GoFlow is a surfing application which allows users to access life surf reports, upload pictures and videos, and contact friends and surf instructors. It was founded by 2 ex-professional surfers at Los Angeles, California, in 2012.
The need for GoFlow
Weather forecasts have become quite accurate thanks to technology, but wave forecasts are far more unreliable because they depend in many constantly changing factors. Wave conditions can change by hours and even by minutes, depending on the height and direction of the swell, the direction and strength of the wind, the tide, the wave period, and the sand underneath them which changes quicker than most people can imagine. Any person who surfs regularly has had uncountable disappointing experiences due to the unreliability of wave forecasts. Surfers often wake up before sunrise to catch the best waves and are often disappointed with bad conditions when they arrive to the surf spot. I think by now you get the idea of how unpredictable surfing conditions are, and GoFlow solves this issue with live surf reports thanks to the active contribution from all the surfers within a community.
Key characteristics of the business model
Value proposition: GoFlow satisfies the need for life surf reports, which printed surf guides or regular forecast apps (Surfline, Magicseaweed, etc.) cannot satisfy. A WhatsApp group is also not effective because it is not structured enough to show all the live reports of all the surfing spots, since there can be tens of surfing spots within a few kilometers of a coast line. In this app, surfers co-create live surf reports, therefore saving hours of frustration and unnecessary drives looking for waves. In order to understand the value of this app you have to realize that surfers are addicted to this sport and depend on forecasts and surf reports to either get surf sessions full of adrenaline or encounter disappointment and frustration. I can personally confirm this after surfing every day of my life from the age of 8 to 18.
Moreover, GoFlow provides many other functions. It is also like a ‘surfer Instagram’, where users can show their pictures and videos and attract/promote sponsors. Another section of the App is a platform to connect surf instructors with people that want to learn or improve their skills.
The Key Activities of the start-up are attracting users to increase the network effect and improving the app, which are also the main cost sources. The resources are the know-how to keep updating the app, and the $2 million rose by the start-up between 2015 and 2016 within 2 investment rounds (Crunchbase, 2018). GoFlow is free to download and does not charge for any of its functions because it is trying to attract more users to intensify the network effect. At the moment, its only revenue source is the advertising of the surfing apparel companies.
As a last note on the efficiency of the business model, the app does not have any legal burdens and it has methods in place to ensure that the contributions of the users meet a quality standard. For example, users gain a credibility status when their surf reports are reviewed as accurate by other people, and users with wrong intentions can be pointed out to be removed from the community.
The future of GoFlow
Online reviews claim the app is very user friendly and helpful, and it has around 100,000 downloads just over a year after the start-up raised its funding (Play.google.com, 2018). On the other hand, GoFlow is simply missing enough people to create a platform effect in many surf spots around the world. Nonetheless, it is showing its full potential in certain regions of California and Brazil, where plenty of active users enjoy the benefits of this app while co-creating value (Rizz, 2018). If GoFlow gains enough users across all the surfing regions of the world, it will be a huge platform which will attract not only advertisements from the surf apparel companies but also from other companies which try to identify their brand with surfing, such as Hollister, Jeep, Samsung, etc. Surfing is a continuously growing sport whose apparel industry alone is now estimated to have a value of $15 billion per year and is expected to keep growing (Beachapedia.org, 2018). Lastly, GoFlow is also trying to expand some of its platform functions to other outdoor sport and activities, such as skating or kite surfing.
Beachapedia.org. (2018). Surfonomics – Beachapedia. [online] Available at: http://www.beachapedia.org/Surfonomics [Accessed 16 Feb. 2018].
Crunchbase. (2018). goFlow Surf | Crunchbase. [online] Available at: https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/goflow-surf [Accessed 16 Feb. 2018].
Play.google.com. (2018). Cite a Website – Cite This For Me. [online] Available at: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=goflow.app&hl=es [Accessed 16 Feb. 2018].
Rizz, G. (2018). goFlow: Share and Discover Waves with Your Friends. [online] The Inertia. Available at: https://www.theinertia.com/surf/goflow-establishing-a-social-surfing-community/ [Accessed 16 Feb. 2018].