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Scooterboard Founder Rose Wang Reached Kickstarter Funding In Less Than 48 Hours

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Rose Wang is the Founder and CEO of Scooterboard by InMotion, an electric vehicle that fuses the electric scooter with a skateboard. Her team in San Diego includes Dr. David Hall, PhD – Engineer and Jeffery Will – Experience Manager, and an international team in China. Rose Wang looked to Kickstarter for funding and reached their $25,000 goal in less than 48 hours. What’s great about this particular campaign is that the Scooterboard ships 45 days after the Kickstarter ends. Because of the work that Rose Wang and her team already put into Scooterboard, there will be no wait time for development and testing. 

Rose Wang designed the Scooterboard so that just about anyone can ride it. The Scooterboard has a three wheeled base and a handle, ensuring maximum control when cruising. While riding, the feeling is similar to snowboarding because of the axle at the base, allowing for smooth turns and a unique riding experience. Rose Wang loves the Scooterboard so much, she uses it daily. Her entrepreneurial journey has been an interesting one. From selling handmade paper dolls in daycare to creating an e-commerce store for Asian cosmetics, Rose Wang has dipped her toes in a little bit of everything. 

We had the opportunity to interview Rose Wang, as she revealed her roots as an entrepreneur and the process of how she developed Scooterboard. 

Rose Wang, what is your background?

I’m an immigrant from China. I moved to the US when I was in the 3rd grade. Growing up, I had all sorts of aspirations in different fields, be it in law or engineering or art, but one trait that persisted has been my entrepreneurial spirit.

When I first arrived in the US, my parents were pretty poor, and the area we lived in was underdeveloped. While I was in daycare, I loved to draw, and some of my peers loved my drawings. I came up with an idea to sell my drawings: I’d draw and color in my figures, cut them out and glue it on a popsicle stick, and sell it for 50 cents. My daycare loved it – my figures became their Barbies and Bratz, without the high price tag.

As a high schooler, I became interested in Asian cosmetics because American cosmetics were not targeting my skin tone and features. I remember people on cosmetics forums complaining about the shipping fee from buying abroad, so I decided to start my own online shop where I would buy the cosmetics in bulk and distribute it to the western Hemisphere (I had customers in the U.S., Canada, and Australia), saving my customers the costly shipping fees.

While I was in college at Dartmouth, I took a plant biology class because I went to a liberal arts college and I had to take a course in each discipline. What I took away from that class was the amazing ability of plants to alter our human makeup, for good and for bad. Namely, I learned about the astragalus root, which increases telomerase activity and prevents aging. Telomeres protect our DNA from mutation, and over time, they naturally become shorter, which causes DNA to be vulnerable to mutation and in turn leads to the downside of aging. After learning about this plant, I started a new venture with astragalus extracts in order to bring this cheap and sustainable anti-aging substance to the masses.

After graduating with an Economics degree, I proceeded into the “real world” as a technology consultant, where I learned to maintain client relationships and lead a team of over 20 people within my first year. After that year, I switched over to become a software engineer, and I learned about quality control methods and development lifecycle. Overall, I have a background in many things, and they have all prepared me to start and grow my current business with Scooterboard.

Can you describe your team?

My international team is hard-working and ambitious. Our engineers have nearly 10 years of experience in the industry, having made other electric rideables that others depend on for daily commute. As a team, we want to create new products unlike anything else in the market, and we’re agile enough to improve ourselves upon feedback. Criticism doesn’t bring us down – it fuels us to be better. We all share the vision of creating a business model that is built upon our community, and we hope that, through crowdfunding to launch our brand, we will establish a community that is willing to give us the feedback and engagement we need to move our company and products forward.

Who are some influencers that tried it out and what did they think?

Shonduras was our first influencer to try it out and he absolutely loved it. He told me his 2-year-old loves riding it with him and that it’s his new favorite!

Ben Schmanke of AuthenTech also loved the experience as well. He told us the cutting and carving is effortless and feels like skateboard/snowboarding, which is awesome because that’s the experience we were trying to design!

We’ve also gotten feedback from Sean Hollister of CNET and Sean O’Kane of The Verge, and they were pretty positively surprised by the quality and experience. (O’Kane hasn’t published his review yet though so hopefully that’ll be posted this upcoming week)

So far everyone who has tried it has loved it, and because it’s a unique experience that’s brand new to the market, it’s really something you need to try yourself to believe it.

What was the process of creating the Scooterboard like?

The process of creating the Scooterboard was quite tedious, as we were creating a new, high-quality one-of-a-kind rideable. We started out with developing the components, such as the battery, the control module, the deck, the handle. We knew we wanted to create a light deck with the battery underneath, so we made sure to test each component thoroughly to make sure it would do what we need it to do. For example, we placed a huge block on top of the deck and dropped it from a height to make sure that the deck would hold its shape and protect the battery. To test the handle, we placed a weight at the top, and placed it in a horizontal vibration system to make sure the handle wouldn’t bend, even with 24 hours of endless back-and-forth movement.

Once we’ve made sure the components would be reliable, we start to assemble. After we assembled the rideable, we start a phase we call Angel testing, which consists of testing all the basic functionalities. And this is actually where we stopped with the first iteration because it did not encapsulate the experience we wanted. After much debate and consideration, we decided to scrap that first iteration and start over, rethinking the design and functionalities we wanted to provide to our users.

After creating our latest iteration, we took it through component and Angel testing again, and once it passed Angel testing, we put it through Devil testing, where we tested for edge cases (trying different weights, inclines, temperatures) and even tried to break it (such as jumping off a vertical stage). Once we passed Devil testing, we sent it out for user testing. This is where we had real riders to try it out and give us feedback so we can learn how they will use the product and what they look for out of the experience, and we used their feedback to go back to the drawing board to brainstorm solutions. Once we come up with the solution, we go through the entire test cycle all over again. Testing throughout the process is extremely important for us because as we make changes, we need to continuously make sure the new component can be safely integrated with the rest of the product.

We anticipate more feedback as this product is released to the public, and we hope to use the market feedback from our community to continue improving the Scooterboard.

What inspired you to create Scooterboard?

The inspiration came from us challenging ourselves to the create something that solved the problems untackled in the current market. When electric skateboards came out in 2012, there was a disruption in the transportation industry. People who had relied on cars before could now use personal transportation to get around. However, the people that were able to access this new mode of transportation were few – even experienced skateboarders may have trouble feeling safe commuting around with an electric skateboard. That’s when our team took it upon ourselves to create a rideable that would cater to a greater audience.

I think most people can agree in that skateboarding is cool, but not everyone has the time or risk-taking capacity to learn it, let alone an electric skateboard going at 20mph, at the mercy of a Bluetooth connection. And perhaps current e-board companies are okay with that, because they can charge an exclusive group of people an exorbitant amount for a motorized skateboard. For us, it became a mission: to disrupt the industry by creating an unique and accessible vehicle that is easy to learn and more affordable. With Scooterboard, we want to make the e-board culture more inclusive so that more people can participate in the electric vehicle movement. We want to challenge the e-board industry to innovate with inclusion in mind so it’s not just a cliché. E-boarding is a fun and awesome experience that’s good for the environment – why wouldn’t we want get more people involved?

scooterboard

What were some characteristics you were looking for during the initial development?

During the initial development, we focused on creating a transporter vehicle that felt safe and modern, in line with the trend of other electric vehicles at the time but giving a new spin. What we came up with was a futuristic vehicle that relied on the pushing and pulling of the handle to accelerate and slow. It looked very cool, but the experience was not exciting. So we scrapped it and started anew, focusing on the skateboarding experience. We wanted to capture the carving of a skateboard, where the rider leans his or her body to guide the direction, so we came up with the pivoting front truck. We wanted to make sure the rider can maintain stability and balance, so we created the handlebar with a curve to ensure the hand holding onto the handle would be centered. We created the control module to allow the user to single-handedly control the acceleration, braking, and direction of the Scooterboard.

scooterboard

What makes a Scooterboard different from other motorized skateboards and scooters?

Scooterboard is a brand new category, as it is unlike any other rideables out there. There is no skateboard with a handle and there is no scooter that rides like Scooterboard. Scooterboard breaks down the boundaries between a skateboard and a scooter, hence the name Scooterboard.

Do you use the Scooterboard in your everyday life?

Yes I do. I don’t have one right now because we only have 10 prototypes total and we need to send them out to others for review and feedback, but once we get them back, I will go back to using it everyday.

Who do you think the Scooterboard customer is?

Because Scooterboard is aiming at breaking down barriers to a culture that had been mostly exclusive (in experience and in price), we hope that answer is: everyone! But of course, if we must be more targeted, I’d say it’s for students, young professionals, and people who want to have fun without risking their safety. It’s a virtuous cycle: As you ride the Scooterboard, you experience immediate improvements, which increases your confidence in yourself, which then reinforces your skills as you start to be more bold and take more risks in riding it.

When can we expect the official launch?

We will officially launch our website right after our crowdfunding campaign ends!

 

 

Photos and video provided by Rose Wang and Scooterboard by InMotion.

Jie writes about influencers and startups in various industries. She is a designer turned techie, and when she is not writing, you can find her in her workshop working on her next big project.

Business

Bosque Founder Deborah Choi Leaves No Opportunity Untaken

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“Wait a second… I can’t be the only one with this issue.”

Deborah Choi, the founder of Bosque, brought plants into her home with the purpose of brightening the space. 

“I lived in these big cities: Chicago, New York, now Berlin. I didn’t have access to nature. So, I wanted to bring it inside.

“What could go wrong?”

The Definition of Insanity

The feeling of bringing a happy philodendron into your house only to watch it slowly die is discouraging. You ask yourself what you did wrong. Did I water it too little? Too much? Did it need sunlight? Am I supposed to feed it? 

So, you bring in another philodendron. This time you know you’re going to do better. You bought different soil, another kind of pot, you did some Googling. You got this. Right? 

Nope. It’s dead. You killed it. Again. 

It can feel like a curse, no? 

“I went through these cycles of buying plants, buying soil, buying pots, and doing it all wrong. With the results that my plants would die and I would repeat that process over and over. Which is the definition of insanity, right?

“That started this rabbit hole. What’s going on in this industry? What are the customer problems? 

I saw the opportunity and built Horticure around that.” 

Choi founded Horticure, and on-demand plant-care company at the end of 2018. The plant of your choice, and everything you need to take proper care of it, is provided via mail. If you have any kind of question or concern, there is flexible virtual access to vetted horticulturists. 

“Even pre-COVID we were doing these video chat consultations.”

Horticure is now merging with Bosque, a direct-to-consumer plant-care company. 

“The conversation about joining forces and seeing what that would be like came together very organically. There were a lot of conversations, testing, figuring out. We decided that the future was brighter, stronger, and greener together.” 

Deborah Choi is a natural entrepreneur with a great sense of trends. But it didn’t start that way. 

The Safe, Traditional Path

Born in Nigeria, her family moved to Ohio for greater access to education and opportunities. Like any child who wants to make their family proud and secure, Choi sought a traditional path. A good university, a good graduate program, stable income, “the American dream,” it was all part of the plan.

After graduating from the University of Chicago, Choi relocated to New York City. She quickly found friends. 

“We were going to thrift stores and flea markets for fun, finding cool things. This was the early 2000s, everyone was kind of talking about the internet. We thought, ‘let’s build a website and see what happens if we put stuff online.”

And that’s where it all began. 

Choi describes her career as taking an opportunity presented and running with it. This has led her on a series of ventures including a media company. If she was interested, curious, and excited about it, Choi pursued it. 

This characteristic drive has led Choi from selling cool New York thrift store items to a growing Berlin-based plant-care company called Bosque. If you’re struggling to connect the dots, you’re not alone. This entrepreneurial journey Choi embarked on in the early 2000s has twisted and turned in ways that have ultimately shaped Choi into the success she is today. 

She now chooses to take that success and pay it forward. Enter Founderland

A Community for Women Founders of Color

“What we’re doing is accelerating the business success of women of color founders here in Europe and the UK.”

By fostering a community of women founders of color and connecting them with the right people, Choi and company hope to create a fresher, more diverse generation of entrepreneurs. We know the obstacles women of color face in just about every industry. Taking the effort to provide a community the tools it needs to thrive is one of the more innovative efforts in the last few decades. 

“When we think of entrepreneurship, we see the highlights, the showreels, the major funding rounds. And it can seem intimidating. 

“One of the reasons why I and my co-founders built this community is because there was a lack of one. 

“Building a community is truly a lot of work, but let’s take the first step.”

You can learn more about Deborah Choi, her journey, her ventures, and her mission on Spotify’s The Black Founders Podcast. Founderland is fundraising and actively seeking women of color founders to aid in their journey. She currently lives in Berlin where she is expanding Bosque from Berlin to all of Germany. 

Her houseplants are much happier now.

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Kevin Carbone, Founder of Sauce Bae: The “Hottest” Entrepreneur on the Rise

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Most people diagnosed with an auto-immune disease make adjustments to their lifestyle to stay healthy. For entrepreneur Kevin Carbone, there was Sauce Bae

At the age of 21, Carbone was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis: a chronic, inflammatory bowel disease that causes painful inflammation in the intestines. When the prescribed medicines made Carbone too sick to leave his room, he started searching for all-natural foods. As he searched, he discovered an unfortunate truth about the health food industry.

“I eventually came to the conclusion that the so-called ‘health foods,’ like flavored oatmeal, would destroy me.” 

What is often labeled as “all-natural” in the grocery store can actually be loaded with processed foods that only technically qualify as “natural.” 

The Journey to Turmeric

Most people recognize turmeric as “the yellow stuff.” Turmeric is a member of the ginger family and is native to Southeast Asia. It can be used to treat a variety of conditions including digestive issues like ulcerative colitis. Carbone noticed something on his health journey and specifically with turmeric: an opportunity. 

“I noticed there weren’t really any products that incorporated turmeric.”

In 2016, Carbone created an LLC and the ideas began to flow. Eventually, he settled on hot sauce. He scanned the shelves and all the major brands: Frank’s, Chilula, Crystal, Sriracha. Not one bottle on the shelf contained turmeric. Carbone knew he had something special. Something unique. A niche. 

“How do you differentiate yourself in a market with thousands of other brands, hobbyists, people making small batches. For me, it’s turmeric, it’s all-natural and clean, and it’s low sodium.” 

So, Sauce Bae was born: A turmeric, pineapple, habanero hot sauce with low-sodium and all-natural, clean ingredients. Carbone’s turmeric-based hot sauce certainly stands out from the crowd. But to succeed in business, it takes a whole lot more than a good product.

Some Persistence, and A Little Bit of Luck

“There’s a misconception that if you make something good that people will line up. No, far from the truth. You have to go out and gain everything. You have to go out store-to-store, hat-in-hand.” 

A ton of persistence, with a little bit of luck, is what led Carbone’s sauce to land on the hit YouTube series Hot Ones. A fan of Carbone’s sauce encouraged him to send Sauce Bae to Heatonist, a popular hot sauce store and the main seller for Hot Ones. 

“I actually didn’t think I would be considered. But this is a moment where you should shoot for the moon. I sent it and they got back to me and said they were interested.” 

Next thing you know, millions of eyes are watching celebrities try Sauce Bae. Celebrities like Kristen Bell and Trevor Noah have tried Carbone’s sauce with rave reviews. In just five years, Sauce Bae had gone from an idea and an LLC to a celebrity-endorsed hot sauce on a hit YouTube series. 

“I had already laid the groundwork. I knew the branding was perfect by doing events and going to stores. They liked the turmeric. It’s different. No one was doing that. That was the biggest thing: you need to differentiate yourself. You need to have a good product. As long as you do that with persistence you can grow.”

Money, Money, Money

To create a business and a brand, it takes everything you have. It takes time, energy, heart and soul, and, most importantly, finance. 

Don’t be afraid to spend money. You have to and a lot of times it’s very scary. Whether it’s advertising, inventory, maybe it’s software that helps you prove something. You have to spend money where it makes sense.” 

It’s remarkable what you can accomplish with a strong vision and drive. You, as an entrepreneur, have to believe in your whole heart that your product is the product.

I knew in my heart that I’m going to get there. That’s why I’ve been able to push through ups and downs. There definitely are a lot of ups and downs. Good news followed by terrible news and you’re the only person you have to figure it out. Come up with a solution, there’s no one else, there’s just you.

“I went into this not as a hobbyist, but I’m going to be on the shelf next to Sriracha one day. I looked at the shelf and said, ‘[Sauce Bae] could be there.’

I had registered the LLC in 2016 and knew what I wanted to do which was incorporate turmeric with something that was better for you. I saw an opening in the hot sauce market. That, to me, made the most sense.”

What’s Next for Sauce Bae and Kevin Carbone?

Sauce Bae isn’t the end for Kevin Carbone. An entrepreneur from a young age, the health-conscious hot sauce creator has the entire health foods industry on his radar. 

My real goal is to start going into different categories. I want to go into something that’s yogurt-based. Or maybe even a hummus sauce. I have an idea for ice cream.

Perhaps in a few years time, you’ll see Cold Bae, Health Bae, or Bae Foods in your grocery store. Carbone doesn’t want to just fill the gap in the health foods market. He wants to affect the industry and push it to a more honest area. 

I think transparency and trust is kind of missing [from the health food industry]. You’ll see a lot of highly processed foods have their buzzwords on the front saying, “all-natural low this low that.” The only real solution is to have more genuine brands going into the market to make an honest, very clean product. At least as clean as it can be.”

Carbone specifically wants his products to taste homemade. As we have gradually tried to turn away from processed foods, the larger industry has fallen into “greenwashing.

Carbone isn’t just trying to make something delicious, he’s offering a product consumers are literally hungry for: real food. 

“I found that my body and a lot of other people’s bodies work very efficiently if they just eat real food.”

Radical idea, right? 

The Hottest Thing In Business

Right now, Kevin Carbone and Sauce Bae are perhaps the hottest things in business right now. Pun intended. A natural-born entrepreneur, Carbone has a knack for predicting changes in the market. His meteoric rise in just five years reflects that.

With a product like Sauce Bae already impressing local grocery stores and celebrities, it’s no wonder Carbone has been featured on Forbes 1000

We haven’t heard the last of Kevin Carbone and Sauce Bae. Of all the entrepreneurs out there, Carbone is certainly the hottest.

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Red Brick Distillery: Urban Craft Whiskey Done the Hard Way

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There is something really romantic about the world of wine and spirits. For thousands of years, fathers have toasted their sons, warriors celebrated victories, dear friends console one another – all with a drink. People drink to relax, drink to connect with someone, and drink for courage.

The whiskey distiller has a noble profession. He combines art with meticulous hard work, and it’s all in the name of creating a beverage worthy of life’s greatest moments.

Brian Forrest founded Red Brick Distillery in 2015. Shortly after, making whiskey and rum was the only thing he did. Red Brick is award-winning yet small. He works out of a warehouse in North Philadelphia, and according to him, he makes some of the best whiskey in the world. I tried it, and I have to say, it’s hard to argue with him.

Did you know: For a spirit to legally be called whiskey in the United States, it must be distilled from fermented grains at less than 95% alcohol per volume and bottled at no less than 45%.

How did Red Brick Distillery get started?

Red Brick grew out of my hobby. I was that guy at parties that would bring along whiskey for people to try out. Not just whiskey – I made rum and gin, which were a lot quicker to make. Whiskey was a challenge. I was making one barrel at a time. Along the way, friends were really supportive and encouraging, and I just decided to go for it. I made my share of mistakes in the beginning.

What were you doing before making whiskey?

I used to be a remodeler. I built kitchens and bathrooms. Construction has been my career for my entire adult life. I have an art background too, so I know how to weld. I’ve always been hands-on. I’ve always been confident that if I don’t know how to do something, I’ll figure it out along the way. I built my first still. You can buy them online now, but you could only find plans for one when I was getting started. By two or three attempts, I had a solid piece of equipment that I could rely on.

What did you make the still out of? Copper?

Copper and stainless steel. The draw to copper is that it’s really safe and amazing conductor. It’s a lot better than stainless in that sense. I try to use copper where I can, but I don’t really see much of a difference.

The Process for Making Whiskey: Yeast is added to grain and water and over time it converts sugar into alcohol. This is called the fermentation process. Afterward, the mash is placed in a still where the alcohol is separated from the water by heating the mash above 173° F, the temperature at which alcohol evaporates but less than 212° F, the temperature at which water evaporates. This is called the distillation process.

What’s cooking at Red Brick Distillery today?

Right now, I’m making rum.  We’re running the still on the first time through. We’re collecting whatever comes off. I made an initial cut right in the beginning. I typically take a gallon off the top of the first run. It’s like the super heads. It eliminates all the dangerous stuff right out of the gate. We’ll do the same thing on the second run.

Were you affected by COVID?

COVID time was a really wild time for distillers. All of a sudden, hand sanitizer was 10x more valuable than spirits. Everyone needed it. It was good for us; it came at a time when we needed it. And it was fun. A lot of my friends came to help. One of my friends came by to buy a bottle of whiskey because he was upset that he got laid off, and he ended up working for me for about three months.

Are bars and restaurants big buyers?

Red Brick is high-end whiskey. We do well in farmer’s markets. It’s that bottle you take home for your bar at home. That’s our brand. Bars aren’t really our big thing. It’s time-consuming and not the biggest return.

Were there any challenges you weren’t expecting in growing Red Brick Distillery?

I can’t say that it was unexpected, but the biggest challenges are making the whiskey from scratch and focusing on local grains. It’s extremely rare, especially for my size. Many smaller companies and even not so smaller companies purchase whiskey from other companies and re-bottle it. Sometimes they’ll sit on it for a while so they can say they aged it. Then they just bring the proof down and bottle it. I think those guys capitalize on the image of the small craft guys, like Red Brick Distillery, without actually doing it all. It’s tough to compete with their margins, but doing it the right way is important to us.

Talk to me about your flagship products.

Our flagship is an American Single Malt. 100% malted barley; 90% grown in Pennsylvania. We sell two different varieties: 80 proof and cask strength. The 80 proof is vanilla and sweet caramel on the nose and malty center and finishes like chocolate-covered citrus. You pick up a little more cinnamon and cherry notes with our cask strength. The flavor really whacks you, and the finish is long-lasting. A good exercise to really get the flavor profile of a whiskey is to add water as you taste. The flavor starts to break apart, and it’s easier to identify them.

Did you know: Many distillers use virgin barrels to age their whiskey. This is a requirement for bourbon and some other types of whiskey. This is an expensive practice. Luckily, used whiskey barrels are valuable to breweries, wineries, and makers of other spirits who want to use the barrels to give their drink some extra flavor.

From the Woods is our oldest recipe at Red Brick Distillery. It utilizes the second use of the barrel. After we use a barrel for whiskey, we fill it with the From the Woods. It’s a whiskey made from birch beer that we make from scratch. We literally go out into the woods. My dad and my uncle go out with a tractor and a woodchipper. We use wildflower honey, demerara sugar, and black birch bark. We make a pretty sugary birch beer, and then we steep it like tea. Then we ferment the whole thing – wood chips and everything. It gets super dry, and then it goes into our whiskey barrel and sits for two years. It’s probably our most popular product. It won a gold medal on a national level from the American Distillers Association.

That’s got to feel good.

At the market, we give out samples to people walking by in Rittenhouse Square, and they’d say ‘oh, that’s pretty good,’ with no intention of buying it. Then they’d walk away still tasting it, and they would get four or five booths away, and they’d come back. It’s a common interaction.

That’s what gets me going. I’m not the right person to ask about pure business stuff. I’m an artist. What really gets me excited is when people are enjoying it and knowing that I make a great product. I would put my whiskey up against any other in the world. That’s what I do it for.

What came first: your entreprenurial spirit or Red Brick Distillery?

Definitely my entrepreneurial spirit, no question about it. It’s a strong drive to be self-employed. If it weren’t for Red Brick Distillery, I would definitely be doing something else for myself. Working for yourself is a lot of hard work, and it scares some people. But for me, there’s just no other way.

Check out more founders and CEOs in our Interview Series.

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