• WisBusiness

New company's jet ski seeks to give everyone access to the water
10/31/2013

By Sami Benz
For WisBusiness.com

It's a beautiful day, one perfect for spending outside on the water. But unless you have access to a boat or jet ski, as well as the people and equipment necessary to transport them, it can be difficult to actually get out on the water.

John West has developed a solution that will give anyone access.

Called the Bombard Urban Jet Ski, it is a high-performance, affordable and easily transportable option for sports enthusiasts.

The company was started seven years ago after West became restless during retirement and wanted to invent something fun.

"I met John because he came and talked to us about possibly making engines for him," said the company's COO and CFO, Anders Stubkjaer, who at the time was COO and CFO of motorcycle engine manufacturer S&S Cycle.

"[John] thought back to when he was younger and said 'Boy, I'd always wanted to get on the water but, you know, how can a 25-year old get there?'" said Stubkjaer. "And he identified a couple of needs in order to do that."

These needs include high performance, affordability and transportability.

Said Stubkjaer: "It's still got to be high performance because people will only want to do it if it's something that is fun to use." The Bomboard's Swiss-designed engine delivers that, providing speeds of up to 40 miles per hour for a fast and thrilling ride.

Priced at $3,495, it is aimed at young action sports enthusiasts, especially those who reside in urban areas near a body of water. "These people only have limited funds. They just can't afford a $10,000 jet ski, so it's got to be priced more like a small motorcycle," said Stubkjaer.

But perhaps most importantly, the Bomboard comes in four easily assembled modules weighing a combined total of 140 pounds. Unlike a traditional jet ski, it does not require a trailer and is easily transported by one person in the back of a car.

"I think it is going to be more of a sport – Bomboarding sport," Stubkjaer said. "It's not just that I'm out riding a Bomboard or that I own a Bomboard. It's more like 'I'm a Bomboarder' just like I'm a snowboarder or I'm a wake boarder. I belong to a social club with like-minded people who also enjoy doing the same things that they do."

The company estimates that it will need $1.5 million to launch the Bomboard and $3 to $5 million for other expenses, including marketing and working capital for growth.

West used his own money, along with some raised from friends, to hire an engineering firm to develop a prototype. It took them a couple of years to come up with a one but when it was ultimately on the water it just wasn't riding in a way that West thought would be fun. Said Stubkjaer: "So at that stage [John] says 'OK well I guess I'll have to get my hands dirty and I can do it myself. So that's what he did."

They are now on prototype number six or seven of the Bomboard. "It takes a little longer to build prototypes when you have to do it by yourself but through the process we have learned so much about what works and what doesn't work that we now have run into most of the problems that you are likely to run into," said Stubkjaer. "We are finally at that stage where we say 'OK we are comfortable that this is actually something that will work'."

Bomboard is presenting to investors at the Wisconsin Technology Council's annual Early Stage Symposium Nov. 5-6 at Madison's Monona Terrace.

-- Benz is a senior in the UW-Madison Department of Life Sciences Communication.
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