I'm Jeff Anning, the founder of Evolve Skateboards, the industry leader in electric skateboards. Since 2008, we have been developing aesthetically refined, quality electric skateboards, pursuing the ultimate endless wave experience.
During this time, we have been building the best products we can, pushing innovation, and also build electric skating into a sport, not losing sight of just having fun and making a product we love.
What's your backstory and how did you get into entrepreneurship?
Evolve Skateboards started in 2008 when I came back from my first snowboard trip and saw a guy come past on an electric skateboard. The first thing that came to my mind was the snowboard trip, going down that mountain, endless wave. When I saw that skateboard, I thought instantly, "That's my answer." I would be able to achieve that endless snowboard feeling in front of my very own house.
Everybody can have an idea but the process of turning it into a top-shelf product where people around the globe can buy it and get support, if necessary, is the biggest challenge.
I ordered some items from eBay and started to develop my own electric skateboard. I just kept thinking, if the electrics on this board were pretty much on a professional longboard, it would be a completely different ride, and it would just be perfect. That was kind of the beginning of the whole thing.
After that, I made one for a friend, and then another friend wanted one, and another friend wanted one. I must have made about six or seven boards.
My wife, Fleur, and I sold our family home to manufacture the first batch of boards. It was our first ever house. It was a house that we got married in. So it was really special for us, but we both just knew it was the right decision. And we were in this crappy little rental property, and we were working out of the garage. This first batch sold out in under two weeks.
With the first 50 boards, we ended up having customers pretty much all over the world. We found people were jumping online, posting their pictures and videos, talking about it. It was almost like instantly, and we're an international business without trying to be a global business.
Entrepreneurship was never the ending goal, and Evolve Skateboards was never supposed to be this big. It was a pursuit of a passion, which is to create the endless wave, the perfect ride.
Take us through your entrepreneurial journey. How did you go from day 1 to today?
It did happen quickly and organically. Literally, after the first 50 boards went out there, it all happened within, I think, within 18 months. At this stage, we were doing the customer service, the R&D, the sales, meeting customers directly, the after-sale service. It was only just me and Fleur at the time.
We knew if we're going to do this properly, we had to invest in having the right people with us, building a team around us that could keep up with the growth. Since day one, we have been refining our processes, from manufacturing/sales/distribution, always thinking 'how can we do better'. In this journey, we have constantly been innovating and keeping up with the market, staying at the forefront. We have seen 12 years of very steady growth.
Today, Evolve has the biggest distribution network. It came about very organically with a guy from Germany first reaching out and just saying, "Hey, I want to sell your board." And then we had a couple on there, in France, in the USA, but now there are 14 distributors worldwide. There's Russia, Spain, everywhere, Japan, Korea, all over. Having this strong distribution network has accelerated the brand growth to be more accessible to more people.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
We are the industry leader, the biggest electric skateboard company there is. Since 2008, we've been watching the whole industry grow. We've seen people come in, people come out, and we've seen the cracks. We know how things work, and we definitely don't do things how other brands have done it. At Evolve, we like to make our own rules, but we're very smart in how we do our end.
Our product is widely accepted amongst many different peoples in different markets. The e-skate competitions have changed the industry's face, and we love seeing all riders' and brands' progression.
Besides that, the future looks bright as electric transportation becomes more and more mainstream. Despite the lack of exact laws allowing them in some regions, electric skateboards are exploding in popularity and can be found and used in most major cities worldwide. People are looking for commuting options where they can keep a social distance.
The future is looking promising. We're just going to keep modifying our product, getting our team, just dialed in, and just having fun. As it is such a niche industry, we're leading the way and making the rules. That really excites me.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
I would say the main thing is to see everything was a learning process. We came into this with next to no knowledge of international business, manufacturing processes, or eCommerce/social media. Everybody can have an idea but the process of turning it into a top-shelf product where people around the globe can buy it and get support, if necessary, is the biggest challenge.
Evolve's board is not only a top-shelf product but what made it a success was the way we ran our business. And a lot of people don't see that. Trying to marry up the manufacturing, the customer service with a rad product, they all need to work together as a team. We were never interested in the cheapest board or building the most over-engineered board. For us, since day 1, it's all about the way it rides, and that what makes us different from the other brands.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
At Evolve, we use Shopify as the main e-commerce platform for all of our websites. Social Media channels play an essential role in our business as e-skaters use them to connect with other riders, ask questions, and organize group riders, especially Facebook groups, and Youtube. People have made friends, and they connect online, it is easy to communicate. They just go, "Hey, I'm going for a ride this weekend at this location who wants to come." This sheer size and passion of the online community make Evolve unique in the world of e-skating. Every day, tens of thousands of riders online share their experiences, helping one another.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
I love hearing the stories of other people who have created something from nothing out of passion. We are always listening/reading to interviews, case studies of this type of entrepreneur. Also, the snow and skate scenes are big inspirations.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
Have confidence in yourself and your product, and surround yourself with the right people. Any business needs passionate people behind it. Be passionate!
Where can we go to learn more?
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