Franck Goudou - Playground

When and where did you start surfing?
My parents had a house close to Bordeaux, so my first experience was back then. My first real surf experience was when I was about 13 years old when we used to spend our holidays out on the coast near Hossegor. I was living in Toulouse, which was about 2 hours away from these beach cities. So that was the start of the rush and the passion. Then when I was about 15-16 I went to California, I had some relatives there and spent 2 months in a surf camp, I wanted to improve my surfing and live that Californian surf dream, then I ended up working with the guys in at the camp and I was hooked on it all then.

What was your first board?
My first surfboard was a gift from my Aunts husband who bought me a Stewart longboard and Rip Curl wetsuit from a San Clemente surf shop, which is near Trestles.

What do you love about surfing?
My first experience was 20 years ago, so that passion and relationship with surfing has evolved a lot. These days I have a very grateful relationship with the ocean. We as humans have that relationship with the ocean where we just appreciate and respect it. I love the strength and intensity of the ocean and that appreciation is growing as I get older, I also love the unique feeling of flow, lightness and freedom. It sounds cliché but that’s how I experience it.  It’s been about 4 months since I got out my old 5’ 10 Al Merrick fish and I’ve started surfing it with no leash in some more remote locations and I just love it. I love the journeys to these remote locations, it feels almost like you’ve earned it when you ride an un-crowded wave in the middle of nowhere.

Do you have a session that is your most memorable?
We surf all winter long at home, which always bring good memories. One of the more memorable sessions abroad is when I used to work at Rip Curl, during the Rip Curl Pro in Reunion Island.  A beautiful but scary 6-8 foot St Leu with all the pros out, I got probably 3 of my best waves ever that day. 

What kind of education have you had?
I went to university in Toulouse and did a bit of economics and maths then went to a European business school.  When I finished school I worked at Surfing Mag for 8 months in the states as an internship.  I wanted to go back to the states so just trawled for any internship’s or other jobs until I sent an email to the guys at Surfing Mag who were happy to have a Frenchy on the team.  Then when I came back to France I proposed myself to Rip Curl in Hossegor and started as an event coordinator for Rip Curl Europe.

What was your position at Rip Curl?
I started more on the event side dealing with logistics, so when I was 23-24 that was perfect for me, spending time on the beach and in the mountains, helping to run events, put up tents etc.   I did that for 2 years and then I got the title of Sports Marketing across Surf Skate Ski and Snowboarding which is where I stayed for 2 or 3 years. I then moved into the role of Marketing Manager taking care of advertising and media strategies.  I was really good friends with one of the product managers at Rip Curl, Stephane Vinolo who went on to become the CEO for the European licensee of Insight.  He didn’t tell me what brand he was moving to but he asked me if I were to leave what brand would I leave for and I told him that after 6 years at Rip Curl it would have to be either RVCA or Insight. He then called me 6 months later and asked me if I wanted to be his right hand man as a Marketing Manager, which turned more into a general management kind of role.

In Europe we were putting in place the marketing plan and implementing these product plans out of Insight HQ in Australia where those super creative guys like Steve Gorrow were doing all the hands on stuff. I was proud to be part of that whole process. We got 2 awards for best advertising with Sima and EuroSima and that was the beautiful work of Steve Gorrow.  It’s 10 times easier working with the creativity behind a brand like Insight, you don’t have to search for a meaning or a concept, it’s all there, so whenever we wanted to do a pop up store or something we could just get all those Dopamine images for example and that was it. It was beautiful.

What did your job at Insight involve on a day-to-day basis?
My first mission was with marketing management, but I ended up doing more general management stuff and financial management stuff, which I had learnt while studying and with previous work experience.

How did you get started with your own business?
I stayed there for 3 years then things didn’t go too well with the new licensee for Insight Europe. It was a super edgy and a beautiful brand but not bankable in a way. We didn’t get the investments from those top guys so there wasn’t enough return for him, so he decided to quit the license. I had the plan then to start my own agency and work a little bit with Insight but with some other projects I had in mind, which was the transition. I still worked with insight but started to work with some other brands like Nike when they were still into surfing and we had a few concepts worked out with them. Then in the meantime I had the whole idea and concept for the Ride O’Meter, which I had for many years because we started it at Rip Curl as an internal tool, but I wanted to go further with it so I decided to invest time and money into further developing the tool and the platform.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
I like that I am building a team and gathering young talent around an idea. I love the energy that comes out of a group of creative and passionate people, which is what I do with my own company and my own money. I love the energy in our office space and that our employees are fully committed to action sports, they are the gas to our companies motor and that’s what I love the most. And that’s why it’s called Playground, as a kid I would go to the playground and see these guys coming there after work, taking off their suits and putting their sweats on for a game of basketball. And it didn’t matter where they all came from, they joined together to make teams. And that’s what we are about, versatile individuals with different skills to create a team.

Who has inspired you to follow this path?
My main mentors would have to be Jamie Brisick, former pro surfer and former editor of Surfing Mag when I was working there. He has that vision in the surfing culture that made me believe that I could be in love with it forever. Not just the sport itself but just the culture behind it and the relationship we have with the ocean. He opened my eyes about what surfing can mean to me beyond the scores.
My second major one would be Bruno Debauché. He was a friend of Jamie and was a true hardcore skater from the 80’s who started a lot of magazines, started his own TV Company and was just involved with so many amazing projects. To me, he was the essence of board culture in Europe. When I got back to France I called him and told him Jamie recommended I get in touch with him, so we hooked up and became friends, and it was thanks to him I got my initial job at Rip Curl. To me he was a true friend and a true visionary.

What is your next step career wise?
I would like to push forward my projects. In these hard times within the industry I believe there is space for experts and agencies with an outside vision. Maybe 10-15 years ago the industry was too young to go to that level, but now I think it is a lot more professional and there is a need for those expert agencies to get behind brands and athletes etc, which is what I want to do with my agency, I want to position it well within the current market. I have a few other projects I’m working on as well which could help become part of the new face of the boardsports industry in Europe. 

Where can we find you online?


Posted by: Troy Roennfeldt, on October 11, 2013
Categories: Interviews