Surf-Grip News l Press Releases
Surf-Grip at Connect with SDSI

SDSI to Foster Growth for Emerging Brands during ASR

ASR partners with SDSI to help facilitate support for emerging action sport and active
lifestyle brands at SDSI investment forum and networking event.

San Juan Capistrano, CA (July 23, 2010) - When over 750 brands converge in San
Diego, CA for ASR Marketplace this August 13th-15th, business opportunities will
go beyond the show's retail sales and media placements; and into the investment
community. On August 12, 2010, CONNECT San Diego Sport Innovators (SDSI) will
hold a Capital Forum to provide a private setting for angel and private investors to review
presentations from seven investment-ready action sport and active lifestyle start-ups
from Southern California.

"For decades, the investment community has attended ASR to feel the pulse of the
industry," says Andy Tompkins, VP of ASR. "As more companies went public, ASR
provided the perfect platform for analysts to see trends and how various brands were
positioning themselves in the market. SDSI's Capital Forum will take that further;
directing energy toward up-and-coming brands as they look for the best avenues and
partners for future growth."

"San Diego is not only a vibrant action sport and active lifestyle community, but also
a thriving environment for business," says Bill Walton NBA Hall of Famer and SDSI
executive chairmen, "SDSI's goal is to act as a catalyst by connecting innovative sports
minded entrepreneurs and start-ups in the Southern California region with mentoring,
education, networking, technology and most importantly access to capital."
SDSI Capital Forum presenting companies include: AttaGirl!, Celtek, Clarinova,
Cleatskins, DO or DIE, Prunolo and All start-ups are investment ready
and have been selected by industry experts through an extensive screening process.
SDSI, managed by CONNECT, capitalizes on the nationally renowned mentoring process
developed by CONNECT and recently recognized by Inc. Magazine.

Following the Capital Forum, SDSI and ASR present Connect with SDSI; the
organization's premier networking event, featuring exhibits by some of the most innovative
action sport and active lifestyle companies in the region. The event is open to industry
executives, capital providers, individual investors, entrepreneurs, innovators and
professional service providers specializing in the sport industry. This event provides
an opportunity to get connected with key industry players, check out cool tech gear and
demos, and pick up on trends that are driving customer acceptance in diverse segments
of the action sports industry.

Connect with SDSI will be held at the Candy Factory Warehouse in PETCO Park. All
attendees will receive complimentary tickets to see the San Diego Padres play the Pittsburgh
Pirates. All are welcome to this one-stop introduction to the SDSI organization and the
action sport & active lifestyle business opportunities in San Diego.

Leadership of SDSI consists of a 22 member board of directors packed with action sport
industry veterans including: Bob Rief of Boardworks Surf & C4 Waterman, Dave Nash
of Athleisure, Jeff Kearl of Skull Candy, Jim Stroesser of Adio Footwear; John Wilson
of Stance Socks, Kevin Flanagan of Reef, Mark Schmid of Sk8ology, Peter Townend of
ActivEmpire and Tony Finn of Liquid Force.

SDSI Capital Forum:
Thursday, August 12, 2010 | 9:30am - 2:30pm | Ultimate Skybox at DiamondView Tower-
Hosted by Cox

Connect with SDSI:
Thursday, August 12, 2010 | 3:30- 5:30pm | Candy Factory at PETCO Park| Register here

Register here ( for
Connect with SDSI. For more information on SDSI and its upcoming events contact
Garrett Hale at CLOAKING or 858.964.1314. Learn more about attending ASR
Marketplace as an exhibitor, retailer or media at

About ASR:
ASR, produced by Nielsen Expositions, is a full service tradeshow company whose goal is to create market and produce high quality trade shows and educational conferences. ASR is the leading action sports industry trade event, bringing together top manufacturers, retailers, industry advocates and media to conduct the business of surf, skate, snow, swim, style, moto and youth culture. Now in its 29th successful year, ASR gathers over 800 action sports brands and approximately 6,000 retail buyers and decision makers two times a year, with spring and summer/fall season shows in San Diego. For additional information regarding ASR, check out

About CONNECT San Diego Sport Innovators (SDSI):
CONNECT SDSI is a business accelerator that connects and drives the growth of San Diego's vibrant sports economy by offering innovative programs and services for sport minded start-ups & entrepreneurs, mature companies, and service providers. Building on CONNECT's world-renown success accelerating innovation in San Diego over the past 25 years, CONNECT SDSI offers mentoring, education and capital funding opportunities for start-ups; best practice collaboration, access to new technology, and public policy advocacy for mature companies; as well as deal flow to our service providers and the San Diego Investment Community. Check out for more information about CONNECT SDSI.

Surf-Grip on Small Business: Why Didn't I Think of That? Surf-Grip Beach Paddles

A former marketing consultant turned amateur bodysurfer, Mike Sick set out to invent handheld flippers that allow part-time beach bums to catch waves. By: PATRICK SAUER, Posted 7/19/10Surfin' safari: Mike Sick's Surf-Grip allows amateur bodysurfers to catch waves.

In surfer lingo, the term "sick" doesn't mean a rider is ill from swallowing too much ocean. Rather, it means something is rad awesome insanely cool. A prime example: "These waves are sick."

Entrepreneur Mike Sick, 55, hopes his surname provides a fitting description for his invention, the 
Surf-Grip, a pair of foam paddles that he says act "like water skis for your hands."

The idea for the Surf-Grip came out of Sick's tendency to get frustrated by his lack of buoyancy while bodysurfing, particularly on slower days. His "big fat floaty hands" would get in the way of a good ride, so he started mixing and matching household flotsam and jetsam in an effort to combat sinkage. Sick experimented with diced-up pool noodles, trashcan lids, ski pole handles and ultimately, pieces of bodyboards. In 2008, he got serious, spending $20,000 of personal savings to create a prototype and produce a run of 5,000 for summer 2009. 

A native of Syracuse, N.Y., Sick decided to make his home in San Diego, for reasons that need no explanation. 
A marketing guy from way back, Sick spent a number of years helping to build brands in the restaurant industry with clients including Jack in the Box, Arby's and Pizza Hut. (Remember when the Pan Pizza debuted in 1980? He was there.) As a consultant, Sick worked with inventors of unique offerings like a self-cleaning litter box and an elevated doggie bathtub, helping create campaigns for unorthodox products. He found the experiences inspirational but also limiting, because the growth potential wasn't vast for products where the model is "wake up in the morning and see how many orders came in overnight." 

Sick got the idea to create his own product when he hit on the Surf-Grip as an easy-to-use waverunner for the average vacationer, not the Kelly Slater diehards. He designed the polyurethane grips with the idea of reducing the threshold and skill required for a bodyboard. Often, bodysurfers lose steam because their hands drag them down, but the Surf-Grip cuts through the water and keeps them riding a wave all the way into shore. "The best rides are when you can see a wave coming over your shoulder and the Surf-Grip pushes you out past the wave," says Sick. "We call that the Firehose Effect." 

It's been tough shredding for Sick (and employee/daughter Jaclyn), as the company is still working off its original inventory. He had hoped to sell more by this point and says the challenge of bringing out a new product in a new category has been compounded by the fact that the Surf-Grip is best introduced through live demonstrations. The feedback is always better when retailers can witness the action in the water. Seeing someone in the surf answers the question "Do they work?" better than any verbal explanation. 

One lifetime beach bum who gave the Surf-Grip a tryout is Jon Reichardt, 43, a Southern California native who coaches water polo at Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach, Calif. He gave the Surf-Grip a spin in 2- to 3-foot surf. "Once you're in the wave and you put both hands out, the Surf-Grip is good for going straight down the wave, which you don't want to do when you bodysurf or you'll break your neck," he says. "If you try to do one hand behind you and one in front as you would do when you bodysurf, they don't work. I had trouble swimming with them, so they worked best for me in shallow water."

On the beach, demos have a limited audience, so Sick's hitting social 
media hard, in addition to giving away pairs to everyday beachcombers, and hosting Surf-Grip contests in hotspots like Florida's Coco Beach and California's Huntington Beach. He's made some headway, as the Surf-Grip is available on both coasts at flip-flop-friendly shops including Island Surf in Coronado, Calif., and Espo's Surf & Sport in Amagansett, N.Y. Sick believes large-scale, profitable, multimillion-dollar success is "not inconceivable," if he can sell just 100-plus pairs each summer at stores along the coastlines, wherever people are beaching around the globe. At a cost of $20 to $25, the Surf-Grip is less expensive and bulky than a quality bodyboard, so if word spreads, it's just the type of impulse purchase that week-long surfing safaris are made of. 

And while not everybody across the USA has gone surfin' this summer, it's essential to Sick's business plan. He admits he doesn't get to ride the waves as much as he'd like, but on good days, like when he opens a new account at 
Rusty Boardhouse in La Jolla, Calif., it's essential. "I went directly to the beach a few blocks away, changed into my swimsuit and spent an hour doing demos of the Surf-Grip," he says. "I guess you could call that 'post-sale promotion.'"

Read the article on Small Business

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