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Category Designer Spotlight: Kelly Slater

Thinking back to our 3rd Annual Category Design Summit at the Surf Ranch & our panel which included 11x Pro Surfing Champion, Kelly Slater.


During our live-panel talk, an interesting discussion broke out between two modern masters of category design: one a legendary innovator in the enterprise software space; the other, perhaps the greatest ever to step foot on a surfboard. #goat

Qualtrics CEO Ryan Smith grabbed the mic and opened up with this defining statement: “Where you start is not really where you end up," and segued into this question about refining your category: “Are you willing to burn the boat?”

Smith's question resonated with Slater, who expanded on risk, reward, and potential changes to the technology behind his Surf Ranch in five years time.

With less than two days left in the 2019 Billabong Pipe Masters waiting period, this is a huge week for Slater, who is currently entrenched on Oahu’s iconic North Shore. Not only is he going for his landmark 8th win at Pipeline, he’s also simultaneously battling for the last spot on Team USA’s Olympic surf team headed to the ‪2020 Tokyo‬ Summer Olympics.

The Pipe Masters is live today and Slater is in the Round of 16. Best of luck to Kelly and the rest of the competitors ready to enter the gladiator pit that is the Banzai Pipeline!

For a deeper dive into Kelly’s own category design journey, please watch the video below:








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