Overbye: Heckuva time to start a startup

By Mark Overbye

The prophetic lyrics of Bruce Springsteen’s Promised Land ring true as we attempt to launch a new boat company in the heart of a pandemic:

Well there’s a dark cloud rising from the desert floor
I packed my bags and I’m heading straight into the storm
Gonna be a twister to blow everything down
That ain’t got the faith to stand its ground
Blow away the dreams that tear you apart
Blow away the dreams that break your heart
Blow away the lies that leave you nothing but lost and brokenhearted

Working seven days a week since October, we’ve been fast tracking the launch of Anthem Marine; a novel concept spanning the tow sports and pontoon worlds.

Today, in the midst of a devastating global economic blow, untold retailers have their noses pressed against front windows, wondering when their parking lots will fill up again. Yes, many new questions and challenges have cropped up and countless crystal balls have gone cloudy. We do see a path however, and here’s how we’re battling the storm.

Turn off the news

I only watch the news during the few minutes I typically take to eat lunch. The virus, the market, closed businesses, what a downer. That wet blanket of negative energy strips any sense of precious peace out of my life. Five minutes of news and the door to anxiety gets swung wide open. It’s no wonder the average American is full of fear and panic if they’re fed a non-stop stream of horror. At this point we all know the issue(s); its cause, symptoms, likelihood of getting it, transmission, odds of death and actions to take.  You choose to either be paralyzed by it or put it in a respectful place in the background of your life and move forward with your life’s priorities. 

Foot firmly on the gas

Our commitment to deliver is steadfast and we will not waver. A fortune has been spent and there’s no backing up – or out. We’ve invested heavily in patents and trademarks, license agreements, design, prototyping, testing, production inventory, staffing, marketing, sales expenses and much more.

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The commencement of production planned for Q2 2020 was in the books early in Q4 2019. We know that even if things go perfectly it will be months before expected production levels are achieved that bring profitability.

Pre-production revenues are zero, it’s 100% expense, so slowing down just raises long-term costs. So we’re not slowing down. At all.

People love boating

When this is behind us, people will again recognize they love boating. The virus is a huge distraction but that doesn’t alter the desire to have fun on the water. Built into our DNA, boats are embedded in the human story since Noah’s ark. Even the most diehard news watcher will realize how much fun they’re having when they’re on the water. If people are having fun in depressing times, they’ll seek out more of that fun. This virus too shall pass. Comfortable knowing this, we press on.

Do the right thing without freezing

Our team is comprised of many dedicated people focused on creating something special. These people and their minds are our greatest resource. Attentive to their work and personal lives, the necessary steps are being taken to ensure their physical and mental well-being.

The solution is to take a deep breath, analyze the situation, identify the best possible outcome and take action. We strive to make intelligent decisions and do the right thing but we refuse to be rendered powerless.

Quit the subscription to fear

Fear is rampant in all of our lives, it’s a question of how much time and space you give it. When our lives and environs are predictable, it’s mostly sunny weather. In uncertain times, fear can turn our lives into a hurricane. When fear is teamed with its best friend worry, such destructive power may be limitless in undermining every aspect of one’s personal and work life.  Put fear in its place, locked in a box in the basement.

In my personal pursuit of more Zen, I realize that what happens to me happens for me. Accordingly, I’ll pause to make assessments, identify the learning points and aim to grow. As I take those stress reducing deep breaths, my intent is to inhale hope, optimism and success while exhaling fear, worry and doubt.

Closed doors, open for success

Already customer-centric, Anthem’s point in its lifecycle means we don’t have to worry about customer evaporation. Unlike more mature businesses now dealing with a business implosion and scarce cash flow, Anthem acknowledges the impact of grisly external circumstances.

Accordingly, turning a focus inward and using this time wisely to train sales teams, re-equip technical departments, hone websites and social media, renovate buildings and infrastructure, re-examine processes and reassess business practices is a wise decision.

There’s no place for a victim’s mentality; instead be grateful for the time to buttress your business by shoring up how to do better when customers return. We are doing the same and looking at ways to be a more effective partner.

The Boss was right

So we’re going to be rebellious in the face of uncertainty. Like nearly every challenge, this is temporary.  We’ll navigate these tough times with a sense of purpose, intending to be ready when the storm passes. And if we learn anything in the process, when we’re staring down the next obstacle, we’ll be stronger and smarter. 

Mark Overbye is the CEO of Anthem Marine, as well as the chairman of USA Waterski and Wake Sports Foundation. He is also the founder of Montara Boats and Gekko Sports.

2 comments

  1. Great post, Mark. Your positivity and ability to view a difficult situation without getting into the “suck” has always been an inspiration to me. I wish you success in your new endeavor.

  2. Keep the faith brother. They say that we have the energy of 4 H-bombs tied up in our bodies, so you have plenty of energy to sustain you

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