Category Creation Is the Ultimate Growth Strategy

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This article originally appeared in Harvard Business Review on September 26, 2011

Laird Hamilton is my hero. He’s not only one of the world’s best big-wave surfers but he also created an entirely new category within the sport called tow-in surfing.

The innovation came about because Laird aspired to surf a deepwater reef break on the north shore of Maui called Peahi, or Jaws, where waves can reach 120 feet high. Normally humans can’t paddle fast enough to catch waves even half that size. So Laird gathered some friends and used jet skis to transform surfing into a team sport. In tow-in surfing, one person mans a jet ski and slingshots the surfer into the wave. A third person mans a second jet ski, standing by to rescue either person.


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