ENTREPRENEUR RISKS IT ALL BY SELLING FAMILY HOME
2 November 2015, Written by Jenna Rathbone
IT HAS been one hell of a long ride for entrepreneur Jeff Anning, who gambled his family home on a shot at turning his passion into a business.
The punt paid off with Anning, and his wife Fleur, founding Evolve Skateboards an Arundel-headquartered business that has achieved global distribution into 30 countries in three years.
Born and bred on the Gold Coast, Anning says the idea for the business stemmed from his love of surfing and snowboarding and was cemented when he saw a man travelling around The Spit on an electric skateboard.
"I loved the idea of an electric skateboard and went straight home and Googled the concept and, sure enough, they existed and had been around for some time," says Anning.
"I bought one from eBay and it took about six weeks to arrive, and when it did arrive it was big and heavy and it looked like a piece of crap.
"But, I got on it and it was so much fun, I was stoked. Then this passion ignited inside of me and I started working out how I could make it better."
The business did not get off the ground straight away, with a potential big-name partner pulling out of the initiative at the last minute.
After more than a year of discussions that got nowhere, Anning decided to take matters into his own hands.
"My wife was very supportive of my passion and dream so we decided that we would just sell the house; it just seemed like a good idea," says Anning.
"We put our house up for sale and making that decision almost made me feel like a massive weight had been lifted off my shoulders.
"We just thought 'stuff it, we are going to do it, we don't have a mortgage to pay, it is a whole new adventure, there are so many unknowns, we don't know what we are doing but it is just exciting'."
All of the money from the house went into making moulds, and that left a small amount for production.
Evolve Skateboards managed to produce 50 boards, which were sold in a matter of weeks, but Anning says after the first batch of boards were sold, he was back at square one, with no more money to invest.
After a kind investment from Anning's parents, Evolve Skateboards was back in production, and started to get distribution enquiries the first from Germany, and the second from Malaysia.
"We went from a couple of distributors and then all of a sudden we started getting all of these different distribution enquiries and now we sell in more than 30 countries around the world," says Anning.
"It has been challenging because we have had to change our processes and turn our business upside down to handle the growth. We have made many mistakes and have had to adapt, but we have made it work."
Evolve Skatebaords has grown from selling 200 boards a year to selling more than 7000 annually.
Evolve ultimately aims to combine the best in longboard design with the lightest, smallest and most efficient in electric motor technology.
Evolve first launched with a Bamboo series and has moved into a Carbon series, which means the boards have transformed from having battery cases screwed to the deck, to having electrics in the deck. Evolve has boards for both on-road and all-terrain.
The entry level board, which is a Bamboo street board, starts at $1150 and has a 30km range from a single charge. The Carbon street board has a range of 40km from a single charge and costs $1600, while a Carbon all-terrain board costs up to $1950.
"Our ultimate vision is that we want to continue making and selling awesome electric skateboards," says Anning.
"We see our products as insanely awesome 'carving' machines and I just want to dominate our industry and I want to be known for having the best boards on the market, in the world."
Anning also hopes his boards are recognised as a viable form of transport.
"Gone are the days that skateboards are considered 'last-mile transportation' we are not last mile, our boards go a long way," says Anning.
"With our skateboards as a form of transport, you can save money on cars, parking and fuel.
"I have big goals, but first we need to get our process right and grow as a brand."
Author: Jenna Rathbone
About: Jenna Rathbone is a Queensland-based journalist who writes on a range of issues including business and property affairs and social issues.Connect via: Twitter