If you’re a surfer, you’ve had those mornings when you’re up before the sun, scouring the surf report for the best waves. The wind, the tide and the beach’s exposure all factor into whether that swell ends up catching your local spot at the right time.
Thirty minutes pass. An hour. Eventually, you reach a point when you’ve just got to park it and paddle out. This ritual is part of the surfing experience — especially for surfers who live in places where good swell is hard to come by — but it also eats up your water time. goFlow wants to change that.Roni Eshel, a former pro surfer and Israeli national women’s surfing champion, created goFlow after realizing that the technology behind apps like Waze and Viber could be used to solve surfers’ problems, so that we could “spend more time in the water and less time searching.”
“Every morning, I would wake up text messaging, checking Facebook, checking Instagram, checking the cams – which usually don’t work. My bedroom was like a war room,” she jokes. “I wanted to create an easy tool to get all of that information to one place, for my friends and the community.”
She officially launched goFlow globally in March of 2015, and today the app has more than 100,000 users all over the world. The English-language app has done so well in Brazil that goFlow is actually opening a new office in Brazil and creating a Portuguese version.
goFlow isn’t based on forecasts like most other surf reporting sites; it’s based on real-time, in-person reports that are intuitive and easy to post. Not only can you find new spots nearby — GPS is magic — but you can set up notifications so that you know when and where your friends surf or if there are unmissable conditions at your local beach.
goFlow began as an app for surfers and has grown into a well-rounded and very well-respected platform that enables athletes from all different disciplines to do everything from check the local surf and discover new spots to book a session with a local expert — a feature that, currently, depends on where you live.
“Everyone always says, ‘I would love to go surfing,’ ‘I would love to try skateboarding,’ ‘I think I would love paddleboarding – but I don't know where to start,'” Eshel says. “To get travel tips, buy gear, or even learn how to do these activities … [it’s one thing if you have friends who can make recommendations]; if you don’t have those friends, it’s probably not going to be that easy for you.”
“But that’s a powerful community and the information it provides is really relevant,” she continues, “so we decided to build goFlow into a one-stop shop to help you manage your active lifestyle – starting with booking experiences with local experts.”
Soon, you’ll be able to book (or sell) a yoga and SUP or surf experience, or even book a photographer right through the app for $60 to $100. Certain activities that trend more toward life coaching, rather than athletic coaching, are pricier.
Right now, a beta version of the experience-booking feature is available to Los Angeles-based users.
Essentially, goFlow’s goal is to help people get more involved with outdoor activities and strengthen local communities around them. In fact, a sense of community is at goFlow’s core. The company is hosting its first community event with the World Surf League on Aug. 11 at the TOMS flagship store in Venice, California.
“When you’re traveling and you meet another surfer, you feel like you’re in the same tribe right away,” says Eshel. “So connecting [surfers] locally and globally – it’s really powerful. People love it.”
Arming the masses, who are all-too-willing to share the spots they’ve “discovered,” with a foolproof, geo-tagged way to do so seems like it could stir up some hostility amidst the often hyper localized, tight-lipped surfing community.
Eshel says that though they haven’t caught any flak for this yet, goFlow launched Teams, which lets users share to a private group, to combat just such skirmishes.
“And, you can have this issue anywhere — on Instagram or Facebook,” she points out. “You can say that it’s a problem, or you can say that it’s the technology we have today. I think that the younger generation today is [developing] this culture of sharing and being more open.”
goFlow is providing the action sports community with an effective way to do that. We all hold smartphones in our hands, Eshel says, and with goFlow’s network of local experts and citizen reporters, we all hold a key to more rewarding sessions in our hands, too.
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