Inboard Technology Before Shark Tank
Stepping – or riding, rather – into the Shark Tank are a few entrepreneurs who promise to offer a new form of transportation. In zoom several people on skateboards that are equipped with lighting. The three of them are Ryan Evans, Dave Evans, and Chris Haley, all from Santa Cruz, California. Their company is Inboard Technology, and they have come to the Shark Tank to find an investment of $750,000 in exchange for 4% of their company – an $18.750 million dollar evaluation.
Getting around urban areas kind of sucks – it’s jam-packed in crowded public transportation, grid-locked when in your car, and just when you think you’ve beaten the system by riding a bike to work, you show up looking like a hot, sweaty mess. Their solution comes in the form of an M1 skateboard. The M1 is equipped to go up to 20 miles an hour and has a range of 7 to 10 miles. They’ve integrated headlights and taillights, so you’re safe to ride at night. Their in-wheel motor technology has no moving belts, gears, and requires no maintenance. All this while looking and feeling like a real skateboard. At 14 pounds, you can easily carry the M1 into a crowded elevator. They can all agree that with this, parking will not be a problem.
Inboard Technology is on the verge of changing public transportation. Riding the M1 is a fun, easy, and exciting experience. All for less than the cost of car insurance! So which one of the Sharks wants to get on-board with Inboard Technology, and ride the M1? Thrillingly, Kevin volunteers, as does Robert.
Inboard Technology on Shark Tank
Kevin and Robert step up, and of course, Kevin suits up with pads and a helmet. Ryan explains that the board is super easy to use; there are four contact points with the ground, so it’s really stable. Robert then jokes if it will support Kevin’s weight, but Chris explains that they have tested the M1 for up to 1,200 pounds. It’s very, very strong. There is a remote controller, which works as a safety – you hold forward to go forward, and back to go backward. So Kevin cannot move it unless he’s using the controller. Robert jokes that Chris may want to hold Kevin’s hand in the beginning.
Kevin starts riding away, much to everyone’s surprise. He takes off going faster and zooms out of the Shark Tank. He returns, impressed and says that the device is very cool. Everyone jokes that Kevin looks hardcore, but he says that it’s because he’s very hip – he’s a skater dude. Robert, however, says that he is sure that there are other electric skateboards out there. However, what makes Inboard Technology unique is that they have the first-ever in-wheel motor, which is one of the smallest hub motors ever. They’ve also integrated the battery into the deck for a sleek profile, but the biggest difference between Inboard and their competitors is the way they’ve designed their company.
From the inception of Inboard Technology, they’ve been based around scaling and high-volume manufacturing. Mark asks about the capital they’ve raised, which is around $2.7 million. Kevin asks about the value of the company after their last round of fundraising. Chris then says that they had a $10 million dollar evaluation after their last round of fundraising. Lori clarifies that the device can go uphill, but asks what happens when you go downhill. The device brakes itself, and the motion of the spinning wheels actually helps to charge the battery. The greatest thing about the in-wheel motor technology is that it has an internal motor – all their competitors have an external motor, which ultimately is fed with a gear and a belt.
However, Robert insists that it is a toy – it’s a skateboard, ultimately. The three from Inboard Technology completely disagree, saying that it’s more like a vehicle. Mark says this is a niche market, and Robert agrees that nobody will commute to work with a skateboard that isn’t commuting to work already on a skateboard already. Special guest Shark Chris Sacca disagrees, saying that the market is already scaling. Maybe not in Toronto, since you have to dig snow out half the year, but in California, it’s happening. He sees the skateboard as a vehicle and a tool. Mark disagrees and says that Chris is wrong. Just because you see individuals driving around on skateboards doesn’t mean it’s scaling.
In fact, one of Mark’s companies is working on developing a self-balancing hoverboard. There are challenges there – laws in terms of riding on sidewalks, inclines, bumps in the road. Mark is right, but Chris Haley says that they currently have a pending intellectual property patent that has some new designs that would blow them away. Lori asks about the cost, and each board retails for $1,399. The cost to produce one is about 35%, leaving them with a 65% margin – this means each board costs around $490 to produce. Kevin asks how many people can afford $1,400. Mark then points out that self-balancing boards were $1,500 when they came out, but they sold hundreds of thousands.
Chris Sacca also points out that Mark contradicted himself after telling Chris knew nothing about the potential to scale. However, Mark defends himself by explaining that the skateboard market is different than a hoverboard since one is a lot easier to balance on, as well as go forward and backward. Chris then says that Mark doesn’t spend a lot of time on YouTube to watch the “Hoverboard Fails” videos, but Mark again insists that Chris is wrong. He’s seen all the YouTube videos and read the patents, so he knows what’s going on. There are two different markets, one to get around the neighborhood and one to move long distances. He doesn’t think that the market is big enough right now for people to move to the skateboard.
However, Dave says that when he lived in Manhattan, he basically had to plan his life around traffic. The M1 is very easy to pick up and take in a subway, unlike a bike. If it starts to rain, he can call an Uber and put it in a trunk. Lori then asks about how many they have sold. Dave explains that they have 9 global distributors, and have done $5.6 million in preorders through those distributors. These will be fulfilled by the end of the year. Kevin then admits he is interested and is thinking about structuring an offer.
They ultimately need capital, so Kevin will drop his equity ask for 2.5% and loan them the $750,000 due monthly over a 36 month period with 8% interest. Dave then asks to explain the difference in evaluation from now and then; since the last round, they have de-risked the company considerably. They secured the largest contract manufacturer in the United States, raised enough money to get to the point where they can be positive in terms of cash flow and are in talks with Best Buy to roll packages out to the store.
Robert says that he loves toys, but for their value – which he won’t even touch – he has to buy into the premise that this is a mass transportation product. In regards to what Chris Sacca thinks (the wannabe millennial), there’s an element of skill that you have to have in order to use the M1 than the average, “older” person won’t have. Kevin then points out that he was able to master the device in a few minutes, but Robert is out of the deal.
Chris Sacca says that the segment is very crowded and competitive, but he’s trying to invest in smaller spaces that haven’t had a lot of eyes on it yet. While he might be a consumer, he’s the second Shark out of the deal. Mark then agrees with Chris, as there are a lot of people focusing on the market. It’s a stretch, partially because one of his companies competes with Inboard Technology, so Mark is the third Shark out of the deal.
Robert points out that Lori was trying to perform some math to see what Kevin’s potential offer was. She likes the idea and thinks it’s very cool, and she loves the ingenuity. But it’s great to have distributors – people in that business always think things are cool. They’re always waiting for the next new thing. No matter how many devices they buy, there’s no promise that they’ll come and buy more product. Kevin says that if Lori leaves the deal, he intends to raise his percentage of obtained equity since it’s the nature of a Shark when there are no competitors.
Lori offers $750,000 in the form of a loan at 8% interest over 36 months, matching Kevin’s deal, but for 3% equity. The team from Inboard Technology asks to discuss amongst themselves. Lori and Kevin have also discussed amongst themselves, and they extend a joint offer. Their offer is $750,000 over 36 months at 8%, but they want 5% equity of the company at 2.5% each. However, the team behind Inboard Technologies counters an offer with $750,000 (as a loan) for a 3% stake. In the end, Inboard Technologies agrees to a $750,000 loan at 9% interest, over 36 months, for 4% equity.
Inboard Technology After Shark Tank – 2018 Update
Inboard M1 Electric Skateboards are now available at select Best Buys near you! In fact, the skateboards are heavily discounted down from the standard $1,399 to $999 for Black Friday and Cyber Monday of 2017. Each M1 comes with a 1-year warranty. You can also order an M1 electric skateboard from the Inboard Technology website, which offers special financing for up to 18 months. Your purchase includes the M1 Electric Skateboard, the RFLX (pronounced ‘reflex’) remote that is charged by USB, a PowerShift battery and charger (which charges in 90 minutes), a soft carrying bag, and an Inboard skate tool. The skate tool allows for you to make micro adjustments to the angle of the wheel and customize your personal ride.
It’s not surprising to learn that several bicycle enthusiast shops have also begun carrying the M1, as well. It’s hard to see exactly where Lori and Kevin play into all of this, as the team had said they were in talks with getting into Best Buy, but they have no doubt contributed to the M1’s success. As time goes on, make sure to keep checking in with the Inboard Technologies website; while the M1 is available all over the world, it seems to be most concentrated around the California region of the United States.