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Savvy Marketing Turns a Hobby into a Successful Business

How the founders of the YOLO Board have glided to the front of the stand-up paddling crowd.

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This story appears in the August 2011 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Jeff Archer refuses to let my limited coordination and athletic ability get in the way, so our interview will take place while paddling Florida's Pensacola Bay. Archer, one of the founders and owners of YOLO Board, sets me up on one of the company's easy-to-balance YOLO Yaks, a surfboard-kayak hybrid. It's clear, as we glide across the water, that Archer relishes his role as an ambassador for stand-up paddling (which goes by the hip acronym "SUP") as much as he does his job at one of the growing sport's most innovative companies.

Archer and YOLO co-owner Tom Losee didn't invent SUP or its boards--that credit likely belongs to the ancient Polynesians--but their savvy, marketing-driven approach has, despite the sport's West Coast roots, made the Santa Rosa Beach, Fla.-based company an industry leader in just five years.

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