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Inboard Technology raises $8 million to be the Tesla of electric skateboards

Jonathan Shieber

If you're a company working on an electric skateboard that's already raised nearly $500,000 on Kickstarter and slayed the Shark Tank sharks what do you do for an encore?

The answer, at least for Inboard Technology, is to go out and raise $8 million in a new round of venture funding to become the Tesla of skateboards.

Founded in 2014 by Ryan Evans and Theo Cerboneschi, the company began with Cerboneschi's collegiate vision of zooming around campus on an electric skateboard.

Evans, the former president of the action sports gear maker Pure Action Sports, met Cerboneschi, who had become a professional kite-boarder, when the two worked together at Pure Action.

Both men shared a love of skateboarding and both loved the idea of a rugged, software enabled electric skateboard and from that, Inboard Technology was born.

Based in Santa Cruz, Calif., the company has skated from success-to-success culminating in this most recent round, led by Los Angeles-based Upfront Ventures. Kobie Fuller, a partner at the firm will be joining the company's board of directors.

"It's the baddest-ass, best-designed, most fun electric skateboard on the market," Fuller told me.

But for both Fuller and Evans, the skateboard is about much more than a fun update to a childhood toy.

"There’s an overall macro thesis that exists around urban centers getting more densely populated. Car traffic is getting to be much more of a mess and cities need to prioritize other forms of transportation for people to get around," Fuller says.

Enter, Inboard's board.

Declining car ownership, increasing mobility options and a need for transitional vehicles between public transport hubs will drive demand for new modes of getting around, Fuller said.

And electrified skateboards or bicycles will become a more popular option to close gap for trips that are 5 miles or less. Recent research indicates that over half of all trips in the U.S. are actually less than 5 miles... and 20% are less than two miles, according to data provided by the company.

As Evans told Smart Magazine earlier this year, "With the M1, we created intermodal transportation... we provide a valuable, efficient solution that gives you a more personal way of getting around the city -- it connects you to all available transportation methods."

And, after the round, Inboard will be ollie-ing on to shelves at Best Buy in over 200 stores around the country. And, as an added incentive for would-be riders, the company is offering a $400 discount off its sticker price of $1399 from the 21st to the 27th of November, just in time for the holidays.

What separates the Inboard M-1 from competitors like the Movpak, Blink Board or the Zboard, is its on-deck fully integrated battery and electronics; a patent-pending in-wheel motor system, which means the board doesn't need belts on its drive-train; and a design that allows for swappable batteries -- giving the board a longer range, the company said.

And, like Tesla, the company updates its firmware to improve speed, range and torque. The latest firmware update gave the board a 40% increase, improving performance without any hardware upgrades, according to the company.

All of those features attracted not just Upfront, but investors like the battery technology developer LION Smart, the European investment firm Sunstone Capital and previous seed investor Sweet Capital -- which led the company's $3.7 million seed round.

"This is a badass, beautiful high-performance board," says Fuller, who's not just an investor, but also a customer.