All Failed Startup Stories
Inboard Technology

Inboard Technology

Software & Hardware

General Information

Industry Software & Hardware Country United States Started in 2014

Failure

Outcome Shut Down Cause Business deal gone wrong Closed in 2019

People

Founders 2 Employees 0-25

Funding

Funding Rounds 2 Funding Raised $12 Million Investors 4

What was the inboard skateboard?

The Inboard M1 electric skateboard was a battery-powered skateboard. It was the flagship product of Inboard Technology. Apart from electric skating, it was designed to encourage personalization, customization, and third party development.

Inboard Technology was founded by Ryan Evans and Theo Cerboneschi in 2014. After Evans graduated from college, he became a professional kiteboarder. Evans then went on to work at a kiteboard retail company.

Cerboneschi was also a professional kiteboarder from age 16 to 18. He met Evans during this stint as they both had a mutual sponsor. Through this, Evans and Cerbonechi became good friends and kept in touch even after Cerbonechi went to college.

Cerbonechi went to study mechanical engineering at the University of Colorado. During his time there, he built an electric skateboard to alleviate his commute across campus. People took notice of his prototype, and he decided to drop out of college to develop this product fully.

After this decision, Cerbonechi contacted Evans. Together they cofounded Inboard Technology with Evans serving as CEO and Cerbonechi serving as CTO. The company was headquartered in Santa Cruz, California.

In early 2015, Evan and Cerbonechi successfully raised around $400,000 USD in preorders from their Kickstarter campaign. By 2016, they had successfully sold around 24000 electric boards across the US, Europe, and Asia.

In that same year, as Inboard Technology grew in popularity, it hit the holy grail of opportunities: It was invited to submit an application for Shark Tank.

Inboard Skateboard in Shark Tank

After clearing the long selection process, Inboard Technology pitched its product on Shark Tank on the seventh episode of the show's eighth season. Evans, along with 2 of his partners, walked in seeking $750,000 USD for 4% of their business. [ $18.75 million valuation]

After negotiations, they walked out with $750,000 from a deal with Kevin O'Leary and Lori Greiner. However, that money was offered as a loan at a 10% interest for 3 years along with a 3% equity stake.

Inboard Skateboard after Shark Tank

The deal was made, and the possibilities for the Inboard SharkTank collaboration seemed endless! However, according to a few unconfirmed sources, Kevin and Lori’s deal fell through.

Despite this minor shortfall, it wasn't too big of an impediment for Inboard skateboards. After the Shark Tank episode aired in December 2016, Inboard skateboards became incredibly popular. At one point, there were around 5000 people on the website due to the show’s exposure.

Almost a year later, in November 2017, the company announced it had raised $8 million in a funding round. It was a Series A funding and was led by a Los Angeles-based venture capital firm, Upfront Ventures.

Around this time, the hype surrounding electric personal vehicles was starting to explode. Electric bikes and scooters were viewed as the future of urban transportation, and everyone wanted to get in on that action.

As the obvious next step, by September 2018, Inboard Technology announced the ‘Glider’ — the new e-scooter with swappable batteries. The scooters would be available to the masses within the next six months.

The company had big plans for this product and it was met with a lot of public excitement. Naturally, as a result, the preorders started coming in. Things were looking up for Inboard Technology. The team was optimistic, with a prescient atmosphere riding on the belief that they were on the cusp of something great.

However, in April 2019, in a surprise move, the company refunded all deposits that came through preorders. They announced that they would be switching from direct consumer sales to commercial sales.

In November 2019, Inboard Technology shut down operations.

Inboard Technology Shuts Down

To a lot of people, Inboard Technology showed a lot of promise. So the shutdown announcement was surprising and caught many off guard. All of Inboard Technology’s 24 employees were laid off. What went wrong?

There aren’t many details out there as to why Inboard shut down. But according to news reports, Inboard Technology shut down due to a massive purchase agreement gone awry.

Evans told The Verge that the company had acquired a large purchasing order from a very big European Scooter operator. However, “the developmental timeline outstretched its financial runway”. Many believe this deal could be related to the Series A funding made in the previous year, in 2018.

Evans had received “multiple assurances” of further capital infusions in the project if the company hit key milestone targets. But it appears that when the company struck its end of the bargain, its investors began backing out.

In November 2019, Inboard Technology’s investors signed an agreement and pushed for the firm’s liquidation. The company’s assets and intellectual properties were on the market for sale. Within the next few weeks, the company’s warehouses and phone lines were abandoned, and the website was taken down.

Just like that, on the pretense of a promise, a company risked it all and unfortunately, lost it all.

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