Steve Watts, Slyde Handboards: Founder

Slyde Handboards found its beginning in South Africa where Steve Watts and his friends used small objects like flip flops, fast food trays, and frisbees to ride the waves. Using these items as inspiration, Watts decided to create Slyde Handboards which makes small wave riding devices to enhance the body surfing experience. In his interview, Watts shares his favorite podcasts to learn from, his top advice for every aspiring entrepreneur, and much more!

What are one or two books/ podcasts/ shows that have most influenced your life?

I listen to a lot of podcasts and they all have some sort of influence depending on the subject. I love to learn from others and I love actionable information. "How I Built This" and "Hidden Brain" which are both NPR podcasts are great. I get real inspiration from listening to founders that have created some of the best companies of our generation, and I think at this point I have listened to all of them. I also like "Perpetual Traffic" which is more directly an actionable learning podcast for marketing. From a personal perspective, I love The Power of Now which is a great book to improve how you go about every day and make the most of every moment you have both in work and personal life

What are some skills you wish you learned when you were younger that you would have benefited from?

Finance and money management. It's a life skill that every kid should learn from an early age. It's a secret language that if you know can make a huge difference in your life.  

At what point did you know Slyde was going to be a success?

I didn't really have a specific time, I just knew I wouldn't stop until it was a success. 

How has failure helped you later in life? 

When you're running a company failure has to be your best friend, most of the stuff you try will fail. You get to hear a lot of NO's - it's really important that you believe in yourself and your product. Don't be afraid to fall flat on your face and if you need to pivot, do it quickly and work hard. 

How did you know entrepreneurship was for you? How did you decide you were going to do this, regardless of the risk?

I remember telling my mom when I was a kid I was going to own my own company. I'm a really bad employee and I will never work for anyone else. I have way too much fun building my own stuff than I do working for someone else.

I never saw it as a risk; it was really the only option for me and so everything I did, from the degree I chose to the jobs I did before I started was about moving toward building my own company.

What is some of the best advice you have ever received? Some of the worst?

The best was from my mom: You can be whatever you want to be, you just have to work hard for it. You have believe in yourself

The worst: Do this my way. 

Everyone has an opinion, and it is really important to listen to all sides when considering a direction. However, always trust your own gut feeling to make the right decision.

What is some advice you would want to give to a young, aspiring entrepreneur?

• Start and don't be afraid to fail.

• Have belief in your product and yourself.

• Don't do it for the money - do it because you are passionate about getting your idea into the world.

• Find people that have done it before and beg them to take the time to mentor you, you will make a lot less mistakes along the way if you have a guiding hand. 

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