In this episode of Art of the Kickstart, we interviewed Lukáš Joukal and Martin Mikeska, co-founders of FLASH, creators of high-quality, high-performance electric skateboards and airless wheels. Whether you race, train, commute or just want to have fun, FLASHBOARDS will get you anywhere fast, no matter the terrain or weather conditions. Listen in and learn about FLASH’s inspiration, product development journey and crowdfunding marketing strategies.

Topics Discussed and Key Crowdfunding Takeaways

    • How previous eBoards weren’t satisfying Lukáš Joukal and why FLASH was developed
    • The biggest challenge to overcome when designing the boards
    • The reason FLASH was crowdfunded instead of using a traditional direct-to-market strategy
    • Why they switched crowdfunding platforms from Indiegogo to Kickstarter
    • How FLASH was prepared for launch and why they partnered with the agency, Enventys Partners

Links

Sponsors

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Transcript

View this episode's transcript
Roy Morejon:
Welcome to Art of the Kickstart, your source for crowdfunding campaign success. I’m your host, Roy Morejon, President of Enventys Partners, the top full service, turnkey product development and crowdfunding marketing agency in the world. We have helped startups raise over a hundred million dollars for our clients since 2010. Each week, I’ll interview a crowdfunding success story, an inspirational entrepreneur or a business expert in order to help you take your startup to the next level with crowdfunding. Art of the Kickstart is honored to be sponsored by Gadget Flow. The Gadget Flow is a product discovery platform that helps you discover, save, and buy awesome products. It is the ultimate buyer’s guide for cool luxury gadgets and creative gifts. Now let’s get on with the show.
Roy Morejon:
Welcome to another edition of Art of the Kickstart. Today I’m super excited because I am talking with Lukáš and Martin, co-founders of FLASH. Lucas, Martin, thank you guys so much for joining us today on Art of the Kickstart.
Lukáš Joukal:
Hi Roy. Thank you for your invitation.
Martin Mikeska:
Hello Roy. Thank you for inviting us.
Roy Morejon:
Absolutely. So you guys have this vision to make high quality, high performance electric skateboards for racing, training commute purposes. And I think now it’s more timely than ever with people stuck at home wanting to get out and just explore a little bit more. So really inspired by your story, where you guys have come and where it all began. So if you guys would please tell our audience where does this all start and what inspired you to create FLASH?
Lukáš Joukal:
Yeah, so we are from central Europe, we can say Czech Republic, where we started all this out. But the first we saw the products came in from the U.S. I think that most of the audience who are listening to us right now know the Boosted Board. And so it was the first inspiration when we saw these products and when we saw this kind of products on the market. And I tried it for the first time, I fell in love with that, with this product. And I was like, “Okay, that’s something we want to bring into Europe.” That was the first idea because we didn’t have it. It was just in the U.S., and that’s how it started because in Europe, in our country, no one sold it, no one did that. So that was the first idea I, create this board, this product.
Roy Morejon:
So talk a little bit about where that all began in terms of sourcing or traveling to China, visiting factories, doing all those sorts of things.
Lukáš Joukal:
Okay, okay. So, yeah, as I mentioned, that was the first idea, I know we didn’t have that. So we wanted to create it, we want to make it, we want to ride it. And yeah, so we started step-by-step. I was 19 when I started the company, when I started this idea. And I should say, at the first stage I was a little bit naive, like it will be, we will just buy something and do it. But step-by-step, we went through all the things behind, like the business stuff and also a lot of bookkeeping, all these things came in. But we did it, and after some time, we get first investors in Europe and get more experiences from the market.
Lukáš Joukal:
And I decided to fly to the place where it’s everything happening in this industry, in this small electro-mobility we can say, where is everything making. And it was in Shenzhen, in the center of Shenzhen, where we can say that Shenzhen is like Silicon Valley of the hardware. And there is most of the brands on the board are manufacturing there right now. So we fly there and we were going from factories to factories to get the necessary experiences, how these spots are manufacturing, how to test, how to do quality control and how to control all the supply chain from the development to assembly, QC, and do to find deliveries. So, yeah, I spent half a year in Shenzhen. I just ran the flood there going from factories to factories, rent, sit in International Maker Center and met with some interest in people there. They educated us, they helped us to get in this industry and to better know that.
Roy Morejon:
So when you were creating FLASH, talk a little bit about that, the process. How did you go about deciding what features to include, how to design it, how to find and source all of the different pieces of the boards themselves and the wheels, and the technology there.
Lukáš Joukal:
Okay. So the first thing, we wanted to make it better in our point of view, because we were riding to electric skateboards. And the thing we wanted to add, for example, we didn’t like at all the belt drive system because it’s making big noise and also the breaking and acceleration isn’t so smooth, for example, compared to direct drive motors which we are using right now. So we were trying to find something what we can add because we know that the market right now is full of many different products. But we just wanted to add the features which will help us to get the best riding experience we wanted to get from the board because we were using it. So that’s how we, step-by-step, started to adding the parts. And we started with development in this. But after that, we also were facing, because it’s not about development everything, because we figured out that to make one board is a little bit different compared to make all production and bring the mass production and bring it to the market. So that’s what we were experiencing during this way.
Roy Morejon:
So what were some of those challenges that you’ve encountered along the way when just designing the product initially?
Lukáš Joukal:
Okay. The most challenges were to dealing with the Chinese supplier. We can say it’s, for me, still the big challenges, because there is a little bit different attitude compared to, for example, when you are making the business within Europe, in U.S., they have different habits in business and negotiation and all this stuff. So it was big things we went through in it to better understand how to deal with these suppliers. It was the biggest thing for me to learn, they’re thinking and all this stuff.
Roy Morejon:
Interesting. So in terms of designing the product and building the product out, what made you guys decide crowdfunding was the right means to bring this product to market with?
Lukáš Joukal:
I didn’t hear you clearly. So Martin, if you catch that, you can answer.
Martin Mikeska:
So the idea behind going through crowdfunding was that we wanted to come on the market in a huge way. We wanted to bring our brand and kind of disturb the market with our new innovations and what our product contains. So coming through crowdfunding, it’s basically ramping up the production to a high quantity of putting as many boards as we can on the market. So the people get the idea that there’s a new brand. The customers are aware that they can come and buy, let’s say more innovative product, that there’s ever been. And by doing this, we would establish our brand and then continue with sales after crowdfunding, which this crowdfunding would really provide us with a foundation with, I would say with firm likes on the market. And we would be able to do start sales in a bigger scale. Because, if we would just come on the market and try to sell our products, it would be very expensive for us to run marketing campaigns that would allow us to sell, let’s say boards, in quantity of hundreds. It would be very hard to get an established name if we wouldn’t choose the way to go through crowdfunding. So that’s the reason that we decided to go this way and we hope it’s going to bring much more successful than just going and starting to sell any other way.
Roy Morejon:
So we talk a lot on this show about the months leading up to the crowdfunding campaign. And right now the campaign hasn’t launched as we’re recording this, but likely when it goes out live to our audience of listeners, it’ll be live. Can you talk a little bit about some of the preparation work that you guys have been doing behind the scenes to get this product launched into the market?
Martin Mikeska:
Yeah. So the idea to start crowdfunding and the actual work started about, I would say about 10 months ago, and it was when we decided that we’re going to go this way. We started preparing materials, preparing content. And in the beginning, it was a little bit tough to make the right decision, either if we’re going to go on Indiegogo or Kickstarter. So first we decided to go on Indiegogo and everything was almost ready. We had our producers promise to us that they would be able to start production in a big wave, in case would get a decent amount of orders from the campaign. So the whole production process and the whole supply chain was established. That was the main thing that we had to make sure, that we would be able to deliver products to the customers that would pitch in their money to all the backers.
Martin Mikeska:
So we felt very affirmed in this way. We felt that our suppliers would be able to deliver us in case we would just get order for 50, 100, 200 boards. So that was the first step we had to do. And following on that, we started preparing some of the marketing materials, especially preparing pictures, videos, preparing all the marketing content that we would be able to use. So that was the second step that we had to do. We had some more people that were able to help us, some graphic designers and I will say media or visual cutters. So they helped us to prepare the photos, videos. And following on that, we were almost ready to go and launch before Christmas, because we wanted to make this happen before the Christmas time, so people would be able to, let’s say buy one of our boards for a Christmas, or at least pay for it before, and then it would be delivered several months later.
Martin Mikeska:
However, this showed up that we weren’t as ready as we thought. There’s many things that you expected would happen, or that would happen as you prepare them on your timeline. But many of them just got delayed, especially preparing the content and preparing all the things to make sure our campaign would be successful. So we knew already that we were a bit delayed. So after, during the Christmas time, we just decided to postpone by a few months. And at that time, we also made a decision that we would, instead of Indiegogo, we would go on Kickstarter because based on the traffic, we found that Kickstarter had many more visitors and probably our campaign would get much more success there.
Martin Mikeska:
So in the beginning of this year, around January or February, we decided not only to do the campaign on our own, but have received some help from a marketing agency, from you guys. So it was the last step that we made to make sure that our time and our money would get really, how to say that, we wanted to make sure that we would get the maximum out of this crowdfunding campaign. So we decided to partner up with Enventys. They would help us with mostly marketing and the whole preparation of the campaign. So this resulted in setting up a new date for launch. And I would say that was the whole preparation of the campaign.
Roy Morejon:
So Martin, you’ve been working with us at Enventys Partners for months now. What were some of those considerations when you guys were going through the process of not launching last year, re-evaluating platforms, now working with an agency? What were some of those factors that went into deciding to work with Enventys Partners?
Martin Mikeska:
So I would say some of the first factors was that we wanted to make the campaign as successful as we could. So we were thinking that we would be able to do it on our own, but then Lukáš got in touch with some of his friends that he met in China. And I think after he had a long discussion with, his name is Harrison, he had a long discussion with him. And I think at that point, he realized that by having someone who would be helping us with the launch, would be guiding us through and providing us with the best advices with marketing and advertisement. I think after, he realized that the campaign might be much more successful by having you guys, by having Enventys involved in this preparation process, and also in the whole campaign. At that point, we realized that it would be the good way to go.
Roy Morejon:
Yeah. I know the team here is super excited about the launch coming next week. And I know we’re going to share that with the audience when it goes live. So it’s going to be exciting to see. I know Lukáš had dropped off, I’m not sure what the issue was there, but it looks like you’ve drawn the short straw for the launch round where I’m going to rapid fire a handful of questions at you. So Martin, are you good to go?
Martin Mikeska:
All right. Great. Let’s do it.
Roy Morejon:
Let’s do it. So what inspired you to be an entrepreneur?
Martin Mikeska:
Personally, I would say it was my father who inspired me. Since my very young age, I was growing up in this environment where my dad was…Great, you’re back.
Roy Morejon:
He’s back.
Lukáš Joukal:
Okay. So I don’t know how that happened, but right now, just everything’s failed.
Roy Morejon:
No worries.
Martin Mikeska:
Great. Great.
Roy Morejon:
Yeah, Martin’s actually jumping into the launch round, so he’s just finishing up what inspired him to be an entrepreneur.
Lukáš Joukal:
Okay. Great.
Martin Mikeska:
Yeah, so when I was growing up, I’ve been in this environment where my dad was doing business. He was traveling, he was always busy. And I think when I was about maybe 10 or 12 years old, I realized that I would like to, he became my role model and I would like to do similar activities, as he did. So at that point, I think that was the first time when I realized that I would like to do business or be an entrepreneur, make my ideas happen and give people something they want, something they would like to get. And since then, I decided to go on this entrepreneurial journey.
Roy Morejon:
Beautiful. Well, Lukáš, I’ll throw you one question. If you could meet any entrepreneur throughout history, who would it be?
Lukáš Joukal:
Steve Jobs.
Roy Morejon:
Steve. All right. What would have been your first question for him?
Lukáš Joukal:
That’s interesting. It’s hard to say because I have a lot of questions I want to ask him and it’s right now a little bit hard. Right now it’s not possible. But I don’t want to say that it would be a question, the first thing which I will say him, that he inspired me to go on the entrepreneurial journey, as Martin right now mentioned that someone inspired him to be an entrepreneur. That’s for me, it’s Steve jobs. And the things he did, he bring to this work, and that’s something why I also started because when I was thinking what I will do, so I choose to be an entrepreneur because my goal is to bring some new products, new things to the market, to the world, which will help people, which will makes them happy. And something will be here after I will go.
Roy Morejon:
Yeah.
Lukáš Joukal:
And I think that that’s the mission that Steve Jobs did pretty well. So that’s what I want to say him, like, “Man, you inspired me and I choose this journey to do something similar, to bring this world something what will be here after me.”
Roy Morejon:
Nice. Next question for you, Martin. Any business books or life books you would recommend to our listeners?
Martin Mikeska:
I would definitely recommend this one book that I always think about. It’s called, How to Win Friends and Influence People. And it’s a great book that gives you some great inspiration about how to deal with people and how to get along with them.
Roy Morejon:
Absolutely. Lukáš, any recommendations on the book front?
Lukáš Joukal:
Yeah, for me, the best book in the few days I read is, The Lean Startup. It’s one of my favorite right now, it’s how to build your lean business and all about the lean business way and building the businesses. That’s one of my favorites right now, I can say. And the book, which opened my mind about the business was the Rich Dad Poor Dad, and [inaudible 00:19:33]. so these are the books why I also started to do business too. It changed my thinking.
Roy Morejon:
Excellent. Well, yeah, you should definitely check out my other podcast interview with Steve Blank, the father of the Lean Startup and MVP side of things.
Lukáš Joukal:
Oh, okay, I will.
Roy Morejon:
Yeah, it’s a great episode a couple of years ago I recorded with him. Last question for you both. And I know your crowdfunding campaign hasn’t launched yet, but interested to get your insights prelaunch, is what does the future of crowdfunding look like to you both?
Lukáš Joukal:
Martin, you can start?
Martin Mikeska:
I think the future of crowdfunding, so let’s look at it this way. I think there’s always going to be a lot of products, a lot of things that you can back on either Kickstarter or Indiegogo. So there’s always going to be something. But what is going to make difference? What’s going to be the product that’s going to change peoples’ lives? What’s going to be the new thing that’s going to bring significant innovation to the market, and how often is that going to be coming? That’s the question. I think the crowdfunding is looking pretty good. It’s just about waiting for the right product that’s going to come. Honestly, we’ve seen a lot of products that made difference, that were able to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars. And I think they’re still going to be coming, it’s just a matter in what quantity and how often is this going to be happening.
Roy Morejon:
Lukáš?
Lukáš Joukal:
Okay, from my point of view, I’m looking on Kickstarter and crowdfunding overall, how this industry is growing. So I think that the future of this industry will be still some grow because I can see that people like to support the new products bring to life and new companies. And I really like it, this kind of industry. And I think that more people we can see that like it more and more. And so, yeah, I believe still, in big opportunity. And I also can see that they actually, like the companies, who are already on the market, also use the Kickstarter to promote their products. I think that it will be more in the future because now it’s more a little bit changing. Before, when I was looking on it, people were really starting with some idea. And right now it’s more about the way of the market entry of the new product, we can call that crowdfunding, it’s my point of view.
Martin Mikeska:
Roy, let me add to this. I think that the community has been growing and it’s going to be continuously growing, and people will be more aware of Kickstarter being one of the things. They will not only think about going to Amazon and buying new products that are already established in the market. But I think there’s going to be more and more people that will be going on Kickstarter and looking for the new cool products, because it’s going to be always cool to differentiate yourself. Not by something that everybody else can get, but you want to buy a product.
Lukáš Joukal:
And at the same time, support someone, right?
Martin Mikeska:
And support someone. Yeah. You want to bring ideas to light.
Roy Morejon:
Absolutely. Well guys, this is your chance to give our audience your pitch. Tell people what you’re all about, where they should go and why they should check out FLASH.
Lukáš Joukal:
So best if they can check our Kickstarter campaign or you mean like directly to our website, or what you mean, Roy, exactly?
Roy Morejon:
Yeah. Just tell them all about your company. Anything that you didn’t get a chance to add while you were offline for a minute there, Lukáš. But we’re going to include links to everything we talked about today, as well as the crowdfunding campaign after.
Lukáš Joukal:
Okay. I didn’t catch exactly all the podcast because I had the little issue. So I didn’t know exactly what you were talking about. But overall, about us, new company in this industry, electric skateboard markets, like small micro-electromobility. And we will appreciate the support from all the backers or who are listening to this right now to support young entrepreneur with this new idea to bring the new brand on the market.
Roy Morejon:
Absolutely. Well, I know I’m excited for the launch. Audience, you guys will be the one of the first ones to hear about this. Thanks for tuning in. Make sure to visit artofthekickstart.com for the notes, the transcript, links to the campaign and everything else we’ve talked about today. And of course thank you to our crowdfunding podcast sponsors the Gadget Flow and ProductHype. Lukáš and Martin, thank you so much for joining us today on Art of the Kickstart.
Lukáš Joukal:
Thank you so much, Roy, for your invitation.
Martin Mikeska:
Thank you.
Roy Morejon:
Cheers.
Lukáš Joukal:
Bye.
Roy Morejon:
Thanks for tuning into another episode of Art of the Kickstart, the show about building a business, world and life with crowdfunding. If you’ve enjoyed today’s episode, awesome. Make sure to visit artofthekickstart.com and tell us all about it. There, you’ll find additional information about past episodes, our Kickstarter guide to crushing it. And of course, if you loved this episode a lot, leave us a review at artofthekickstart.com/itunes. It helps more inventors, entrepreneurs and startups find this show and helps us get better guests to help you build a better business. If you need more hands-on crowdfunding strategy advice, please feel free to request a quote on enventyspartners.com. Thanks again for tuning in and we’ll see you again next week.