kickstarter

HAVE WE REACHED PEAK KICKSTARTER?

A note to the butthurt – the opinions in this article are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of my corporate overlords at SkateSlate. – Dubler

If you really need money to start a skateboard company, you should probably just sell drugs like pretty much every other successful skate businessman did*. Asking strangers for money via kickstarter is an admission that (a) you are not down to flip bricks at the trap-house, and (b) you don’t have enough faith in your idea to invest your own cash (c) you were dumb enough to invest your own cash even when the bank said no and now you gotta drop it hot, or face the flop and move back in with mom.

We’ve seen a number of questionable, and some just awful, longboard and skateboard related kickstarters in the past few years. There’s the Rockochet rock deflector, clearly invented by someone who hit a twig and ate shit hard enough to be extremely bummed, but quite not hard enough to quit skating. The MorfBoard “action sports fitness trainer” is a device invented by a former professional inline skater that transforms from a shitty longboard into a balance board, a bouncing platform ball, and a resistance band trainer. (Their website has some truly excellent CrossFit™ inspired fashion and this excellent gif.) HalfTones wheels promise to deliver those marbled thane lines that some people apparently wanted and help you learn the hard way that wheel pigments have major performance side-effects (to anyone who bought a pack of 4 different colored Venom Sidewinders back in 2011: we’re sorry). And we all know about Shark Wheels, who successfully raised $80,000 to make wheels that certainly look crazy but didn’t deliver on their performance claims. Someone ask Troy Yardwaste how that worked out.

And it’s not just kooks using kickstarter: Resource Distribution crowdfunded twenty thousand dollars to fund their Foreign Exchange promotional trip to Europe in 2013. Last I heard, they finally shipped the promised rewards to backers in late 2015.

Lest we forget, Kickstarter isn’t always bad: Boosted Boards are legitimately awesome, DGM is doing something really interesting and important, and… shit, that’s all I’ve got. It’s mostly bad.

Last week I saw a skate-related Kickstarter campaign that was so brazenly ridiculous in both its purpose and its fundraising goal that initially I thought the person running it had only put it up because he had to for a school project. And while he did develop the concept in a high school engineering class, I was wrong. The guy behind the SydeWynder wheel is totally serious.

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Tired of wearing out wheels and having to buy new ones, Jonah Staab of Kearney, Nebraska decided to invent a new kind of longboard wheel that would save urethane. After some prototyping and testing, he made a 65mm omni wheel that accepts 608 bearings and apparently functions decently.

Flush with stoke and positive reactions from a few skate shops, dude put together a kickstarter campaign to attempt to raise five hundred thousand dollars. He only had $497,000 left to go when the campaign ended on April 20th.

I had to know more about this project, so I got in touch with Jonah to find out what the deal is. At first glance, this idea is completely ridiculous: how are you going to ride a skateboard with no traction at all? Staab solved that design problem by putting metal hubs inside the rollers, which are tightly fitted around pins to provide stability when cruising and resistance when sliding so your skateboard doesn’t ride like it’s on caster wheels.

What about downhill riding? They haven’t been tested at high speeds yet, though there are plans for a downhill-specific wheel in the future. And won’t they explode if you do a boneless or something? Impact resistance hasn’t been a problem yet, as Staab has ridden his prototype wheels off a few pretty big ledges.

Sadly, Sydewynder wheels did not successfully raise the half a million dollars they needed to go into production and we will never have the pleasure of watching someone attempt to ride them down Burke mountain. Indeed, now that longboarding is less of a fat cash cow and Kickstarter has had a few well-publicized failures, I expect to see fewer completely insane longboard-related kickstarter campaigns, but that won’t stop me from enjoying a few laughs at the more egregiously silly ones that still get posted.

*As far as I know, Venom was not started with drug money.

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  1. Cory Wilkerson

    I'd love to hate on the fact that you didn't even mention Wheel Shields but tagged them anyway. Regardless, this is how any industry works. You throw things at the wall to see what people want and then move from there. And Kickstarter actually lets backers purchase the merch/rewards and everyone is well aware of what they're receiving. Let the skaters skate what they want and stop bitching about all these "kooky" products. Because some people actually have / had a passion for these ideas. Let me know when you have a successful Kickstarter for an innovative product. Less bitchin', more stoke!

  2. CC Travis

    I agree with Cory. Stop hating on people trying to live their dreams Max. Worry about yourself and not what buisness goals others are trying to persure. Bank loans are near impossible to come by for these types of projects and your suggestion to sell drugs to fund is ignorant beyond belief. Attitudes like the one you expressed in this article are harmful not helpful to longboarding and for someone with such a long respected history as being an ambassador to this sport maybe think before you write next time. This is how innovation works Max not every product invented is perfect or works right away if ever but people keep trying and that is what pushes innovation in all areas. Your article makes you look so stupid it is unbelivable you would tarnish your name and the brand of SkateSlate with such a garbage article.

  3. Les Robertson

    Freedom in the digital age is a wonderful thing. Inventors get to make and sell their designs at low cost with high reach and media gets to praise or critique them. The vetting process on both sides is rather weak. In the end, the consumer decides, so instead of being butt hurt with Max and the article, just go support the projects and skate the product they create proudly. In the end, no news is bad news, so maybe some other reader get stoked or at at least go throw a sympathy dollar at these projects. A few sharp words wont be (shouldnt be) what kills their dreams. If they are any inventor or entreprenuer, their skin better be thick because failure and rejection is pretty much the name of the game in invention, innovation, sales and business.

  4. CC Travis

    Still pretty lame clickbate. Making sure the phrase "If you really need money to start a skateboard company, you should probably just sell drugs" shows up in the preview of the link was not an accident I am sure. If that is what you need to do to get views then thats your progative but I am sure their are many kids reading this and to see a person that some of them might look up to starting off the article with this phrase in my opinion is a bad example to set even if you get a few days of increased clicks. It's your brand and your karma not mine but I am pretty sure the parents of your younger readers would agree with me. On top of that those same younger readers who are influenced by what they think will make them "cool" in the longbaord scene might be turned off from trying to invent or innovate becaue they don't want the elders in the sport to make fun of them. You have the freedom to post what you want BUT what good (other then more clicks for you) does this article really do for anyone? Just my thoughts.

  5. Les Robertson

    Well, lame is your opinion. And you're entitled, the same as Max, to an opinion. No one "made sure the phrase" was anywhere for click bait. Actually. And considering we typically have no click bait and dont pay for promotion, this would be out of charachter, while Max lambasting anything and everything is very much in charachter. I'm also not sure his post is 100% 'mean spirited', he is questioning gimmicks and how they get funded.

    Youre taking a pretty harsh and closed minded stance yourself. You assume a lot of things, including that skateboarding is for children and that we should foster their entry into the sport by softening the blows of life, or that skateboarding is for inventors to create and extract profits from skaters without taking some lumps along the way as well. Skateboarding, youth, invention.. all require learning, falling, getting up and a modest does of criminality and hate from law enforcement and governement. If Johnny Square wants to get on skateboard with shark wheels and wheel shields, let him. We didn't say don't, we asked, have we reached peak kickstarter? Whether the product performs or makes Johnny a better skater or a happy skater has nothing to do with us really.

    Some parents might agree with you. Others might not and are just trying to make it themselves and want to do so by any means necessary, including the sale of illicit substances or sex or even just bad mortgages for high profit to reach their dreams… like musicians, movie producers, and the government of the United States of America. Lets be honest, the sale of drugs is about American as Apple Pie and Mickey Mouse, it is what the great nation thrives on between the police war, the new legalization movements and the pharmacutical companies.. well that and selling bad credit vehicles at high rates and risk to poor people.

    What good does this article do? It raises awareness first of. Most of these companies have never been mentioned on skate slate before. Some have contacted us. Some havent. None have seriously tried to gain exposure with us. So in reality, while you see this as "bad press", it's actually just "press" and those that agree with you will be polarized to support the inventors and their inventions and those that do not agree with you will just go skate.

    Finally, I want to make it clear that as editor, I welcome and encourge questionable content. There are way too many sheep out there these days on both sides of the fence. While inventors, looking to iterate on what we do ask like questions 'can we do better?', Max asks, as more of a purist, asks 'what is your motivation and how will it benefit skateboarding?' Both are valuable questions. If the kickstarter camp wants to be taken more seriously, then they should skate more, send proper press releases, send samples, gain feedback of notable riders and finally support the ecosystem they are trying to extract value from, which is not something we have experienced so far.

    I'll leave you with something fun to watch and consider, from an even stronger, older and more opinionated talking head than Max, Grosso: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRTe9fyYRIk

  6. Connor Welles

    "I am pretty sure the parents of your younger readers would agree with me."

    If I had a dollar for every time somebody has said this since the invention of skateboard media, I wouldn't have to sell drugs to start a skateboard company…

  7. Nate Blackburn

    So you are telling Max to not live his dream so other people may live theirs? Sounds a little hypocritical to me. Bank Loans are near impossible to come by for these projects, and that is a good thing. Start up businesses do not get bank loans because 50% of small businesses fail, so why should a bank fund it, let alone the broke skater in the scene.

    "Worry about yourself and not what business goals others are trying to pursue", once again, you could take your own advice on this.

    Do you know any longboard companies? Do you know how many of them have been started with drug money. I think Max gives a great insight into how REAL skateboard companies are started, with personal investment, not crowd funded money. You are zoning in on the fact he said sell drugs, not the fact that he said work hard, establish a customer network, save your money, and then invest it into something you believe in, instead of starting a business and asking for everyone else to pay for it. He is encouraging people to work hard to fund their dreams, and he gave an example of how to do it, yes it may be illegal, but so is skating in the street, two wrongs don't make a right, but three lefts do.

    I think you should go and skate, if you like shark wheels, and wheel shields ride them, no one actually cares, and if they make you happy all the better. Max Just simply posed a question which was have we reached the level where KICKSTARTER is no longer a reasonable method of gaining money because other companies have brought bad ideas to market so frequently, that companies with good ideas are not capable of gaining any credibility through this website.

    #loveyoumeanit

  8. CC Travis

    Les Robertson as an editor you should have read my messages more closely. "You assume a lot of things, including that skateboarding is for children and that we should foster their entry into the sport by softening the blows of life" I do not assume skateboarding is for children I know and state in my response that SOME children will be reading this and DO skateboard as I did when I was a kid as well as when I was an adult. I am not assuming anything just stating a FACT that some children do skate and will read this article. I think softening blows VS stating to readers that they SHOULD start selling drugs to start a skate company are VERY different things. Your response was ignorant. I could go on with the rest of your reply but I can tell you did not read or pay attention to what I wrote so I will not take anymore time to respond to what you wrote other then to say I have loved reading skateslate for years including having an actual subscription to it before I moved BUT your response makes me wonder if I should continue when the editor can not read and comprehend my post without confusion.


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