Gator Alumnus Funds Startup Electric Longboard Company
When Aaron King longboards through Gainesville, many people don’t realize he’s riding an electric board. He stops his board in a split second, then cruises away with the touch of a button. King, 28, is the founder of RedRock Board Shop, a Gainesville company that produces customizable electric longboards. The shop offers various boards, wheels, colors, batteries and a USB plug that lets riders program acceleration, brake intensity and longboard speed with their computers. The motorized truck — a metal piece that connects wheels to the deck — costs $300. The electronics and truck can be purchased and attached to an existing board for $950. An all inclusive package — board and electronics — costs $1,188.
King, who graduated from UF in 2007 with an engineering degree, began longboarding in 2002 to get around campus. He started buying equipment and making electric boards as a side job five years ago when he found electric longboards weren’t as high-quality as he expected.
“I know what the longboard feel is supposed to feel like,” King said. “I wanted to get that electric feel.”
King began RedRock Board Shop in May after his longboards started getting attention among his friends. He quit his job at LoadTest Inc. and began making boards full time out of his garage in downtown Gainesville.
But now, the startup costs keep King and his shop from full production. King took to the Web and established a Kickstarter page for his company to raise money for production runs and legal fees due to liability costs.
His goal is to raise $99,999 by Oct. 28. As of Tuesday, the drive has raised $4,480.
“We need to get our a– kicked a little bit,” King said. “Once it’s in gear, it’ll pretty much pay for itself.”
King said there are a handful of other competitors that produce electric skateboards, but most of the longboards he’s seen are poor quality and overpriced. King said longboard enthusiasts ranging from 9 to 60 years old have used his boards, and high school and college students use them to get around campus. His interest in his electric longboards has gone coast to coast since he went to California in August for a trade show. He is talking to distributors and, ultimately, wants his product to be available in skate shops.
“There’s a new breed of electric boards that aren’t toys and aren’t junk,” King said.
Most of the parts are made in Connecticut, with the exception of the motor, which is made in China. Depending on the order, assembly takes five minutes to an hour. So far, King has made 15 electric longboards and has sold about 10. Peter Harter, manager of Free Ride Surf & Skate Shop, said the store doesn’t plan to carry electric longboards because of the high price and because it’s a new market. Nonetheless, Harter said a custom electric skateboard is an excellent idea because the board has a braking system, which would mean they’d be allowed in bike lanes rather than only on sidewalks.
“It’s a form of exercise [rather] than a form of entertainment,” Harter said.
Gator Longboarding president Jeffrey Dickens, 19, said he wouldn’t use an electric skateboard as his primary source of transportation, but he’d try it out as a toy.
“They’re a lot of fun to mess around on,” the mechanical engineering sophomore said.
He said the ability to customize your own longboard is a good step, but because of the price, only serious longboarders would invest in an electric board.
“If it’s your hobby,” Dickens said, “people will spend.”
King plans to produce about 100 boards a month once his business gets rolling.
“We just need the beginning inventory, and we’re good to go.”