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Making it work: Fileshared surfboard design comes of age



Surfersvillage Interview

From shape-to-graphics from the comfort of your laptop

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 13 March, 2016 - Sinking up to your elbows in foam dust is not how everyone wants to create their next board. Some of us are ‘designers’ - which is really a better way to say “no I don’t have access to a shaping bay nor am I talented enough to pull it off.”

Disrupt is a platform where consumers can create the exact surfboard of their choosing without getting foam-dust dirty. The company allows consumers to choose size, shape, custom graphics (totally custom, like you can put an image of Grumpy Cat on that new stick) all online.

It works like this: On the Disrupt website choose your shape from the Disrupt catalog or one of the (soon to be available) 500 shapers globally; Upload images and designs; Hit the pay button.

It works through a network of local shapers who are provided the CAD files to shape from, the printed glass with your images is sent to them and then Disrupt delivers to your door in four weeks or less.


The service is now available in Australia and soon to the U.S.

According to CEO Gary Elphick, “Retailers love it as they have access to a massive library of boards and access to designers without holding stock, local shapers love it as we’re keeping them full of work and surfers love it as they get something 100% custom made for them.”

We wanted to find out more about Disrupt, so we talked with Elphick...

Are all Disrupt boards straight to the consumer or can I order a Disrupt board from my local surf shop?
At the moment they are direct from consumer however we’re about to announce a partnership with Australia’s two largest e-commerce stores that we’re integrating into. We’ve also recently been trailing an in-store concept store in Bondi. Both of which we’re looking to roll out in the U.S. in time for summer.


What if I love my …Lost 5.8” Short Round and want to replace it, but need to have a photo of Grumpy Cat on there, can I do so through Disrupt?
It’s an interesting question and one we’ve been asked a few times, it comes down to IP protection, whether that is in the physical object or the file. In the future we see that shapers will licence their digital files removing inefficiency in shipping boards around the world by container and stores not having access. Image-wise we feel very serious about respecting IP, we’re not the police so put the onus on the individual to make sure they have the right to use them. As above the future is amazing, imagine somewhere you can ‘buy; a shapers file, ‘buy’ a design from a local artist and have it made just up the street for you, you get exactly what you want, everyone retains their IP rights and we remove all inefficiency. 

What is the biggest challenge to matching a customer’s design expectations?
Trying to make design easy for non technical people. Ensuring people understand that these are quality local-made boards, without currently walking into a store and picking one up. Educating people that they can ‘have their cake and eat it’ I.e design their own board and not have to sacrifice quality.


What’s the strangest graphic or image that’s come through your lab?
We have a rule that we don’t question anyone’s designs, however the most interesting have been:
1. An aboroginal artist designed a board with traditional art as a demonstration of old Australia and New Australia

2. A 6’2 high resolution image of a fetus to announce a surfing couple having a baby

3. The one I love the most (and was the most daunting) was a designer that included an image of his late mother, he made a special request to include some of her ashes in the resin. After a few calculations we ensured the integrity and quality of the product would still be up to our very high standard and we went ahead with it. Was a great experience although our head shaper wore an extra pair of gloves.


You have some shark repellent designs, are those popular?
We’ve just launched Noshark and made the decision to give the design away for Free (Now and forever), it’s been really popular and the feedback has been great. It’s only possible because we make everything on demand locally.

Would you like to add anything else about Disrupt?
We’re trying to switch it up and focus back on the individual surfer, custom making quality product locally and totally unique. We’re launching our CA office this month. We’re launching Design Your Own snowboards and kite-boards in the next six months

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