Alex Interviews: Sean White From WeSUP

Alex: Hi Sean, can you tell us a bit about your business?

Sean: My business is born out of our roots as a stand-up paddleboard specialist, so myself and my business partner Harry have been delivering activities and adventures, guided tours and stuff in the UK and in Norway, and in Montenegro.

Alex: Cool.

Sean: We run a retreat in Montenegro, which is a week-long adventure retreat for paddleboarding, hiking and cycling. In Norway we run a guided expedition, which is a wilderness trip. And our primary business is lessons and hires in Cornwall.

We decided that we didn’t want to be a seasonal business, and so our answer to that was to try and create a franchise, and do paddleboarding in some hot country. And out of that came our opportunity to grow the business into Southampton, and that same opportunity brought us to Torquay. So basically, we’re a lifestyle brand, with paddleboarding forming the centre of our approach, but our business is about enabling people to have great experiences in the places that they live.

Alex: Great, thank you. So, am I right in thinking you also offer a co-working space in your building here?

Sean: Yeah, so, the co-working has been a real evolution for us, and we’re, to be honest, still trying to figure out what that means, to us and to our customers.

So we thought that one of the things which was missing from co-working spaces was life balance. A lot of people are struggling with that; they’re struggling with the fact they’re working too much. So we were like: ‘well, we offer paddleboarding as well, so you could come here and do some work, and go paddleboarding in your lunchbreak, and that offers you this work-life balance.

We thought our membership would include a great place to play in, a great place to work in, with no limitation to the use of our internet. The people who’ve come in to use this as a specific workplace want to be a part of the overall energy that this space gives them. So we’re not just a co-working space, we are a space to work.  And so that just means that it’s free, it’s fluid, it means that people are always welcome, and there are no limitations on it for anyone, as far as we can see.

Alex: Brilliant, thank you. Next thing is, I want to speak about the lifestyle aspect of what you do. For example, I’ve been told that every morning before work you like to go paddleboarding.

Sean: Yeah, we’ve had some pretty horrendous weather recently, but yeah. Our business is a business of absolute passion, and this space is the ultimate clubhouse for the stand-up paddleboarder, which is me. I’m a paddleboarder, through and through. I’ve been paddling and trying to make a living out of my passion for over a decade now, and there have certainly been years gone by where I have paddled every single day of that year. 

Starting this business has been a real challenge, because of the nature and the size of it.  The fact that we’ve never run a coffee shop or a bar before, or an events space. So it has been a lot of work, and I haven’t been paddling quite so often. However, the coming season, as soon as March the first comes, we’re launching a new logo, a new brand, and everybody will start to see the philosophy of our actual business, which is one of work and life balance.

And I will very much be getting up every morning and catching the sunrise and catching the sundown from my paddleboard, absolutely wherever possible.

Alex: Brilliant. I think that’s all the questions I had, so it’s up to you if you just want to add something to everything you’ve said so far.

Sean: So, I think this is the message I would to try and send to anyone who doesn’t know about who we are: WeSUP is an energy space.

It’s a place for people to come and meet and connect to other people, to form creative and positive ideas on how their business can be better, and how their lives can be better, and how they can inspire other people to come out of the woodwork and celebrate what they’re doing. 

We have no intention of just being a coffee shop. 

We are a little culture club and I’d really like to get that message across, that everybody is welcome, and we’ll be doing everything we can through the summer, and the winters, to support the local business economy and people’s lifestyles.

Alex: Great, thanks Sean.

Photography By: Will Reddaway, Calmer and Cai Stafford

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