The Story of Enertion Boards — a Startup Implosion

If you follow the tech world or simply live in California, you may have had an encounter with a rather unique type of product: electric skateboards. You might have seen your favorite YouTuber riding around on one, or watched a millennial zoom past you at 25 miles-per-hour without their feet touching the ground. These skateboards were cool, unique, and very practical as they allowed you to quickly maneuver through streets. Furthermore, they were just extremely fun to use. Electric skateboards gained a lot of traction thanks to the market leader, Boosted Boards, who tapped into and successfully leveraged the influencer space to get their name and products out.

Boosted knew their products were fun and well-built, and they knew how to use social media. Their company sent some of their boards to popular YouTubers and other influencers for free in order to gain exposure. It was a win-win situation for the company and its influencer base. The influencers generated organic content by reviewing Boosted’s products, and Boosted received massive amounts of exposure due to how large these social media audiences were. Not only that, but Boosted’s products were fantastic. They were built well, reliable, stylish, and the company had a great customer service team.

Influencers naturally fell in love with Boosted’s skateboards and their audiences did as well. Casey Neistat, a very popular YouTube vlogger, actually used Boosted skateboards as his main way of commuting around New York City. The most expensive Boosted Boards were about $1500; despite the high price, many consumers raved about the boards’ build quality and experiences they offered and Boosted quickly became the Apple of electric skateboards.

Similar to Apple, Boosted was not the the original innovator of its product space. Electric skateboards had existed prior to Boosted coming onto the scene. Boosted just did everything right, and did so much better than its competitors. The main thing that helped them succeed was that their products were simply good in the sense that they did what consumers expected them to while being reliable. Other electric skateboard companies were plagued with extremely poor quality control issues, misleading advertising, inability to deliver their products on time, and so forth. Boosted had a great product — they knew that and took full advantage of it.

The company certainly had its fair share of competition. There were electric skateboards that offered much higher top-speeds than Boosted’s boards, longer battery life and range, better hill-climbing abilities, and several other things. Even the companies who offered all of those benefits at much lower prices were still often unable to compete with Boosted simply due to the amount of exposure and customer loyalty Boosted had already generated.

Some competitors, like Evolve Skateboards, were more successful than their competitors. I liken Evolve to one of the ‘Android’ companies of this space. They might make good skateboards that offer much better features, but some consumers would still go with Boosted due its notoriety and name. Despite this, Evolve was still successful in the ‘Android’-esque space of electric skateboards, or the ‘other’ boards. Evolve offered similar experiences to Boosted while innovating elsewhere. They designed the world’s first carbon-fiber electric skateboard and made changing wheels a breeze. Their boards allowed customers to swap out small, street-oriented wheels for large, mountainous, all-terrain wheels.

Evolve really comes off as the Android to Boosted’s Apple. They make decent products but they’re not particularly refined; their products and website give me a ‘rag-tag’ B-tier vibe. The charger they use for their skateboards is a generic Chinese charger with Evolve slapping their logo on it. The company I’m about to talk about used the exact same charger with their own logo.

Jason Potter is an Aussie who had been heavily involved in the electric skateboarding scene. He started a forum board for electric skateboard enthusiasts to talk about their passion and hobby together, and paved the way for innovations in the industry. Jason was used to building his own rag-tag skateboards from scratch, and made a YouTube channel teaching others how to do it. The YouTube channel was a stepping stone for Jason to start his own electric skateboard company, Enertion Boards.

Enertion was able to get off the ground due to Jason’s name and reputation in the electric skateboarding space. People trusted him because he was very involved in the enthusiast scene and helped others get into the hobby. His company developed individual components for other enthusiast builders to use in their own boards, and he eventually created and sold his own full complete board, the Raptor. If you simply look at the image above, you can see how rag-tag the board might be. At first glance it might look like a basic skateboard with a kicktail. Nothing screams ‘special’ about that board, and that’s why it’s easy to lump it into the ‘Android’-esque space.

Enertion’s Raptor was actually quite a good product. It offered much better performance and range than Boosted Boards; while it didn’t beat-out Boosted for market share, it quickly cemented itself and the Enertion name in the space of ‘other’ electric skateboards. People who bought and rode Raptors generally liked them quite well. As such, Enertion eventually announcing the Raptor 2 was a massive deal in the enthusiast space. This company was clearly taking the next step. The Raptor 2 was far more refined yet much more innovative than its predecessor.

The Raptor 2 was incredibly hyped up because of what Enertion promised. It said ‘bye’ to belt-drive systems that placed the motors outside the wheels, and promised that the new Raptor’s in-wheel motors were just as good if not better in some cases. People who received access to the Raptor 2 prior to its launch validated these claims, which led to the hype increasing. Testers loved the product, and Enertion was confident enough in the Raptor 2 that it took it everywhere. They actually went on a world tour with their new product to promote it, allowing people to use it and compare it to other boards. Again, more and more hype. There was so much demand that Enertion could not catch up. The Raptor 2 was initially launched on Kickstarter and smashed through its goals. Following that, it was available for pre-order on Enertion’s own website.

Because you may not be familiar with the space and thus likely don’t care to know of all the technical details, I’ll spare you the time and let you know that Enertion flopped. Yes, they failed, and miserably at that. Enertion ended up releasing a Raptor 2.1 product which featured quality-of-life optimizations and essentially a new ‘brain’ that allowed it to be faster and more efficient. You know what sucked, though? They released the new product while pre-order customers were still waiting for their initial Raptor 2s. There were people who waited over half a year, if not more, to receive their orders. In many cases, they never did. I was ‘lucky’ enough to be a relatively early buyer who was patient enough to wait it out, and got my board before Enertion flopped.

All-in-all, they had massive order fulfillment issues, and that acted as the catalyst for the company’s downfall. Apparently, they simply ran out of money which led to them being unable to create new boards and fulfill orders. Furthermore, they had many issues with suppliers which included situations like raw parts not being up to Enertion’s quality standards. It doesn’t help that the founder, Jason Potter, simply vanished from the internet while all of this was going on. The peoples’ voice in the electric skateboard space. The guy who stood up to the big players and did things his way, which others agreed was the better way. That guy simply disappeared while people were waiting on their orders to ship. Again, let me remind you that electric skateboards can be extremely expensive. The Raptor 2 was being sold for over $1,000. That can be quite a lot of money for people in general, yet especially so for people in their 20s who bought into the hype and are left out to dry.

Many consumers decided to do chargebacks, and some even received their orders after incredibly long wait times. I do not know every single detail of this saga because I largely stopped being involved with the drama in the space once I actually received my boards. Thankfully, they weren’t exactly problematic and worked as I expected them to. However, now I’ve started to read about it again because I’m looking for new wheels to put on my board once the current ones inevitably crack, break, or fall off. Much to my surprise (not really), you can’t buy extra wheels for your Raptor 2. You used to be able to, but supply was limited; furthermore, most didn’t have a need for extra wheels when they were yet to receive their boards in the first place.

Jason’s radio silence left a bad taste in consumers’ mouths, and naturally so. He had been incredibly transparent with his audience and customers while Enertion was functional and able to produce/sell boards. He offered in-depth looks into the life of a start-up CEO and the problems small companies may encounter. It was insightful and interesting to follow, but ultimately Jason didn’t deliver. Following that, he disappeared for a long time. Eventually, he came back to YouTube and posted a video trying to get back peoples’ goodwill, explaining that the company simply ran out of money. His video came off as incredibly grimy to many people because they felt burned by his disappearance. People naturally questioned why he all of a sudden showed up again this far into the future, and what his motives are.

My advice to anyone reading this and thinking of starting a company would be to simply be transparent and know your limits. Underpromise and overdeliver until you can get to a point where you’re confident enough in the inner works of your company and don’t have to rely on ‘luck’ to keep moving the needle. Enertion promised so many things and ultimately was not able to deliver. They released a new product when people were yet to receive the old one they ordered months back or over a year ago. They pivoted too many times, and ultimately pivoted into their eventual doom. I personally believe Jason was in way over his head and simply couldn’t handle his own expectations. He’s a smart guy and really understands electric skateboards, but I feel Enertion could have succeeded if he swallowed his pride and let someone else run the company.

I just like to speak my mind.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store