Careers

Why this 27-year-old ditched Wall Street to start his own wakeboarding business

Banker ditches Wall Street, hits the wakeboard
Banker ditches Wall Street, hits the wakeboard   

It didn't take Joey Flotteron very long to realize that Wall Street was not for him.

In September 2011, four months into his job as a derivatives broker at ICAP, the Villanova graduate had an epiphany: "You're gonna show up to the same office and stare at the same screen next to the same people every day for the rest of your life. That was really tough for me."

Without another job lined up, he resigned. "I actually just quit to not be unhappy anymore," the 27-year-old told CNBC.

As a stopgap measure, Flotteron took a summer job with a wakeboarding school in Sag Harbor, New York, where he had worked during high school and college. He figured the three-month gig would allow him time to figure out his next step while doing something he loved. Flotteron had grown up on Long Island, teaching wakeboarding and captaining charter boats in the Hamptons to pay for college.

Recreational boating is a $5.8 billion-a-year industry in New York, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, with approximately 10 percent of revenues coming from the eastern part of Long Island. But Flotteron noticed that companies on Long Island were so focused on customers in the Hamptons, that the growing tourist population on the North Fork was underserved. He saw an opportunity, and at the end of August 2012, Flotteron decided to strike out on his own.

Joey Flotteron doing something he loves: getting pulled really fast behind a boat.
David Grogan | CNBC
Joey Flotteron doing something he loves: getting pulled really fast behind a boat.

Using all of his savings and a bank loan, he purchased his first boat and founded Peconic Water Sports in Southold, New York. He planned to offer wakeboarding lessons and private charters. In the months before his first summer, Flotteron built a website and tried to publicize his new venture. He enlisted his younger brother and a friend to help out, both of whom got their captain's licenses.

From mid-May to the end of September, Flotteron and his employees work seven days a week to take full advantage of the short season. The business model has expanded from wakeboarding and waterskiing instruction to include private charters, jet ski rentals and a fishing camp. A second location in Noyack opened this summer, and a Miami outpost is set to open this winter.

By CNBC's Karen Stern

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