Young Entrepreneur Fuses Love of Action Sports and Travel with Website
For 28-years-old Malibuite Espree Devora, the founder of ZexSports.com, an online action sports social network, the words passionate and exciting are mainstays of her vocabulary when describing her love for action sports and her internet company.
ZexSports.com combines Devora’s passions for action sports, travel and business, interests she began pursuing at age 15, when she “got an itch to travel abroad” and went to Paris. Supporting herself with saving and by obtaining grants, she attended school and played sports.
For the next 10 years Devora’s travels included Italy, Spain, and all over the United States, where she spent anywhere from three months to a year in each place. She would befriend the locals and immerse herself in her surroundings, finding places off the beaten path that were great venues for the sports she enjoyed like surfing, skateboarding and snowboarding.
“I would take trains to all these remote places and I thought what a shame that unless you travel to these places, you never know about them,” she said.
After graduating from Malibu High in 1997, Devora attended the University of Arizona and graduated with degrees in business and creative writing, providing her with the skills to compose business plans as well as network.
Devora continued her travels and slowly the idea for ZexSports was born.”I kept thinking, how someone else can know about these cool places to go kayaking, or to surf, or to do any sports if you aren’t actually there,” she stated.” They weren’t in the travel guides.”
Started as a social network for action sports, ZexSports.com provides information for every aspect gear, clothing, events, lodging and out-of the way prime locales for enthusiasts.
Devora said she wanted “to unite action sports and travel; convering the lifestyle of action sports via the media.” She set up her site and through constant networking and information-sharing, she now has anywhere from 1000 to 2000 representatives world-wide, emailing information about sports events,spots,places to stay and fashion.” Action sports has become so commercialized, so I wanted the public to dictate what people should be wearing, not just for advertising and money,” she said. “I think that some guy in Italy who doesn’t have the money to advertise in the States, but has a dynamic apparel line or gear, should have a presence. That’s what my site is all about.”
Always wanting to stay one step ahead, earlier this year Devora expanded ZexSports.com into media coverage of action sports and related events.
She says ZexSports.com has covered so many events that she can’t remember the number, but most recently, they have been at the U.S Open of surfing and the X-Games. They also covered the “Life Rolls On” benefit, a fundraiser for the research and treatment of spinal cord injuries.
“We were one of the first original social networks for action sports,” Devora said. “Then different people started popping up in the industry and it wasn’t so interesting just to be a social network. I thought, we have to have something new to make us stand out, I saw there was a strong media presence on television but not online.”
She credits much of the success of ZexSports.com to her “team,” the core of which is comprised of 15 people who are involved in all aspects of the company, including media, music, legal consulting and a team of advisor with impressive credentials, including Von Dutch CEO Tonny Sorensen, designer and artist Chase, online publisher Farley Cahen and graphic designer Val Fish, who also owns Malibu Graphic Arts.
The person she describes as her main teammate is Spencer Anderson, her chief technology officer, who designed the site and is described in a press release as the “ZexSports.com resident computer nerd who turns all of Espree’s ideas into code.”Devora said,” We pretty much live in each other’s heads.”
Her team is always expanding and recently ,local clothing designer Kurtis Major,has signed on to design for ZexSports.com.
Writer Marlise Kast, a celebrity reporter whose work has been featured in People magazine and the Star, has also signed on to cover media events. Said Devora,”I found such a quality team—every member has such a great character, intelligence, professionalism and cares about others as well as a passion for action sports—I have all these dynamic people to represent something I created in my head.”
The development and success of ZexSports.com has forced Devora to reevaluate her life and her company.
“I’m so passionate about this.” she said.” I’m so dedicated to my work. I don’t date very much and my girlfriends know that I have very limited time, but it’s OK.”
Says the self-described workaholic,” Someone recently told me ‘you’ll never be able to truly succeed unless you find true balance,’ so I’m starting to reevaluate how I conduct my life,” she said.” I’m starting to take time for things; for instance, I make myself sit down for 30 minutes when I eat. I’ve made a lot of sacrifices but it’s worth it because I’m doing what I love every day.”
When asked about specifics, she said,” I really enjoy each success each day. Down the road I really want to deliver the best product to my market. I want ZexSports.com to be the Google and ABC News for action sports.”
— BY ROBBY MAZZA, MALIBU SURFSIDE NEWS