The Kickstarter project Mellow Boards from Germany under the leadership of CEO Johannes Schewe is now shipping in large volumes to Europe, the US and later other regions.
Time for an interview with Johannes to learn more about this success story.
Johannes, which sports did you do as a teenager?
I tried skateboarding first time with 6 years and this was from the beginning an important experience for me.
I was a fan since than and later on I also started snowboarding.
When I was 18 years old I invented the Ride Inside Summer Camp which became the largest Indoor Snowcamp in Europe.
When I had a chance to travel 12 months through Australia I fell into love with surfing as well.
When did you think first time about a motorised skateboard? Was an electric skateboard your first choice?
I had the idea when I read an article about a petrol powered skateboard a few years ago.
2010 I had the first opportunity to ride an electric skateboard. I had huge expectations, but was kind of disappointed and thought it could be done better.
How did your first prototype look like?
The first real prototype was built together with Kilian who I met in Marocco at a surf vacation. Kilian was engineer at BMW for electric cars and had the right background for such a project.
The prototype was built out of any parts we could get and the remote was huge (from a remote control car). Therefore it was not such a smooth riding but the beginning of the platform we have developed over the years.
Was your initial intend to build a business or was it just a hobby?
At the beginning the project was based on ambition and passion.
I had the dream of an endless ride on the road which should feel smooth like snowboarding or surfing and not rough like go-carting.
But I saw the potential of a business from the first day.
When did you make the decision to build a business?
After the first prototype was done and we were convinced by the idea we could get some financial support from family and friends. So in January 2015 we founded Mellow Boards and the developed the Mellow Drive.
Which were the biggest challenges?
The first biggest hurdle was the financing of the project.
Hardware start-ups have to deal with a very high development und production expense. Many investors don't like that.
Our Kickstarter project helped to get the first financing done.
But it really started after we partnered with TQ Systems a leading german electronics provider for engines. Since December 2015 TQ Systems is our investor and also production partner.
The next big challenge was to find other suppliers which could serve our very high quality standards.
It took us 3 years for conception, prototyping and fine-tuning of the 300 parts which are included in our product.
The 3rd challenge which we just recently overcame is "time to market".
In our Kickstarter campaign we had forecasted realistic time frames, the reality however was different.
We wanted to build the perfect product and had to make hard decisions if we want to delay the launch for a new product design and advanced motor.
The delays caused some frustration with our customers, but it was worthwhile. We kept communication with the Mellow community and today everybody is happy about the product.
What was the biggest success so far?
The biggest success was that after a lot team work and hard learnings we finally have a high-end product "made in Germany".
We started in March 2017 to deliver on open orders of the electric skateboard kits and since April 2018 we now have stock to deliver within a few days.
That's a success. Only 2 out of 10,000 hardware start-ups can get to such level.
We took a lot of time for product development and fine-tuning, but this is now paying off with a high quality product which is robust and offers a really smooth ride.
How often are you riding your own boards?
As much as I can. On the way to the office and back to home as well as in vacations or on the Mellow Tour in Germany, Europe and worldwide.
What are your plans for Mellow Boards in the future
We have a lot of ideas for improvements and complete new products.
For now we are still focussing to keep the Mellow Drive a state of the art product and to motivate our community to share the experience of the endless ride.
Anything else you would like to share with your fans, Johannes?
Believe in yourself and in your ideas even if others give negative feedback!
Keep Riding. Stay Mellow.
Thank you, Johannes Schewe!
More info about Mellow Boards on their website.