Munich Startup: Who are you and what do you do at Alaljojo? Please introduce yourselves!
Alaljojo: We’re Al, Al and Jojo from Herrsching near Lake Ammer. We build DIY wind surfboards that you can either craft at home or in one of our workshops with a crafting coach.
Munich Startup: What problem does your startup solve?
Alaljojo: Several: First and foremost, we want to give water sports enthusiasts the one-of-a-kind experience of finally building their very own high performance board – it’s a dream lots of windsurfers have that they can now easily fulfill within three days.
What we also offer is a custom design option, which also enhances the product experience. Not only can you select your visual design, but also functional aspects, such as the position of the footstraps or the foil-ready option. That means our board offers a simple solution for when there isn’t much wind, you can use what’s called a “foil” instead of a fin. That helps you pick up speed on the board even in light wind, which gives you more flexibility in terms of when and where you can go windsurfing.
Munich Startup: But that’s nothing out of the box!
Alaljojo: It is with this degree of simplicity! What’s special about our concept is the “9 Step Plug & Play” approach, which is optimized for the stability and performance of the board.
Alaljojo is banking on sustainability
What’s behind it is a hollow construction that makes it possible for you to shape a board in nine steps. We’re moving away from a styrofoam core, which isn’t as sustainable since it has to be sanded into shape. You can think of our Willi like a construction kit, much like a Billy bookshelf from Ikea. And just like with the Swedes, you get (almost) everything you need to construct the board in a brown box.
That means this approach provides a high degree of usability in terms of shaping that doesn’t require any special tools (such as a planer, vacuum pump, etc.).
Munich Startup: Was there a point when you nearly failed?
Alaljojo: We run Alaljojo as sidepreneurs in addition to our main jobs. That makes time our scarcest resource. On the one hand, that’s obviously a limitation that we balance out with a great deal of discipline and focus. On the other hand, our experience has been that the quality of our product improves as a result: We seriously focus on every step, but still have breaks that give us the opportunity to think about individual decisions. Working under time constraints in this stage would be fatal. One happy and excited customer is more valuable to us than five who are just satisfied.
“High potential for transferring the idea to the rest of the water sports market”
Munich Startup: Where would you like to be in one year, and where in five years?
Alaljojo: We’re currently on the market with a freestyle board. We’re going to launch additional board models next year. We also see high potential for transferring the idea to the rest of the water sports market. Plus, we’re excited about rolling out the workshop concept in spots and at surf camps.
A focal point of our future activities will be to continuously expand our sustainability concept – with our hollow construction, we’ve already been able to avoid using a styrofoam core – and from a holistic point of view, there are still so many exciting challenges we want to tackle.
We also have a lot of other ideas for making water sports more contemporary and attractive than they are at the moment.
Munich Startup: What do you think about Munich as a startup location?
Alaljojo: As genuine Munich natives, we love Munich and the Alpine foothills with their many lakes and rivers.
The open exchange of ideas and the opportunities of the Munich ecosystem with its many clever startups, strong founders and top-notch universities is perfect. Without TUM, for example, and Makerspace, we would still be a long way from where we are today.
At the same time, we obviously would like to see a bit more of a risk appetite from corporates and VCs.
Munich Startup: Isar River or English Garden?
Alaljojo: Lake Ammer is the best! But we love surfing on the Eisbach just as much as a long SUP tour on the Isar. We live where other people go on vacation and are grateful for that each and every day!