Carl Segerstrale has always had a passion for surfing. “I remember doodling surf logos in notebooks and imagined making a living in the surf industry,” he says. “Even as I began a career teaching middle school English the fantasy lingered.”
Seven years ago he traded in the familiar surroundings of San Francisco, California for the unexplored Pacific coast of Nicaragua—a surfer’s dream place to live.
He joined forces with his friend Bryan McMandon, who founded The Nicaragua Surf Report website and the pair began posting surf reports and photos. “NSR was the first website of its kind in Nicaragua,” says Carl. “Visitors to the site had a real thirst for knowledge.”
Traffic to the site began to build and the fervent requests for information provided an opportunity to monetize the NSR site. There were queries about surf schools, the best beaches, and places to stay.
“We ranked high in Google searches despite basic page design,” says Carl. “In the early years placing ads for local business generated our income.”
Over the years Carl, Brian, and Heather (Brian’s wife) have transformed what was once just an informative website into an enterprise profitable enough to support their families…without taking up all their time.
After all…a surfer wants the freedom and flexibility to be on the water for some part of the day.
The website has led to other businesses (like vacation rentals and a surf school), too.
In the early days one person could easily handle all of the vacation inquires and bookings and still have time to relax, but with an influx of tourism to Nicaragua the NSR team has had to expand. Currently four full-time employees are needed just to stay on top of the rental enquires while two photographers work to keep the surf report up to date.
“I love the flexibility of self-employment. NSR is a complex project where success is measured in return clientele. We are always learning and getting better. We are a tight knit team who enjoy working together so even the challenges are gratifying,” says Carl.
NSR keeps Carl busy…but life in Nicaragua is still far removed from the fast-paced life he lived in San Francisco. “A typical day involves an early morning walk to the beach with my dog. I can usually get a surf session in before heading over to the office. I live a short walk from both surf and work so it makes keeping an eye on both pretty easy. Another surf session in the evening followed by a cold beer at sunset is the perfect end to my day.”
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