A Career in the Outdoors to Running a Year-Round Adventure Company - A Conversation with Stevie Boyle of Ocean Vertical

A Career in the Outdoors to Running a Year-Round Adventure Company - A Conversation with Stevie Boyle of Ocean Vertical

In this interview with Stevie Boyle, we delve in to the business operations of his business Ocean Vertical, a year-round adventure company based in Dunbar, East Lothian, Scotland. We explore some key topics from the unique journey of the business in its 5 years so far, and take away some valuable insights from its ongoing success and Stevie's wealth of experience in the adventure industry.

Shared Responsibilities: Co-founders in an Adventure Business

Ocean Vertical was founded by Stevie and Adrian, and now has a core team of four and a stable of freelancers to deliver their varied activities from watersports like paddleboarding and coasteering to winter mountaineering and abroad expeditions. The core responsibilities of the business are spread between the four permanent members of the team - finance/facilities, marketing, activity management, and operational oversight.

Stevie highlights the importance of sharing the burden of responsibility and the fine balance between sustainable growth as a result of their efforts and the additional commercial pressure on the business to produce sustainable revenue for the size of the team.

Becoming a Trainer Assessor

One of the facets of Stevie's career in the outdoor industry has been his role as a trainer assessor, which has contributed significantly to his professional growth. Stevie's experience of instructing other instructors allows him to ensure that the delivery quality of their service is on par with the brand's standard. This helps keep Ocean Vertical's promise of delivering exceptional experiences to their clients.

Additionally, instructing other instructors presents a platform for personal learning through reflective practices and presents a challenge at a different level from delivering experiences to the average customer who may not be experienced in the sport/activity.

An Abundance Mindset: Standing out from Competitors

Stevie discusses the benefits of working from an abundance mindset, meaning that there are enough customers to go around in the market.

Ocean Vertical does operate in a fairly busy market with a number of prominent competitors. We discuss the decision to position the business as a premium brand offering a premium experience - while being aware of other offerings in the area, Ocean Vertical focuses on building their own brand and delivering best-in-class experiences and not allowing competitors to be the focus of their decision-making.

Sourcing Ethical and Environmentally Friendly Equipment

Placing environmental sustainability at the heart of their brand, Ocean Vertical strives to be an 'ethical adventure company' and puts in the extra effort to procure ethical and environmentally friendly equipment for their activities. The challenge of neoprene, largely used in wetsuits but environmentally problematic, prompted them to look at plant-based materials such as Yulex. Unfortunately this still isn't a perfect solution due to durability and pricing issues - many of the solutions on the market are still impractical for regular hard use in a busy activity centre.

Stevie highlights the importance of actually having those conversations about environmental sustainability when sourcing equipment and that being the route to progress in our industry, as opposed to ignoring the issues and making purchasing decisions purely based on financial implications.

The Impact of Acquiring A New Business Space

The acquisition of a new building last year marked a significant milestone for Ocean Vertical. The building presented a visually appealing and functional space for the company's activities, bolstering the corporate offering of the business allowing it to more effectively reach this segment of their customer base.

Stevie highlights how fundamental this has been to the company's growth, allowing Ocean Vertical to differentiate itself uniquely in the marketplace.

Get New Case Studies Delivered Monthly

  • 📈 Learn how the owners of successful adventure businesses built their companies
  • 🏄 Get actionable tips from actual experience running adventure activity businesses
  • 🗞 Stay up to date with industry news & trends
Thank you for subscribing! Please check your inbox for a welcome email and look out for the next monthly issue.
🏄 🧗 🏂 ⛷ 🚵
It's free! Join a community of 100+ business owners
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.