Almost everyone has experienced the “struggle” of lugging coolers, umbrellas, chairs, and more across hot sand as the sun beats down. Sam Abella and Jude Vaughan, both 16-year-old juniors at Lower Merion High School, have a fix for that. The two aimed to improve the experience for beach-goers at Long Beach Island and Brigantine, both along the Jersey shore, by co-founding Perfect Beach Day NJ. Through their company they provide a variety of services for beach-goers including rentals of coolers, beach chairs, beach tags and other essentials that might be hard to find or too cumbersome to shlep back and forth. Abella and Vaughan spoke with The Escape Home’s Angelina Nelson about their venture.
EH: Tell us how Perfect Beach Day NJ work
Abella: In the morning, we get requests through our website, social media and other direct communication. We take our own gear and set it up at the beach. When our clients arrive we walk them to the setup and they enjoy their day without the hassle. When they’re done for the day, they text us and we come and pick it all up.
Vaughan: We have a list of products on our website and we have two packages, which are a discounted version of individual products that you could rent. Perfect Beach Day is ideal for people who are coming from far away or they have a family or young kids and either don’t have all of the supplies or can’t carry them. It allows them to come down to the beach for one day and not have to worry about renting anything on the spot or setting anything up.
(A basic package includes one cabana, two chairs, one cooler with ice and two beach tags for $80. The upgraded package is all of that, plus two more chairs, two more beach tags, a boogie board and toys for $120.)
EH: When does Perfect Beach Day NJ operate?
Abella: This was a trial year. We started in July and were surprised to see that it worked out. Next year, we plan on starting much earlier. We’re also available every day of the week with very flexible hours. We set up everything really early in the morning and whatever time people get there is fine. I’ve had people come at 8 a.m. and I’ve had people come at noon. We pick up the equipment whenever people are ready to leave. That’s what sets us apart from other people doing this — we’re super flexible with our timing.
EH: What was your inspiration for Perfect Beach Day?
Abella: Seeing our families struggle with getting everything together, forgetting things, and lugging everything down to the beach. We noticed that it took away the pleasure of actually having a beach day itself.
Jude and I are also both super interested in shows like Shark Tank. We really like researching the lives of people. I personally can say that I like looking at how people have started businesses, how they faced adversity, and how they overcame challenges. I think I’ve applied a lot of lessons from other people.
EH: How long have you known each other?
Abella: We met in first grade and we’ve been going to the same school ever since. We went to the same elementary, middle and now high school. We’ve been very close and have always been in the same friend groups, always done the same activities, and we’ve always wanted to start something together.
EH: What did you use as a guide to launch the business?
Abella: We attended an international youth business program. You get to stay in the dorms at the University of Pennsylvania and meet people from places like India, Spain and China. It brings a lot of different perspectives together and the lectures are taught by teacher assistants and Wharton professors from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Me and Jude were grateful to be selected and I think it gave us a really good foundation to build off of, to just really get this thing going.
EH: How much did it cost to launch the business?
Abella: We both received $500 from our parents to launch Perfect Beach Day NJ and have since been able to pay them back. We had a big meeting with them that included a 20-slide business plan. Our parents were excited that we wanted to do something with our summer. We also used some of our family’s beach supplies to get started. Jude had a bunch of chairs and I borrowed my family’s cabanas.
EH: What do your families think of the business?
Abella: My parents both love it. They’re very happy that we’re interacting with such a large community. We’re making people happy and we’re making all these great connections.
EH: How many set-ups do you do in one day
Abella: We’ve done some work on spreadsheets and we realize that we get most of our business on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. On weekdays, we average one setup per day and on weekends it’s generally two. We’ve had some days where we haven’t had business but a lot of people are reaching out to us now, especially later in the summer.
EH: Are there any similar or copycat businesses in the area?
Vaughan: I know on Long Beach Island there’s one other business, which I’ve seen an ad for but all they do is set up your own stuff. They don’t rent it out and charge quite a bit for that service, whereas we charge a much more reasonable amount and also rent out equipment.
EH: What has it been like gaining more exposure?
Vaughan: There was one other article that was published where the writer painted a particular narrative of us.We got a lot of backlash on Facebook for being spoiled kids with rich parents. So we kind of wanted to stray away from that because Perfect Beach Day is more about gaining experience, it’s not really about making money.
Abella: We’re also putting in all the work and we’re very grateful for everything too. People kind of painted a narrative that we were these rich kids who don’t wanna work, but it’s less about the money, more about the experience and the actual teachings that we’re going through.
EH: How did you handle any backlash that you have received?
Abella: We chose not to respond. It’s better to just stay out of these things. With any decision, people are going to have an opinion whether it’s positive or negative. We’re grateful for the support we’ve had and if people are going to hate, it’s okay. We just choose to not pay attention to it.
EH: Do you plan on expanding Perfect Beach Day NJ?
Vaughan: As of right now, it’s only the two of us operating in Brigantine and Long Beach Island, which are both shores in New Jersey. Our idea is to have some friends in Margate and Ocean City start operating under our name and start covering all of the Jersey Shore. We have one friend already on board for next summer. So we know we’re going to be opening in Margate for sure.
EH: Would you consider adding food and drinks?
Abella: Jude and I have talked about the idea of contacting restaurants. It is something that we’re interested in pursuing. I think we’re going to make a survey and send it to all our customers at the end of the summer and see what they think. We realized through the Wharton entrepreneurship class that when running a business, it’s important to see the consumer side.
EH: What has been the biggest takeaway from Perfect Beach Day NJ?
Vaughan: I think the most rewarding part of it is the feeling that we’re having success within a business. We took the entrepreneurship course, we’re both very interested in being entrepreneurs and going into business later in life. So it’s just like a very rewarding feeling to have a successful business that you created.
Abella: And it’s also just nice because the way our business model works, we’re connecting to the customers one on one, and we’re getting to meet a lot of people from different places, different perspectives. And it’s nice having to set up something, have that feeling of doing hard work, but also having the reward of people, appreciating it and thanking you.
EH: What are your future goals for your career?
Abella: We both hope to attend the University of Pennsylvania. We both really love the idea of going to business school for undergrad.