Thursday, April 28, 2005

Surfer and entrepreneur Neal Kido, 24, has created what some are calling the eBay of selling surfboards online, at www.surfboardshack.com.

The eBay of surfing

Neal Kido has created a Web site that
has sold hundreds of surfboards

He's been told his Web site, www.surfboardshack.com, is like an eBay for surfboards. It's a humbling compliment to 24-year-old Neal Kido and it motivates him.

"It's definitely at the point where I'm trying to see how far I can take this little thing," he said.

Shortboards, longboards, funboards, guns, vintage boards and accessories are listed and pictured on the site, which makes it clear it does not handle shipping -- that those who advertise their boards for sale and buyers must make their own arrangements.

The Web site has "developed quite a following on the mainland. That part is hard right now because shipping is expensive," he said.

A spring 2003 information technology management graduate from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Kido fired up the Web site during his last semester.

He wanted to start something with his Web skills, and an instructor advised Kido to find something he had a passion for. Kido did.

Colleagues at Wet Sand Enterprises LLC, a local Web development company where Kido was an intern at the time, "always encouraged me to do something on my own," he said.

Kido had a bunch of surfboards to sell and he knew that some surf shops would sell them for him, but that they would take 30 percent of the sale price.

"I could do it for less cost," he said he thought.

"I thought it would be a great idea to put up this little Web site and sell all my boards."

He did and they sold. Roughly 400 boards have sold on the site.

Ad-posters pay a one-time $14.99 fee to list items for sale, no matter how long it takes them to sell. Some boards sell within a week, while others take a few weeks, Kido said. The site provides him with play money, "but I'm trying to get it to a point where it can pay for rent."

Right now the rent money comes from his job at Wet Sand, where he is no longer an intern and does development and project management work and client support.

In April of last year Kido launched another Web site aimed at mainland buyers that sells surf-related jewelry from a local crafter and surf accessories from Surfco Hawaii Inc. in Pearl City.

The newer site, aloha surfgear.com, generates more revenue than surfboardshack .com, but the tide may rise for both sites. He has secured high placement for surfboardshack.com when people search online.

"I took Surfboard Shack from having no rankings to having some of the best rankings in Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc.," Kido said. "Try typing in 'used surfboards' in Google and you should see my site," he said. He is working to improve search rankings for the surf gear site as well.

Kido is a Web guy, entrepreneur and a surfer -- as in ocean surfer.

"I think he definitely has a good balance between having ambition and knowing how to enjoy life. For him, surfing is that enjoyment," said Dan Dorszynski, who co-founded Wet Sand with Stewart Chong in 2000.

Kido is not your basic Web geek, "not like us," Dorszynski laughed.

Still, the company could not hire Kido right after his internship ended. "He got some experience elsewhere and then when it came down to it, he was really interested in pursuing surf-related Web sites but also wanted to stay connected to the Internet development world, so were able to provide him with that flexibility," Dorszynski said.

Kido's been back at Wet Sand a few weeks now.

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