Thursday, June 6, 2013

SUP SPN, Locally Owned and Family Run!

By Perry Inos Jr.

Ponce and Merrisa Rasa, owners of SUP SPN, have lived in the CNMI most their lives.  Growing their family into a family of five in the CNMI, which includes Thia, Kaya, and Iris Rasa, allowed them to be accustomed to island lifestyle.  The Rasa’s started a business venture they loved, which allowed them “a way to pursue our love of water sports, and most importantly engage our family at the same time,” stated the Rasa’s.
Ponce and Merissa Rasa
With the potential the CNMI has, the Rasa’s took on the challenge to start a business.  Merissa Rasa stated, “We thought what better than to have a business where we could invest our time promoting islands, doing what we love, and make money doing it.”  SUP boarding, native to Hawaii, was among the hobbies of the Rasa’s, therefore, what more than “to bring a little piece of Hawaii here.” Following the ocean adventure trends, the Rasa’s recognized the increase in SUP boarding enthusiasts around the world in the last three years.  Having fun in the sun, spending time with family, and creating a healthy physical lifestyle under the sun “was the beginning of the idea to start our own business.” stated the Rasa’s.
Ponce and Merissa are experienced in customer service, sales, and management positions plus the assistance at the CNMI Small Business Development Center allowed them to be confident to fund and start SUP SPN. The Rasa’s stated, “The one-on-one small business counseling by Director Perry A. Inos Jr. was extremely helpful.  Mr. Inos possesses extensive knowledge and technical expertise, which prepared us to move forward with aspects of [our] business plan.”
Also, moving past the business idea and implementing the start up process “was very exciting” for the Rasa’s. They found the joy and thrill o letting family and friends know of the new family business venture and received positive feedback from all that heard of their endeavor. The start up process was not easy for the Rasa’s, “but the learning, stress, frustrations, and sleepless nights that came with the process, was all expected.”  Staying positive and pushing through the hurdles sent them moving forward.  With their owner’s investment the Rasa’s funded their startup expenses to start SUP SPN.
Now, the biggest challenge was figuring out how they would get the equipment needed from abroad with the SUP board distributors.   They found the difficulty of increasing a SUP boarding business venture, which will be a mobile operation. This would have been difficult to explain the procedures to attain a business license in the CNMI as it was the first of its kind here.  Despite the difficulties, the Rasa’s stated, "Everything had fallen into place.”
Ponce and Merissa found that their biggest accomplishment was when they “purchased our SUP equipment from a surf company in San Diego and the invoice said ‘paid in full’.”

From left: Justice "Cuki" Alvarez, Mariana Palacios, Shane Alvarez, Alverick Alvarez, Frank "The Crank" Camacho, Peachy Rasa, and Mark "The Dark" Nique pose with the SUP SPN equipment.

SUP SPN sees its short term goal for the first year “to rent all SUP units eight hundred and forty times and recuperate investment cost.”  For their long term goal, SUP SPN projects “to increase SUP paddlers, to increase the number of SUP equipment on hand, to host annual Saipan SUP races/events, and to open a water sports shop for rental and retail in the Surf Rider Hotel.”
Lastly, the advice Ponce and Merissa Rasa gives to others regarding starting a business is “to visit the CNMI SBDC to make it happen by figuring out what you love doing and work towards having the best or being the best at whatever you choose to do.” SUP SPN’s mobile operation is open on weekends and legal holidays from 9am-5pm, however they will accommodate other days and times for request made in advance. For inquiries contact SUP SPN at (670) 285-8110 or via email at
To learn more about the CNMI SBDC’s programs and services, call (670)664-3018 or visit our website at