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Meet Tom Allen of Sweet Ride Surf School in Manhattan Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tom Allen.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Tom. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I’ve been teaching surfing for 6 years now. My surf career began when I worked with Billabong as an intern after my sophomore year of college. I helped out with their marketing department and taught lessons at their camps in Huntington Beach. During college, I would teach in Santa Cruz near Pleasure Point.

After college, I moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in comedy. I knew I wanted to teach surfing during the day. So, upon arrival, I looked up a number of surf schools and applied immediately. During my first year here, I worked with a surf school in Venice beach as I began hitting the stand-up comedy scene.

After about a year, it dawned on me that, with a little investment, I could easily start my own surf school. That way, I could teach where I wanted to teach and run my lessons the way I felt that they should be run. So, after a few months of planning and investments, Sweet Ride Surf School was born! We have been growing quickly ever since. My goal has always been to assess each client’s personal needs so that they can truly improve and begin riding those waves! We customize each lesson. We don’t just go by one generic lesson plan. I feel that that that aspect of my surf school is what has led to such a strong and loyal client base.

I’ve always wanted to create a life that combined my two passions in life: surfing and comedy. With Sweet Ride, I have been able to do exactly that. I teach surfing during the day and tell jokes at night. Living the dream!

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The beginning was very slow. There are a lot of surf schools in the LA area, so it is pretty competitive. The biggest obstacle was gaining enough online visibility to attract clients.

I quickly began learning different marketing techniques. I knew that if I wanted to compete in this market, Sweet Ride had to be easy to find on the internet after searching for LA surf schools. I’d say a turning point came for us when our Yelp presence grew. After a few months of lessons, positive reviews starting flowing in and, shortly after that, the school took off!

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Sweet Ride Surf School – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
At Sweet Ride, we don’t just offer a generic surf lesson for every client. We customize each lesson as much as possible so that we can identify each client’s goal and what they want to gain out of their lesson. For some people, they just want to stand on a wave. Others would like to become independent surfers. Or, sometimes, people come in who already have some experience and want to work on a specific move such as turning. I have trained my instructors to cater to all of these needs. I believe this really sets us apart. We care about each client. It’s not about just getting people into the water and pushing them into waves. We want people to grow and improve their experience with us and, above all, have fun while they’re doing it!

I’m most proud of the satisfaction we get from every client. One of the biggest factors for most people is fear. Surfing can be very intimidating and we have been very successful at helping to eliminate the fear. In doing so, we have been able to make sure that every client has a TON of fun during his/her lesson! That’s what I’m most proud of.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I would like to keep growing and expanding. I’m working on having enough equipment to accommodate large groups so that we can hold big lessons for birthdays, bachelor/bachelorette parties, and the employees of a company.

I am also considering having two locations for lessons. I love teaching in Manhattan Beach but I would also like to offer lessons in Venice for those who are staying around there or have a tough time making it out to Manhattan.


  • Private Lesson: $90 (Includes board and wetsuit)
  • 2 Person Lesson: $160 (includes board and wetsuit)
  • 3 Person Lesson: $210 (includes board and wetsuit)
  • 4 Person Lesson: $240 (includes board and wetsuit)
  • Get Independent Package: $280 (four lessons to get you independent)

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