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Twenty In Their 20s: ZACH WEISBERG ROSS PFAHLER

Zach Weisberg wanted to combine his passions. He loves surfing and writing. That led him to create Inertia, an online community platform featuring news, opinions, photography, videos and art from the surfing community.

He came to the project after working as a digital content editor for Surfer Magazine for three years.

“I recognized a void in publishing in the world of action sports,” he said. “Nearly all publications were print first and the Web represented undervalued elements of their business. This was an opportunity to create something meaningful in surfing.”

Since launching the site in 2010, he has published contributions from little-known surfers who wanted to participate in the project. It has also featured writing by high-profile figures from the world of surfing, such as Jim Moriarty, chief executive of the Surfrider Foundation, and champion wave-rider Kelly Slater.

Weisberg drafted his friend Ross Pfahler to help him get the site going. Pfahler came to the venture from the world of information technology.

They started with only personal savings.

“Online publishing isn’t a very capital-intensive business if you think strategically about how to go to market, so it didn’t require an exorbitant amount of money,” Weisberg said. “And, luckily, we had a cadre of very talented people supporting me who were willing to help with design and development and asked for very little in return.”

Their goal is to promote their values, addressing serious issues such as discrimination in sports. Pfahler said the pair faces the same difficulties as any other modern media Internet publishing enterprise.

“The biggest challenge is to figure out how quality journalism can succeed on the Web,” Pfahler said.

They now have a monthly readership of 30, 000 and publish 12 daily articles.

Their youth might have presented some hurdles if they had started some other kind of company, but publishing an online surfing magazine isn’t for older people anyway.

“We’re working in a young industry,” Weisberg said. “I’d imagine median ages of management are decreasing across the board – especially in the tech space.”

He’d consider starting another company, but only after he’s built Inertia into what he wants it to be.

“We’ve still got a ton of work to do with Inertia before I could seriously entertain the notion of building something else, though,” he said. “This company is a huge part of me. I want to eventually transform it into a hub for all action sports.”

As for relaxing, Pfahler thrives on challenges and said too much work is not enough. When pressed, however, he said he enjoys quiet time by turning off his Mac.

When he’s not working, Weisberg plays in a punk rock band. But he said the best way to relax between meetings and brainstorming is to surf.

“When the waves are good, and I’m in good company, nothing beats it,” he said.

– Anna Nikonova

ZACH WEISBERG, 29

ROSS PFAHLER, 27

Inertia, a Web-based surfing network featuring articles, news, photo and videos, Venice

Employees: 4

Financials: Profitable.

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