SOLANA BEACH — At 27, Rob Dunfey has joined an exclusive club that includes Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and Lady Gaga — college dropouts who went on to become fabulously successful. In less than two years, he has cornered the market in skateboard instruction in all 50 states except Wyoming as well as in Canada, England and Northern Ireland through his business Go Skate Skateboard School.
In 2006, at the age of 21, Dunfey made the bold move of walking away from the entrepreneurship program at Loyala Marymount University in Los Angeles.
“I had a successful Internet business that was featured in the Boston Globe and Skateboarder magazine, as well as videos, and wondered why my focus was on school instead of business,” he said. “I thought my parents’ money, and my time, could be put to better use.”
Dunfey returned home to York, Maine, and started a commercial and residential cleaning business, living off his credit card and selling everything of value including his car.
“I had to borrow my parents’ car to get to my first cleaning job,” he remembered. The business grew until he reached 19 employees. In 2009 he sold the business so he could return to California, although he didn’t know exactly where he was headed or what he was going to do.
“I was driving and thought I’d look somewhere in San Diego or Orange County,” he recalled. “When I drove through Solana Beach I thought ‘Wow!’”
Dunfey got a job cold calling but said it was brutal, so he posted an ad offering cleaning services. Later, he advertised skateboard lessons through Google’s AdWord program where his ad appeared next to search results for “skateboard instruction” targeting San Diego. In addition to San Diego, he began receiving queries from Washington, D.C., Boston and New York City.
“I hooked them up with friends in the area who I knew were qualified,” he explained.
The challenge, Dunfey said, in contemplating a national skateboarding school was certifying instructors. Unlike most sports like tennis