The story of Elos did not start with a business plan. It started as a quest to get around a college campus that involved as little money or physical effort as possible. They say laziness is the mother of all invention…well it spawned the Elos. Basically if you can ride…then why walk?
I, Tom, began my skateboard adventures by purchasing cheap or used skateboards. But those boards were stolen or broke so often I was losing time and money trying to secure the next good deal. So as a mechanical engineering student at UCSB around 2006, I began to tinker with my own board designs. I sourced every scrap I could get my hands on for cheap or trade. This ranges from everyday house-hold stuff to aero-space material that was supposed to be used on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
The more exotic the material the more complicated the board designs became. Many boards toyed with advanced ideas like transforming the deck shape mid-ride to improve performance or embedded electronic systems that monitor safety. Several early prototypes, including a carbon fiber variant, still sit in my office today.
Over time I became known as “that guy” with a new funky skateboard every month. Eventually, others began to ask if they could try my neoteric board and teach them how to ride. So my prototyping shifted from personal interest to making something anyone could learn in 30 minutes or less. With most skateboards on the market aimed at extreme sports or downhill runs, not much was out there for people to learn on or use for daily commutes.
After making boards for friends and family, I believed a real business could come out of this. I pursued a Master’s in business, specifically technology and innovation management, to round out my engineering degree and spent a year in Denmark studying design. After finishing studying I devoted a larger part of my time working on what would become Elos. I bootstrapped the early prototypes and with the help of my friends (including now wife Spring) I launched 20 early boards at the Maker Faire in the Bay area.
Around 80% of those boards sold during the fair but more shockingly, we were suddenly flooded by messages and emails asking about the board by the friends of people who purchased at the fair. So we took the next logical step… abandoned all hope of having a normal life and embarked on the first steps that would solidify Elos as a real company.
Coming soon: Part 2 — from maker to crowdfunder