NEXUS HQ Interviews Blayne Ross, CEO and Co-Founder of ShoreLock

Blayne Ross is the CEO and Founder of ShoreLock, a company with the objective to protect and restore critically eroding coastlines around the globe. Developed as an environmentally friendly addition to current techniques, ShoreLock aims to protect the coastline and marine habitats by reducing the frequency of coastal dredging. The ShoreLock technology is an innovative beach erosion treatment that aids in maximizing a beach’s capacity to dewater quickly and retain sand.

Blayne is a Fellow of the inaugural NEXUS Impact Accelerator, which is providing resources and support to leverage incredible social entrepreneurs within our community who are working on critical global challenges.

NEXUS HQ interviewed Blayne to learn a bit more about the inspiration behind ShoreLock and also how he is holding up in this era of COVID-19.

Tell us a bit about ShoreLock. What’s your why and how did it come to be?

My partner who is a scientist started developing the technology back in 2008 and we actually didn’t start as a company until 2018. It kind of sat on a shelf for years and years and then I really decided I wanted to have a bigger impact on the world. I knew that what I was currently doing at the time wasn’t going to be enough. My partner had this amazing solution as a scientist but it still needed to get out into the world. Finally, I said, you know what? I’m going to give it my life and I’m going to make this happen because this is important.

How would you describe your company to a six-year-old?

Our company helps sustainably keep the sand on the beach so the waves don’t wash it out over time.

Given the current state of affairs, how has ShoreLock responded to or been impacted by COVID-19?

Our sales model does two things. One is to governments and one is direct to resorts. So anything that’s happening in the resort industry right now has been put on hold and most of the budgets are probably going to push into 2021. So it has more or less paused that side of the sales process until this is over.

What’s one thing that has helped you adjust to this new normal? Do you have any work from home hacks or practices that you’ve been doing to stay grounded or stay productive?

I’m trying to have routine and not just be so random. When you when you go to an office you have a place that things happen in sequential order all the time, it’s very different than working at home where you’re, you’re on email and then you’re answering a phone call and then you’re having to make lunch in your kitchen and then you notice that the laundry needs to be shifted from the washer to the dryer. So I kind of try to create a routine where I say I am NOT doing any household things between this time and this time, even if I’m walking by a pile of clothes.

Share a little more about ShoreLock’s vision and what you feel is its greatest impact on the world.

Our greatest impact on the world will be the preservation of indigenous communities as well as infrastructure protection in the long term. For us to be able to help reduce the rate which some of the islands are eroding will be incredible because their land is the first that is going to be disappearing. And then from an infrastructure and real estate value proposition around the world, you know, the beaches are the first layer of protection that we have before we get into infrastructure. So if the beach isn’t there, the roads will wash out, and if the roads wash out, you lose your ability to move around. So for us, if we had 30% of the planet covered by 2030, that would be amazing.

What are some of ShoreLock’s core values as a company?

Education, communication, and developing relationships with our clients where they really trust us and understand why it is we are doing what we are doing. The impact that they can have doesn’t need to just be financial, but to understand that they are making an environmental choice that is sustainable in the long term and impacts many ecosystems.  

What accomplishment are you personally most proud of to date?

Recently getting our pilots through the Florida legislature, starting with Surfside Florida. This will be our first one in the States.

Where is the biggest area of support needed for ShoreLock?

Developing relationships with state and local governments. We have mostly operated in the Caribbean and are trying to get into the U.S. for the first time.

What is your favorite NEXUS memory?

It’s my very first involvement with NEXUS actually. A friend of mine introduced me to Rachel (CEO of NEXUS) and said she wants you to come in and talk to NEXUS Latin America down in Miami, this was in December of 2017. And I was told they wanted me to talk on community, and I said great! I had just produced this movie on community and has a lot of thoughts and had spoken on it before, so I’m ready to go. But then it turns out that other people may have had a similar topic so the night before she contacted me and said I need to pick something else to talk about. So I was like wait a new topic!? I’m not prepared! But I ended up getting to talk the next day and it went really well and I enjoyed it. I actually chose to talk about failure in business and what does that mean to me and what does it mean to other people. I discussed the stigma around it and how to unpack that. It ended up being a really fun experience. And Rachel was so sweet and hilarious about the entire scenario.

Who is your dream connection or person that you want to meet? It can be professional, personal or both.

Tony Robbins.

What celebrity would play you in the biopic of ShoreLock?

James Franco.

What show are you currently binge watching when you aren’t busy running Shorelock?

Freud on Netflix. Right before that it was Hunters on Amazon which was super good. I tore through that. It’s about covert Jewish Holocaust survivors that are hunting down Nazis that were brought over to the US to work on the science programs and taking them out one by one. Robert DeNiro is in it.

Who are three of the most inspirational people in your life?

My friend Matt Anello. He recently passed away but he’s always been my spirit animal. He really always kept me grounded and realizing I can always be a better person, no matter what I’m doing, I think that there’s always room for improvement.

Professionally, my friend Andrew Torrey has been as inspiration lately. He’s really dug into his career and focused on creating something in a way that I’m really proud of him.

And I think from a health standpoint, Tim Ferriss has been a very inspirational person. He is a writer that started off with The 4-Hour Work Week about 10 years ago. He basically does body and life-hacking tips.

How do you typically start your day?

First a double-espresso, then I meditate, then I read CNN, then I do about 25 jumping jacks and I’m ready to get going!

The inaugural accelerator cohort is in several industries but have you noticed any similarities? Or another fellow you have seem to have synchronicities with?

Yes definitely; Felix (ChopValue) and Sam (Coral Vita). Felix’s company is something that makes sense with my design firm and working from a material manufacturing standpoint. I think there are things we could collaborate on and work together.

And then Sam works on coral restoration. Everyone’s gotten on the bandwagon that protecting coral reefs is really important. But what they haven’t gotten on the bandwagon with is understanding that unless we change the way that we re-nourish the beaches and areas where the coral are, with the re-nourishment processes that we currently have, the same problems will come back again and cause disease. So, it goes hand-in-hand.  We’re part of the Small Islands Resiliency Program in the Bahamas, and have been having a conversation with NEXUS and trying to figure out what we can do down there and hopefully, we get to work on a project together.

When travel resumes post-COVID-19, where are you going on vacation? Or where do you first want to go, even if not vacation?

I really feel I’m ready for a sailing vacation. I just want to get on a 65 foot sailboat and spend a week hanging out, floating, being outdoors and outside.

What are one or two books that you found most helpful on your entrepreneurial journey?

The first one is Thank and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and the second one is called Built to Sell: Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You by John Warrillow.

Given what you know now what would you tell your younger self when you first started this company?

I would definitely say I need to be patient but also to be broader in my reach. I think I can be very tailored and very specific. I think I was trying to be too perfect and can let that go.

We browsed on your social media a bit. Can you tell us the backstory of this photo and a bit more about this day?

This was with NEXUS at the UN in New York.  It was a really fun and exciting opening session where I was able to sit in a Braintrust for World Oceans Day that was soon coming up. It was really neat to be able to go in and talk to them and kind of figure out how to strategize our work at the global level. It was awesome to be able to participate at that level. 

*This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.*

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