20 Questions With Walt Smith, Cofounder of WaterplayUSA

What would you like to promote?

WaterplayUSA, The nation’s largest reservation platform for water related tours and activities.

Is this your first business?

Yes, starting from the ground up.

What is the #1 reason for your company's success?

Determination, execution, knowing our market and our strong team of employees and advisors.

What was the first real successful moment for you guys?

When our concept became reality. (When the first reservation was successfully completed online.)

What do you wish you could tell yourself 5 years ago?

Too Much to list. That’s part of the fun of a Start-up. You don’t have rules or steps to follow. It allows innovation to occur and a lot of lessons to be learned…

Did you have any low points financially in the beginning?

I don’t know if I would call it a low point, but we truly bootlegged the business in the beginning, using all of our own money and were working from the dining room table to prove out the business model.

What is working best for your marketing right now?

We have a strong SEO presence. In addition, our affiliate program is beginning to take shape.

What percentage of your clients find out about you guys this way?

Over 80%

Networking, email lists or social media, choose one.

All 3 are great for different aspects of business, but I choose networking, it’s the best way to communicate with others in your market and stay on top of changes, trends and a way to share your knowledge.

What is your biggest differentiator?

We are a differentiator on many levels. Customer Service, user Experience, and a niche market focus. Through these factors our average transaction is 75% higher than the industry standard.

What is your morning routine?

Being in a startup and especially a co-founder I am always working so my mornings start anywhere from 2, 4 or 6 in the morning. I typically wake up in the middle of the night with an idea for the company or start to think about all that I or my team needs to do so I will start firing off emails at all hours of the night. Once I have decided I can’t go back to sleep I will get up make some coffee, shower, dress, then head into the office no matter what time of the morning it is. From there the workday starts.

What is your coffee shop order?

No coffee shop for me just a Keurig at home and in the office just a regular ole coffee pot with whatever coffee we can get on special. (Only spend company funds on the necessary!)

Where is the best place to eat in your city?

Being a watersports company, it’s kind of ironic that we live at the beach…. The local seafood restaurants are the best. It’s hard to pick one with so many excellent ones within walking distance. Plus there are a lot of breweries popping up locally. Beer has protein, right?

What are your hobbies?

I used to play a lot of golf and go boating every weekend, but I probably haven’t picked up a golf club in over a year. The extracurricular activities get paused when starting a company from an idea. I barely even know what a hobby is anymore… haha

What book do you recommend the most, biggest takeaway?

I read books more for leisure purposes. Master of the Game by Sydney Sheldon.

Favorite place to visit?

My bed after a long day! Just kidding, I am a big fan of most Caribbean Islands. The year round weather, laid back lifestyle and everybody being in a great mood makes for an enjoyable time. Plus watersports are everywhere!!

What are your favorite startups in or near your city?

We are headquartered in Wilmington, NC which is about 2hrs. from the Raleigh/Durham area which a hotbed of tech innovation and startups.  However, our coastal town is starting to make a name for itself as well.  There are several startups emerging.  Besides our company there are few others at the top of my list, nCino, NextGlass and Easyvote.

Do you have any Cofounders? What do they focus on and what do you focus on?

Yes, I founded the company with my brother, Will Smith.  Whereas we both do a little bit of everything, he tends to focus on the sales and strategy and I focus on operations and user experience. 

What position did you hire first, was it the right decision? 

Aside from our technology partner, the first in office hire was customer support.  WaterplayUSA is open 7 days a week 24hrs. a day 365 days a year.  Our customers are top priority and we want to ensure that everyone has a great experience. 

What advice do you have for startup teams just beginning? 

Know your market and what you can do to improve it, then keep your head in the game and focused on what you believe in and are creating

From kayaking and surfing to jet skiing and sunset cruises, book your next vacation adventure with WaterPlay USA and enjoy the trip of a lifetime!

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