In the fifth installment of the Beneath the Surface Podcast, Corey and Sean bring Corey’s more sensible half, Chief Operations Officer and BOTE Co-Founder, Magda Cooper, into the studio. Wife to Corey, mother to their three children, and the female founder to the BOTE brand, we dive deep with Magda to find out how she manages the juggling act while keeping her sweet demeanor… just kidding, she’s actually the first one to drop f%!#* in the podcast (don’t worry, it’s bleeped).
Like all startup stories, Magda and Corey had their moments of frustration, fear of failure, and dwindling bank accounts, but unlike all startup stories, they had each other. Their combined stubbornness and belief in the lifestyle pushed them to succeed.
From lugging her newborn to their very first trade show through sleet and snow to coining the idea for the BOTE Inflatable Dock, a top seller in its product category, Magda views every day as an opportunity to get shit done and make a difference. As she puts it, there’s no other choice than to succeed.
COMING AT YOU DIRECT, FROM THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, TO THE CENTER OF EVERYWHERE.
Who's In The Episode
Lead Designer, Co-Founder, and CEO at BOTE, Corey Cooper is a licensed engineer hailing from Auburn University. Corey is the pioneer of the DarkRoom, assisting with the design of the machinery, concepting the layout and ultimately developing the workflow used in DarkRoom production. Corey’s passion for this project is so strong that on any given day, regardless of how busy things are at BOTE, you will often find Corey working in the DarkRoom.
Magda Cooper is the Co-Founder and Chief Operations Officer at BOTE, wife to BOTE CEO, Corey Cooper, mother of three, and three-time collegiate swimming National Champion at Auburn University. Magda’s ability to juggle it all coupled with her ‘no quitting allowed’ policy has been critical in the success of BOTE. Her belief in the product and eye for identifying market needs and trends has brought the public a quality line of lifestyle products that are second to none. When Magda isn’t running the business or teaching her three children that good work ethic pays off, you’ll find her finding time in her schedule to work out, likely on the water.
Sean Murphy is the Director of Photography at BOTE and a world-renowned photographer based in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. After spending most of his career based in Los Angeles, shooting for brands like Adidas, Red Bull, and Toyota, just to name a few, Sean moved back to the Redneck Riviera. You can find Sean capturing gritty America and spontaneous moments that translate into visually stunning photography.
“BOTE has become our life. From business to product we live it every second of every day. We call it our fourth child! We’ve been lucky enough to be surrounded with people and employees who share in our passion and believe in the products. It’s never easy and there is no delineation between BOTE the company and our everyday life. So we have to love it.” - Magda Cooper, Chief Operations Officer and Co-Founder at BOTE
Links From The Episode
- During a recruiting trip, Magda learns Auburn University isn’t in Georgia.
- Magda’s nagging pays off and Florida Sportsman reviews BOTE.
- Paddle Guru gives you a running tally of paddle board races near you.
- Check out the simple yet badass BOTE Inflatable Dock in all its glory.
- Sean Murphy’s ‘calmness’ is captured in the video Murphy: Simmer Down.
“Starting a business with your spouse is difficult, but I can’t imagine having done it without him (Corey). It’s a balancing act between family, free time, fitness and the business. It’s a juggling act.” – Magda/ Chief Operations Officer / Co-Founder
Here we go again. Corey and Sean bring BOTE Co-Founder and COO, Magda Cooper, into the studio to find out how she does it all.
00:02:40 Get To Know Magda Cooper
Originally from Poland, Magda moved to North Carolina with her family when she was only two years old. Her parents were into Olympic sports, so she never really got into traditional American sporting events, but had a knack for athletics in general. At a young age, she developed a love for swimming and flash forward to her early 20’s, she’s a 3-time collegiate National Champion at Auburn University.
She says it’s her hyper-focused approach to life.
Corey says it’s ADD.
We say it’s badass.
00:06:33 No Other Choice - It Has To Work
Let’s go back to 2008. Corey and Magda just had their first kid. They paid off all their previous life debt and were holding steady jobs during a recession. So it only makes sense for them to start a business, right?
Magda and Corey vividly recall, with stomach churns included, cashing in their 401K’s, racking up a ton of credit card debt, and never considering failure as an option. In fact, Corey brings up a time, about eight months into BOTE, when he wanted to throw up the white flag, but Magda’s belief in the product, belief in Corey, and refusal to fail seemed to smack him out of it.
“You have to sacrifice everything and you have to be really really stubborn because, maybe there are unicorns out there that everything goes perfect for them when they start a business, but every business owner that I know that’s been in business for a length of time hasn’t (found it) easy. So if you imagine the worst-case scenario and you imagine misery, go ahead and double that.” - Magda Cooper, Chief Operations Officer and Co-Founder at BOTE
00:13:11 The Hustle
Three years into the BOTE lifestyle, Magda gets involved in the community side of the business, working all angles to get brand recognition. From traveling the country doing paddle board races decked out in head to toe BOTE apparel to badgering Florida Sportsman to review the BOTE product line, Magda takes the approach of any interaction can become an opportunity.
00:16:27 The Juggling Act
What started as a vision between two spouses with a newborn has now turned into a family of five and a business that celebrated their decade milestone. Magda has juggled it all, and if it wasn’t for putting her blinders on and focusing on the work ahead, she sees how it would have been easy to imagine herself in a different situation.
00:17:44 A Future Family Business
Corey and Madga got into this business because Madga knew quality paddle boards were a new idea and Corey, well, he likes making cool shit. BOTE is intertwined in their lives with no delineation between leaving the office and tucking the kids into bed. Magda doesn’t see that as a bad thing and describes how the ability to bounce ideas off each other in real-time as well as being the product testers has allowed them to develop unique and quality products that people want. The BOTE lifestyle is the Cooper lifestyle, where even their children want to run the family business one day. There’s no escaping it.
“That’s the cool thing though. If we were a bunch of dudes and it was only a guy brand, it would be one thing. I think we got an awesome mix from ourselves and everybody else that brings a great mix of products into the business so that when we make stuff, it's almost like… I don’t want to use the googly term ‘we’re making stuff for the family’, we’re making stuff for us. And we just happen to be middle-aged people with kids and families, normal stuff, and so I think it's what attracts people to our brand.” - Corey Cooper, CEO and Co-Founder at BOTE
00:23:38 Magda Settles the Age-Old Argument - Who’s Crazier?
Corey and Sean know how lucky they are to have Magda along for the ride, putting up with their crap for the past 10 years, but who truly gives out the most crap? Only a wife can explain, in detail, how her husband and his good friend are their own special kind of crazy.
Who’s crazier? We (think) the winner is Corey, but both feel the other makes them look less like a psychopath. So… tie?
00:27:15 Magda On Working With Your Spouse
Magda gives the listeners advice on working with your spouse. Startup businesses are hard, miserable even. When you work with your spouse, you’re going to get pissed at each other, it’s unavoidable. But the single biggest benefit to working with your spouse is that you can’t quit, because you can’t walk away from each other. It’s a partnership that integrates your work/life balance to create a chaotic imbalance she wouldn’t trade for the world.
Here’s to 10 more years!