I’ve honestly loved reading everyone’s sponsorship/sponsorless stories so far. It’s truly inspiring to see how far each person has come, even if it doesn’t lead to sponsorship.
I’ll share my own story.
I started fingerboarding around 2000 on a plastic board, and got other Tech Deck stuff afterwards. At first, I was just doing shove its, pressure flips and ridiculous impossible scoops into the air and trying to land it. Soon, I found the Tech Deck site, with its videos, forums and links to great DIY sites like Moshmelloz. I picked up most regular flip tricks easily and was able to do combos.
In the early FFI days, this forum was like a prestigious place that you could not just join. You needed to sign up during the limited open registration periods, or have an invite from an admin. Everyone on the Tech Deck forum posted about how they wish they were on FFI. It seemed like a place for all the serious and pro fingerboarders, but completely closed to everyone else (I was pretty glad when it became open). With just the TD forum and YT, it was harder to engage with the main community, and pretty much impossible to become sponsored.
Despite feeling like I had some skill and a burning passion for fingerboarding, I couldn’t get into FFI for a long time. I even tried emailing the admin a couple of times. Regardless, I still loved fingerboarding. I picked up a Berlinwood deck, Riptape, Riptape bushings, Substance wheels and Arctic axles, and I was loving it - but felt mostly alone.
By the FFI did open again, I joined. By this time, I had gone away to university and did not have my home computer to process any video, so there was no way to share anything, apart from a few text posts. But I still felt like an outsider. My account was deleted (possibly because of inactivity), and then I joined again, but still wasn’t able to engage here. I suppose I had already realised I loved fingerboarding and sponsorship didn’t matter. I just wanted to make some friends who liked it too.
A few years later in 2011, this all changed. I found a post about a UK fingerboard event happening in 2 weeks from when I found the post. I was also directed to another fingerboard forum, with slightly more UK fingerboarders. I still knew noone at all from fingerboarding but decided to go there anyway. I took along my (now considered old) Berlinwood setup. It was about a 1 hour drive from my hometown. I was nervous so I didn’t sleep much, turned up late, had no idea where the entrance was and came in through the back. But this was the greatest thing I experienced in fingerboarding. I was already an adult and I met many more older shredders like myself. I’m not great at making new friends but many of them were very approachable and I was even invited to hang out with them after the event. I didn’t compete in any competitions because I thought there would be no way I could compete against pros, but after watching them I realised I was probably at the same level. I won a deck in the raffle - my first new fingerboard product in years so I was super stoked.
After this whole thing, I kept in touch with everyone on the forum, was super hyped and started posting videos of my stuff. Maybe word got around and I was emailed by Close Up to join their team. It probably also helped that I even had their old discontinued Generation 1 and 2 boards. I have no idea exactly how it happened, but it finally did. They were super generous and sent me so much stuff. I never sold any of my sponsor stuff but I gave many complete setups away to new fingerboarders so that they could have the same excitement I did when I got my first decent board.
I am currently sponsorless. Close Up disbanded their team before I became less active again for an unrelated reason. I also represented Ace Fingerboard tape before the owner became unable to commit the time to running it.
Right now, I think @Scartledge is totally right. People definitely need to be active to get a breakthrough. I can’t commit the time to high level of activity any more so I understand I should not be on any team.
Other great points have been made on here too. You can positively contribute to the community like @cdplaya0 said. I used to make a lot of posts on another fingerboard forum, but also many on here. They included general chat, news and information, constructive criticism, advice and reviews. I was a moderator on that other forum, and also an admin on a short-lived fingerboard site that @cdplaya0 also made.
(Holy crap, I just realised your username is a pun based on your initials CD. How did I not realise this for years?)
Sure, fingerboard sponsorship was a great ride. I suppose it also fulfilled one of the few childhood dreams I had. But, I have also had great feelings of fulfillment from other instances:
When I took part in the 2013 FFI Rail Jam, and took 2nd place, I finally… FINALLY… felt like I belonged in FFI. I lurked in the background unable to take part in all the previous ones. You guys have no idea how long I wanted to feel accepted here, lol.
The other great personal feeling was posting what I thought was a silly video, called “Unrealistic Fingerboarding”, and holy crap. There were positive comments from people I have looked up to all these years.
I feel like sponsorship isn’t everything. How long before someone sponsored me? 11 years lol - and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t that bad after a year. I accepted being able to love fingerboarding without sponsorship, and then it came to me unexpectedly.