Inboard Technology entered the Shark Tank in Season 8 with its electric skateboard with motors in its wheels.
We interviewed their CEO and co-founder Ryan Evans, CFO Chris Haley and Dave Evans, Vice President of Marketing. They told us that after building the first prototype, they went through 40 iterations of that original design with a group of advisors, entrepreneurs, and in-house engineers from Santa Cruz, California, where they are based. “One of the best things about Santa Cruz is the incredibly supportive community that is based here. We have some of the best companies, nonprofits, and diverse job forces in the world,” Ryan said.
Here’s what else they told us about…
How the Idea Came About From a Stolen Bike
Ryan: My co-founder Theo and I met through our shared love of action sports-kiting, surfing and skateboarding. We both love the outdoors and technology! After Theo got his bike stolen from campus in Santa Monica, he built the first Inboard electric skateboard using drone motors and some off-the-shelf electronic components as a replacement for his stolen bike. When riding around on the board, he started getting offers from people around town to buy it. They loved the idea! This was about two and a half years ago, so there weren’t other electric skateboards on the market. After the thirtieth time we got stopped by someone to give us cash on the spot for the board, we knew we were onto something.
How it Works
Chris: The M1™ has a patent pending in-wheel electric motor system, the Manta Drive, the first of its kind in the world of skateboarding. The Manta Drive allows us to house the entire motor in the rear wheels of the M1. We also have integrated circuitry built into the deck. And the batteries have a flush compartment built into the board’s deck. This gives the M1 a sleek, stealthy appearance. Our swappable batteries also allow for infinite range. If you run low on power, just swap in a new battery in less than 15 seconds
Ryan: Safety is a high-priority for us. It’s not enough to have a slick and user-centric design. We did extensive component and system testing on the M1. We also leveraged the greater Silicon Valley startup community to help us bring in the best people so we could include safety as a core design element.
Where You Can Buy It
Dave: You can order the Inboard M1 from our website right now! We’re shipping worldwide. In Q1 of 2017 we’re focusing on rolling out inventory to our global distributors and North American retailers. Pretty soon you should be able to walk into some of the best stores in the world and pick up an M1 and ride it home.
Whether or Not They Were Nervous in the ‘Tank’
Ryan: Oh, hell yes! The Sharks are an impressive group of investors, and they have an incredible track record for picking great companies. We also knew they don’t pull any punches when you’re up there. So we focused on making sure we were as prepared as possible for the appearance. We watched more than 70 episodes of Shark Tank over several weeks. We kept notes while we watched the shows, re-watched episodes and talked about how to get out of certain situations. We never stopped analyzing episodes; we probably stayed up till about 3 am the night before practicing our pitch, doing mock Q&As with each other, going through a list of about 100 questions we had prepared. We did all of this while actively trying to close an angel investment round, and getting the M1 into production. And the entire time we couldn’t tell anyone!
How Their Company Would Not Exist Without Kickstarter
Dave: The team and community around Kickstarter is fantastic. Our company would literally not exist without Kickstarter. We had a small team of three people prior to Kickstarter. It was our success on Kickstarter that propelled us forward and gave us the visibility to hire the best team with real-world experience in hardware engineering. We know that many hardware startups have hit stumbling blocks post-Kickstarter, and we had our own as well. But, thanks to our team, and backer community support, we were able to overcome obstacles and ship a product that is actually better than our original design. Kickstarter was a critical inflection point in the history of Inboard – it’s when we went from a company operating out of a garage into a company that actually had an office with desks and chairs. It was the launching pad for us to be able to raise additional investment, since we had proven there was a market thanks to the overwhelming demand we generated from Kickstarter.