At a Glance
Startup – Disrupt Sports
Founder – Gary Elphick
Launch – 2014
What it does – Lets you design your own sports gear
We caught up with Gary Elphick, Founder of Disrupt Sports to chat about his unique business which is the world’s first fully customizable sport gear platform.
Disrupt Sports is a print-on-demand manufacture of custom sports equipment. You can upload your designs and customized your sporting goods online, from surfboards to skateboards, yoga mats and to ping pong bats, all individually made, locally in the US and shipped direct. We are also the silent power many eCommerce brands offering branded promotional sporting goods.
The beginning, how the story began?
Gary: My background has always been in Sports and Technology, I worked for a number of sports franchises in the UK and Australia on tech innovation and implementation and then worked for tech companies in sports sponsorship. I set up and ran two previous startups, one failed miserably, the other (in sports accessories) went well and was nominated for sports accessory of the year.
I’ve hugely passionate about quality sports products and removing wastage in the world (stock, warehousing, end of line discounting) it means we as consumers are forced to buy what’s ‘in season’ not what’s right for us as individuals.
So, we get to design our own sports equipment. Can you take us through the process?
In its simplest form
- A person or a business can jump online to Disruptsports.com
- Customize the size and shape of their equipment
- Upload a design or choose from a template
- We then turn that into a CAD and print file, hand craft and then ship your gear to you.
- There are no minimums so you can order one corn hole or one set of golf balls
What products do you deal with?
Gary: When we first started 4 years ago we were called Disrupt Surfing and were simply a group of tech geeks who love sport along with two local surfboard shapers in Bondi Beach Australia.
From there our customers kept coming back and asking us for new lines, including skateboards, snowboards, yoga mats, bikes, and a number of other products. Once we started working with corporate clients we extended that line either further into footballs, basketballs, ping pong tables and about 60 other products in total.
You are a former Shark Tank contestant, how was that experience?
Gary: Shark Tank was a great experience and really good exposure, we were offered a deal but ultimately turned it down, which was thankfully a very good decision. Knowing when to say no and walk away is an important business trait I believe.
We’ve gone on to win many awards for our tech and wholesale arms (which helps manufacture sports equipment and merchandise for the likes or Redbull, Corona and Adidas) including ANZ Supplier of the Year 2017, New Online Retailer Of The Year 2016, Australian Startup Of The Year 2018 and APPA’s Young Person Of The Year 2018.
I’m also super passionate about helping the next generation realize early that this is a viable career path, just as much as training as a lawyer or accountant. I think they just need a network and the support to help them get there. There’s a saying I love which is ‘be who you needed when you were younger’ I wish I had support at an earlier age and so I’m trying to do that for the next generation.
Gary: We started in Australia and then opened a new office in the UK, the US is a new market for us but the response has been great. We’re focused on growing the business at a sustainable pace with the big focus for this year on E-commerce integration for brands where we give them the ability to design and sell our products with their designs and logos on on their webstore, then instead of holding inventory and shipping themselves, we will make and ship direct to their customers.
It’s a no risk way of designers and brands, increasing the number of items they offer and is another step closer to removing waste in the world.
We’ve also started hiring for a production manager based out of LA and remove inside sales support staff.
Advice for aspiring entrepreneurs
Gary: This is a marathon, not a sprint. Only go into this if your heart is 100% there, is you have that burning desire deep down that just won’t go out. It’s hard, really hard. The days are long, the months and years and longer and the sacrifices you have to make are significant, if you’re not 100% in this it won’t be worth the struggle.
Entrepreneurship cannot be taught in school, yes, you can learn accounting and legal, but there is no substitute for getting out there and doing it. This is the school of life that will teach you everything though experience. Do one thing today, just one to learn something oh your business journey – email someone with some questions, go to the local shopkeeper and ask about their pain points. There is only so much that reading Techcrunch and Gary Lee videos is going to teach you, get out there and do it now. Have a big big vision. Ask yourself – if this market REALLY big and can I be the market leader. Once you’re sure of that then take baby steps towards it. Eat the elephant one bite at a time, so you don’t get overwhelmed.
Pass it on
This is not a zero sum game, if someone helps you out on your journey, please pass it on and help someone else or many people. We are stronger together.
How To Connect
Website – https://www.disruptsports.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/DisruptSports/
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/disruptsports/?hl=en
If you would like to have your startup featured please send an email to Tanya@ClairemontTimes.com