CEO of UCI startup Waterborne Skateboards thanks the Wayfinder program for its success.
Like many young, first-time entrepreneurs, UC Irvine (UCI) alum Patrick Dumas did not expect his company, Waterborne Skateboards, to become the internationally recognized brand it is today.
“In the beginning, I made a financial projection and … it was something stupid – a not exciting amount of money,” admitted Dumas, CEO of Waterborne Skateboards. “People pushed me to think bigger … [to] make this as big as it can possibly be.”
The people Dumas spoke of were his mentors and eventual investors, whom he met through the UCI Beall Applied Innovation’s Wayfinder program in 2016. According to Dumas, they continue to coach him to this day. And he couldn’t be more grateful for them.
“I hope I never fail to give credit to the expertise I’ve received,” said Dumas. “The handful of individuals I met through Wayfinder were necessary in making [Waterborne Skateboards’] success happen. If it weren’t for these folks, we wouldn’t be where we’re at today.”
Dumas started Waterborne Skateboards as an undergraduate with his originally designed Surf Adapter, a skateboard attachment for the front of the board that allows riders to carve tighter turns than they typically would with their boards’ original parts. After a couple of what Dumas describes as critical failures – a dud of a design and a manufacturing mishap – he perfected the flagship Surf Adapter and has since expanded the company’s product line to include adapters for the back of the board, adapters for electric skateboards and zodiac-themed carbon-fiber skateboard decks.
The startup also partnered with Australian company Penny Skateboards to create the High-Line Surfskate, a skateboard line that launched last year. Now, with its new products and partnerships, Waterborne Skateboards ships to dozens of countries around the world.
The company’s hard-earned growth and scale have allowed Dumas to focus on what he loves doing most: tinkering.
“We have a nice warehouse now,” said Dumas. “I have a workshop there, and any tool I’ll ever need. I can build whatever I want and get back to my roots in design. I think that’s my calling.”
For as far as Waterborne Skateboards has come, Dumas only picked up skating as a faster way to get around UCI’s massive campus. But skating wasn’t always the most convenient means of getting to class. During his undergraduate years, Dumas admittedly accumulated three skating citations from campus police. Still, that didn’t stop him from weaving past pedestrians on his board between classes.
“I definitely fell in love with skating at UCI,” he said. “The best part of my day was leaving class at the top of Ring Road and taking some cool pathway down. Experiences like that definitely shaped me to make Waterborne Skateboards, [which is] kind of crazy to think about.”
Learn more about Applied Innovation’s Wayfinder Incubator.
Photos & Video: Celina Bhandari & Julie Kennedy, UCI Beall Applied Innovation
Illustration: Elisa Le, UCI Beall Applied Innovation