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RUFFBOARDS: Upcycled Longboards out of old Snowboards produced together with Ex-Prisoners.

Vienna, AustriaAustria
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
$250,000 - $500,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

RUFFBOARDS produces uniquely designed, high-end longboards by upcycling used snowboards. We maximizes social impact through a highly integrative production process by employing young former offenders and other marginalized groups in the manufacturing process.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if everybody gets an 2nd chance in society?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Young people, especially from disadvanted backgrounds, sometimes make mistakes. Society is generally not very forgiving of such mistakes, and the consequences for the individual, can be long-lasting. In that context, the issue of re-offending has become one of the pressing challenges society is facing today. F. e. 37,9% of offenders released in Austria re-offend within the first year and for those at age 14-17, this number increases to 65,4%.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Ruffboards is a modern, conscious company whose goal it is to help young offenders reintegrate into society through an innovative approach combining work integration, on-the job training, and mentoring with the appeal of a modern, eco-conscious consumer product with mass-market appeal. We assist young people on the path to employment by offering on-the-job-training and jobs together with Verein Neustart, an experienced non-profit organization in Austria and Germany ( Verein Neustart, an organization with over 50 years of experience, offers an established system for re-introducing young offenders to the job market.


Vienna Start-Up Award 2015, Winner Join the Core, B&J 2014, Finanlist: European Social Innovation Competition, EIB Tournament 2015
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Interview with Thomas S. - employee at Verein Neustart since 2013: Five years ago, at the age of twenty, I made a series of stupid decisions that culminated in my participation in breaking into a house. Convicted, I was sent to prison where I served four and a half years. I have tried to make amends for my actions and part of my release conditions was to apologize to the victims.I've done my time, but it lingers with me. As I started to search for a job, I found out that there is no chance for ex-offenders to get one. I worked hard to not become a victim of my own environment - that prevented me from gaining a meaningful employment.I became frustrated by companies unwilling to give me a chance, till I found employment at Verein Neustart.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Research shows us, that former offenders who have an employment are between 30% and 50% less likely to re-offend (Kevin Maton, Good Practice Guide, 2012). And if there is in-work support jobs and encouragement as in the case of Verein Neustart together with RUFFBOARDS, these figures can be improved further. Therefor we developed a manufacturing process which can easily be learned by people who are not trained in woodwork. Jobs/Trainings 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018+ Workplaces in workshop (at given time) 6 10 15 20 50 Training provided (cumulative 5 15 30 50 100 Post training job placements made 4 8 13 18 45 Long term employment, private sector cumulative 3 (75%) 3 6 (75%) 9 10 (75%) 19 14 (75%) 33 38 (75%) 75 For more significant international up-scaling, the design and manufacturing process and the required training is being codified to be easily replicated.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

At full scale, RB has the potential to create hundreds of highly attractive, highly visible jobs for a range of marginalized target groups across the EU. The concept canbe easily adapted to include other target groups as well as regions/countries. As a medium-term vision, the team has the ambition to establish operations (sourcing and manufacturing) in several major European urban centers. At present, exploratory discussions with potential partners in Western, Central and Eastern Europe are being initiated through the Impact HUB

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

In 2015, based on the number of our already sold boards, we will sell 300+ boards, in 2016 more than 680 and 2017 more than 1.800. Hence we'll reach a sale of more than 2.400 per annum by the end of 2018, which makes us a EUR600k/year company. For 2015 our goal is to work with experienced companies scaling and replicating our concept through the EU wide Impact HUB network. In 2016 we expect to be able to export or share our knowledge.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Leveraging social and environmental consciousness in the design, production, distribution, and branding of consumer products is not new, but has – so far – not been applied in this fully integrated way to the boarding market. Longboarding is a fast-growing segment of the skateboard market and a highly appealing trend with mass-market appeal.

Founding Story

RUFFBOARDS is about two things: First, the concept is about longboards for surfing the streets or covering the urban need of an alternative and trendy transportation gadget. Secondly it's about former offenders. Former offenders who really want to get a job but don't get the chance to have one. Thirdly, it`s about our environment and eco-friendly sports goods. Hence, we put these three things together and work with former offenders here in the Vienna, mostly young people who have had very little opportunity, and we help them learn to make gorgeous sport goods, which you and I can use, safe in the knowledge that our beneficial had a very good start (back) into working life.


RUFFBOARDS has been initiated by Melanie Ruff and Simone Melda, both passionate boarders and start-up entrepreneurs focused on creating a unique brand combining social and environmental consciousness with modern urban lifestyle. In addition, the founding team is supported by experienced mentors (SAP, social impact GmbH), ambassadors (Nikolaus Hutter, Toniic), coaches (Social Impact Start, Impact HUB Vienna), and an ever growing group of customers and friends.
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