Cruz Foam: Sustainable Surfing

Cruz Foam is aiming to tackle sustainability in their own way. Through their backgrounds in material and chemical engineering, John Felts and Marco Rolandi set out to create a sustainable replacement for surfboard blanks. Surfboard blanks are made out of various types of foam, though polyurethane foam has been used in the making of these boards since the 1950s. The main reason this foam has been widely used is its ability to shape easily. However easy it is to produce and shape polyurethane surfboard blanks, they are toxic to nature since they are non-renewable and do not decompose. Coming from Santa Cruz this student and teacher, both avid surfers, have put their minds together to come up with the idea of creating a surfboard blank out of shrimp shell wastes. Shrimp shells, along with other crustaceans, have exoskeletons composed of a polymer that can be formed and shaped much like other foams. Having made great progress and obtaining good results, they have pursued their work further. They are now in the process of moving outside of the school and creating the actual business. Opening a new lab where they can further their research has given them the hopes of creating a sustainable and similar surfboard blank that the people are expecting. They have established an advisory board that consists of Ward Coffey, Daniel Hutchins, and others soon to be named.


They have a patent pending with UC Santa Cruz for the creation of the foam and the product of the surfboard blank created from the foam. There is a lot of confidence in their being able to create a surfboard blank that shapes easily and is comparable in strength to polyurethane. It is clear that John and his other co-founders, Marco Rolandi, associate professor and chair of the Electrical Engineering Department at UC Santa Cruz, and Xiaolin Zhang, are focused on sustainability and although they are focusing on surfboard blanks for now it doesn’t mean they will stop there. When asked about manufacturing of their products, John stated that in the future they would ideally like to partner or license their technology to other surfboard manufacturers so they can mass produce their Cruz Foam boards. They are focusing their efforts in Santa Cruz at the moment, but they are hoping to expand to the rest of California and later to other states to help stop toxic materials from entering our ecosystem. When asked what will come once they complete their product, they stated that they will give samples of the product to famous and local surfers such as Ward Coffey to test.


Cruz Foam has been in numerous startup events that have helped them get to where they are today. They participated and placed second in UC’s Gradslam where research is presented and awarded. They entered UC Santa Cruz’s Business Design Showcase and won third. They continued onto to Innovation Goes Outside in Morgan Hill where they pitched their idea in a forum setting and received offers for business consulting and lawyers. From here they received $5,000 in legal services from Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati (WSGR). Cruz Foam also took 1st place in the student division at our own Startup Challenge Monterey Bay. Cruz Foam is dedicated towards its mission and has now been accepted Santa Cruz Accelerates at Santa Cruz Works where they will receive help on furthering their business and entering the market.


A sustainable product that can create change in the ecosystem while not changing the sport of surfing. Keep your eyes out when purchasing your next surfboard for Cruz Foam and help make a difference.

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