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International, independent, e-magazine on skydiving, BASE & tunnel

Catching up with SCOTT ROBERTS

Scott Roberts — by Syed Rashid Minash
Scott Roberts — by Syed Rashid Minash

Scott Roberts is a disruptor. In the world of canopy manufacturing, Performance Designs, NZ Aerosports and Aerodyne are the ‘big three’, but all are taking notice of the small shop in Deland churning out one great design after another. Watching Scott Roberts build his business is akin to seeing a young band churning out hits because of their focus on the art as opposed to commercial success. Scott’s approach to building canopies is centered around his passion for perfection building the best possible wings.

Chat with Scott about what he’s doing and he lights up. He seems to care less about sales figures and more about getting everything just right which in turn drives sales. Fluid Wings has been an underground movement touted as “the next big thing” and has been grown organically by word of mouth. Word is spreading that there is a guy building canopies for the love of building canopies and it’s starting to go viral. It’s not a question of whether Fluid Wings will be successful, but rather their strategy to scale as this brand continues to spread, one pilot at a time.

Where are you from? Denver, Colorado

Where did you go to school and what did you study? University of Colorado, MS in Engineering.

When and where did you make your first skydive? 1997 in Sebastian, Florida.

Scott Flying
Scott Flying

Who are the biggest positive influences in your life? Family (Parents, my wife, Kolla), some really close friends (you know who you are).

Who inspires you? Anyone who breaks through boundaries and does new and cool stuff their own way, especially those who do it outside the spotlight.

How long have you been interested in parachute design? Since I started flying them, in 2000 I bought a sewing machine and started tinkering with stuff.

When did you design your first parachute I’ve been playing with ideas since 2009, but pulled the trigger in 2011.

List all the jobs you’ve ever had

  • Lawn Mowing
  • Paper Boy
  • Burger Flipper
  • Cart guy at Target
  • Shoe Salesman
  • Lots of Construction Jobs
  • Design Engineer
  • Failure Analysis Engineer
  • Parachute Design Engineer

What was the definitive point when you decided that you would become an entrepreneur and open your own business with Fluid Wings?

When the first glider the Rubicon flew and well. My Friend Nick Kaminski told me that “maybe you will make your mark in skydiving, in gear, not as an athlete” Thats when I realized I wanted to do more of that and that we would have to make a company to do it.

by scott roberts
by scott roberts

Since launching your business, what has been your biggest challenge? Managing the many aspects and demands of the growth and the constant juggling of priorities.

What has been your biggest victory? Getting a cutting table. That was a dream for years, they are super expensive and it’s paid for!

What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken to make the dream happen? All of it. We took no investment capital and it’s all personal investment. I have worked 2-3 jobs at times while getting this going to fund it. I have more personal money than ever thought possible to put together into this endeavor.

What has been the biggest surprise to you about your entrepreneurial journey to this point? People’s reactions to Fluid getting going.

Loki in Final Testing  — by scott roberts
Loki in Final Testing  — by scott roberts

When we jumped rounds, it was hard to imagine a square parachute. Do you think there is still something out there that will revolutionize parachute design as ram-airs did? Definitely. I know we have a few in us (have one in mind now), and others do too I’m sure. They may not look like as big a steps as round to square from the outside but the aerodynamics leaps are there if we keep pushing.

Of the business people in the industry, who do you respect? I respect what Performance Designs has accomplished, and admire how Bill Coe has quietly worked at it for so many years. I admire Jyro’s open and relaxed attitude and his willingness to try new stuff. In other manufacturers, I admire what the Peregrine (Dave and Aggie) guys are doing, and what Kelly Farrington at Velocity Sports Equipment has been able to make happen.

If you could give some advice to aspiring entrepreneurs, what advice would you give? Avoid debt, follow your passion and be prepared to work harder than you ever thought possible and never settle.

If you wanted to people to one thing about your company, what would you want them to know? This is all about love….we are fired by passion and just want to go make amazing stuff that bring happiness to people. Really, I take a personal stake in people's happiness with our stuff.

FUN FACTS

  • How many hours a week do you work: 80-ish but its mostly not work since I like what I do.
  • If you could live anywhere, where would that be: Florida in winter, Utah in summer… oh wait, that’s where I live!
  • Most beautiful place you’ve been to: Delivery room where my daughter was born, other than that Iceland, anywhere there, it’s like whole new world.
  • Favorite DZ: Sebastian is special to me, first jump there and oh, the scenery.
  • Most enjoyable skydive? Too many; they are all so cool. The first Canopy Piloting World Championships in a park in the middle of Vienna was pretty amazing.
  • Scariest skydive: A test jump that didn’t work out as planned. Left me in tears. We will leave it at that.
  • Other hobbies: Airplanes, paragliders other flying things. Mountains and skiing
  • Favorite TV show: Love Cartoons….American Dad, Bobs Burgers, Rick and Morty
  • Favorite Quote: “People overestimate what they can accomplish in one year and greatly underestimate what they can accomplish in five.” – Bill Gates

Article originally published on DropZone.Marketing here.

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