Cruz Foam Tackles Sustainability of Surfboards

Cruz Foam is aiming to tackle sustainability in their own way. With backgrounds in material and chemical engineering, founders John and Marco set out to create a sustainable replacement for surfboard blanks.

Surfboard blanks are made out of different 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 these 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, put their minds together to come up with the idea of creating a surfboard blank out of shrimp shells. Shrimp shells, along with other crustaceans, have a cell wall structure composed of a polymer that can be formed and shaped much like other foams. With making great progress and getting 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 are expanding by looking into establishing an advisory board which will most likely consist of Ward Coffey, Dan Hutchins, and others soon to be determined.


They own the patent for the creation of the foam and the product of the surfboard blank created from the foam. Currently their chitin foam is 2 times as dense, meaning their only problems are with the scaling of both the physics and dynamics of the product. There is a lot of confidence in them being able to create a surfboard blank that shapes easily and is comparable in strength.

It is clear that John and his other co-founders, Marco Rolandi 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 they would ideally like to partner or license their technology to other surfboard manufactures so they can mass produce their Cruz Foam boards. Focusing their efforts in Santa Cruz at the moment but they are hoping to expand to California and later other states to help eliminate toxic materials from entering our ecosystem. When asked what will come from the completion of their product they stated that they will give out the product to famous and local surfers such as Ward Coffey to test the product and provide feedback.


Cruz Foam has been in numerous startup like events that have helped them get to where they are today. They have participated in UC’s Grandslam 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 Mountain View 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 to its mission and has now been accepted into Santa Cruz’s accelerator 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. Visit their website, to see what all the fuss is about!

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