Firewire & Finatic partner to build new Surf retail model
It’s been nearly seven years since Chris Hough founded his unique company, Finatic, which implements a business model very similar to that of Netflix. The concept of trying out surf fins before purchasing them is catching on within the industry, and Finatic’s direct-to-consumer platform has been fine-tuned over the years alongside major fin partners like FCS, Futures, Kinetik Racing, and 3D Fins.
Fast forward to today, and enter CJ Hobgood and partner Firewire Surfboards. Professional surfer and Hall of Fame athlete Hobgood has joined Finatic as a business partner and part-owner, and together the team has been working closely with Firewire CEO Mark Price to add a new retail element that they believe will help change the surf industry model for the better.
“Firewire believes in the Finatic business model and as you may know, we stopped offering fins with our boards over 7 years ago,” Price says. For that reason, and coupled with the daunting amount of fin options on the market, Price says he sees the potential in the new program Finatic has rolled out.
The company is extending its subscription-based service to the retail level, giving consumers the chance to enter their local surf shop upon sign-up. In turn, retailers will receive 20% of revenue for the life of the subscriber’s membership. In addition, the company will also kick back 20% of used fin sales, and refer 100% of inquiries about new fin sales to corresponding retail partners. Some of those partners already include Tropical Blends in Honolulu, HI, The Shop in Arcata, Calif., Bare Wires in Spring Lake, New Jersey, Ocean Surf and Sport in Ocean City, NJ, and Hough’s The Surfboard Warehouse Brandon, Florida.
“We hope that retailers see the Finatic Fin Testing Program as a solution to the tough decisions surfers must make when it comes to fins,” says Hough. “We know that it will not only create ongoing revenue streams for retailers, but will also result in a certain percentage of new fin sales. In addition, retailers no longer have to stock all possible fin options in order to meet their customers’ needs, especially as an increasing number of fin options are becoming available.”
We had a chance to talk with Price and Hough a little more about the program and how they hope to roll it out in the next few months.
What’s Firewire’s involvement in the program?
Price: Firewire will encourage our retailers to participate and will promote Finatic across our social media platform from time to time.
Aside from that, Chris and his team will manage the business.
What’s CJ’s role in the company and how has that evolved since he’s been on board?
Hough: As far as CJ’s concerned, now that he’s become a hall of fame surfer and is going into his retirement, Finatic is going to be something that he will have some focus on, he will be the face of and be a spokesman for, as he has some equity stake in the company.
How has the Finatic program evolved over the years since we last caught up?
Hough: The program has grown leaps and bounds. This is mostly because we’ve taken customer feedback and improved our custom Finatic software. The Finatic site now has a responsive design so you can manage your fins from your smart phone/tablet quickly and easily. The fin companies involved have grown as well. We now offer every single fin from, FCS II, FCS, Futures, Kinetik, 3D Fins, Creatures Fins, Gorilla Fins, Rainbow Fins, and Turbo Tunnel.
Why did you decide to involve retailers more closely in the Finatic program?
Hough: After getting CJ involved, we met with Firewire and after several days of brainstorming they turned us onto the idea of “unleashing” Finatic to the surf world via getting shops involved. That idea changed over the course of about two years until we ultimately landed on a model that we all felt would make Finatic as successful as possible, while providing an extremely unique revenue stream to shops. I have to credit Firewire with the genius that is the new business model. Now the entire industry, fin manufacturers, surf shops, and the end consumer have a fin testing program they can all love and be a part of.
Anything else new about the program?
We’re always making Finatic better; always improving the software based on member feedback. There’s a new patch we’re pushing live any day that involves more automated notifications so that members can better stay on top of their account and any new fins that hit the program. Looking into the future we may bring the more important alerts into an SMS format so our members have the option of being instantly notified via text once fins are returned or shipped. As technology changes, we will continue to improve our software so that Finatic continues to evolve.
Surfers experimenting with unlimited fins makes them happy, fins being tested makes the fin companies happy, shops getting residual income makes them happy, and shops pushing Finatic makes us happy. We’re hoping that we’ve landed on a winning model for the whole industry.
What are some the major retail partners Finatic is hoping to work with?
Hough: Since we just launched the Partner program, we haven’t finished “officially” signing up any shops as there’s paperwork that needs to be filled out, details that need to be gone over, and marketing material that needs to be sent out, but the program is red hot and we already have a long list of top-notch shops interested.
We’re hoping that three months from now you’d see most major surf shops eagerly engaging their customers about Finatic, when it comes to their fin choices. Surfers experimenting with unlimited fins makes them happy, fins being tested makes the fin companies happy, and shops getting residual income makes them happy, shops pushing Finatic makes us happy. We’re hoping that we’ve landed on a winning model for the whole industry.