There is a new board shop in Medicine Hat, Alberta. Badlands Boards is an online store that sells skateboards, snowboards and accessories.
Owner and Medicine Hat College student, Grayden Cowan, says that the concept came from his passion for the sport and an identified need within the community. To see if there was a need for his product in the community, he talked to the local boarders.
“I asked them what kind of skateboards they would like to ride,” he says. “I asked what brands they would support, if I were to build a t-shirt would they buy it, and I continue to do that to ensure the product I offer is tailored around what people want.”
In September 2014, Cowan met with the Entrepreneur Development Centre with the business concept and soon was accepted into the Summer Company Program. Funded by JMH & Co., this program helps student start a business by offering coaching and mentorship, while also facilitating access to financial aid and support services.
“The Entrepreneur Development Centre was the first group to help me start my business,” he says. “I would go into their office and we’d talk about what needed to get done. And because I wanted to move things forward, I would complete it and be back in their office saying, ‘Okay what’s next?’” says Cowan.
Cowan’s company has been in operation since the end of September and continues to evolve as he works to complete the Summer Company Program.
Within his business model, Cowan puts an emphasis on social responsibility to ensure that he is not only creating a community and helping to shed any negative stereotypes around the sport, but also providing an opportunity for individuals to be introduced to boarding.
“Boarding gets a bit of a bad rep, but the guys in the Medicine Hat Skateboard Association are awesome,” he says. “They go build houses in Mexico, run skate schools for kids and are just trying to get a really positive reputation. I love that and I wanted it to be part of my business.”
One way Cowan is accomplishing this is by offering a lesson, equipment rental and lift pass from the Hidden Valley Ski Resort to Big Brothers Big Sisters for every ten snowboards sold.
Cowan continues to evolve his product and has high hopes for it in the future, “It’s online for now, but I’m hoping to take my product directly to my customers and interact with them at the location.”
Cowan says that he has learned a lot from his time working with the EDC, as well as the Summer Company program.
“One thing I’ve learned is to do it today,” he says. “Because the more you think about it, the more you can let your head pick out all the reasons you shouldn’t do it. Make sure you aren’t being a “wantrepreneur” and just doing things like building a plan and website – and never actually making a sale – but instead jump in and learn as you go.”
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