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Thursday 3 July 2014

Catching up with Josh Tidswell, Extreme Sports Management alumni

Josh Tidswell, Extreme Sports Management alumni and founder of See your Wave, talks about his small business and working as a disaster relief volunteer.


When I returned to university after the Christmas break in January 2013, it wasn’t long before assignments began to pile up. They were my final pieces of work so I knew I had to make them count. One of them was for the Small Enterprise unit that asked us to write a business plan for a potential business idea.

Josh’s Company, See Your Wave, provide surfers of all abilities with photographs of themselves.

Soon enough three of my course mates and I came together to lay the foundations of a business venture that is now called See Your Wave. It’s a simple and easy to use to use service that aims to provide surfers of all abilities with photographs of themselves on the waves.

Over the course of the following 3-4 months the idea of an online surf photography business was becoming more of a reality. Weekly meetings, trips down to Cornwall for market research purposes, attending business workshops run by Solent Enterprise, advice from family, friends and tutors, the successful completion of the assignment assessment – a “Dragons’ Den” style pitch and business plan… we were ready to make it happen!

We decided the best place to implement our business model was the mecca of UK surfing, Newquay. With all the camera equipment, marketing materials, relevant insurance and website maintenance expenses initially purchased with savings, we headed on down eager to get started. At every available opportunity, we shot on the most amazing surfing locations, such as the renowned Fistral beach, capturing the best photographs of surfers enjoying the waves that day. The evenings were spent processing, editing and uploading the shots and posting them on our website for surfers to browse and purchase.

We anticipated that See Your Wave would be a seasonal venture just like many businesses in Newquay, however there is a good balance between the increased amounts of surf tourists in the summer and the greater quality of waves in the winter.

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Winter held some more interesting prospects for us. My business partner Paul and I had planned to escape the bleakest months in Britain to travel and volunteer. We went to the Philippines which had been hit by an earthquake followed by the Super Typhoon Haiyan. Paul spent most of his trip building accommodation for those who had lost their homes on the island of Bantayan with the grass-roots charity YPDR.

I travelled the mountainous region of the north and the beautifully pristine Palawan Island. My last few weeks were spent de-constructing and clearing concrete schools and homes damaged by the deadly earthquake on the Island of Bohol with the charity All Hands. I honestly found volunteering to be a humbling and rewarding experience that can teach you so much about yourself and others in real need.

Our second season working on See Your Wave has seen some exciting developments. We successfully gained a grant set aside by Solent for start-up businesses. This has enabled us to purchase some better camera equipment. We have also been asked to work alongside Adam’s Surf School to help fulfil their surfing photography needs.

It’s been almost a year since I left Southampton Solent University. Looking back at my time studying I believe the most beneficial thing I learnt is the ability to take advantage of opportunity. You may not know exactly where this will take you, but that is the half the fun right?