Robert Simpson, a keen skateboarder and longboarder, was on holiday in Australia when he saw people gliding along the boardwalk on their boards, without kicking off. Fascinated he immediately went back to his hostel to do some research – and realised that there was a huge gap in the UK market for these were ultra-cool and revolutionary electronic boards. He thought why not start a business bringing them in? So he did. 

Tell us a little bit about the Slick Revolution concept

We are a West Yorkshire based company sells the most awesome electric skateboards and longboards around. For now, we sell only online throughout the UK and Europe. Slick meaning ‘Done or operating in an impressively smooth and efficient way.’ Revolution meaning ‘A dramatic and wide-reaching change in conditions, attitudes, or operation.’ This encompasses everything that our eboards are and everything we do.

How long have you been working on Slick Revolution? 

The business was incorporated in August 2015 and we have been trading for just over 13 months now. We’re still in our early growth stage but are looking to expand rapidly over the next year.

What made you interested in the idea of eboards in particular as opposed to the original ones available?

I first came across electric longboards when I was travelling down the East coast of Australia in 2014. I was sitting enjoying an ice cream, (probably a schooner of beer in fact) when I saw 2 people ride past on what seemed to be longboards. Except they were flying along on flat without pushing off. I had never seen anything as cool before and went straight back to my hostel to look into them and find who was currently selling them.

I knew they would be a huge hit as batteries are getting better, motors are becoming more powerful and people are always interested in new tech and forms of transport. Plus there was no one selling even remotely good boards in the UK or Europe.

Who do you see as your ideal target audience?

Our ideal target market is 16 – 35 year old guys although about 25% of our boards go to girls. There are plenty of girls riding eboards and more and more participating in action sports all the time. We also attract a lot of parents buying for young teenagers too.

What do you see as your biggest unique selling point comparing to your competitors?

Our biggest unique selling point is the price and quality of our eboards. Our aim was to produce a top quality eboard to come in at about 50 to 75% of the price of the top end very expensive boards.  Other companies retail boards in the US and Australia for £1000+. Our boards start at £499 and up to £699. Staying ahead of the game is very important and we have some really exciting designs and innovations coming out this year.

slick revolution ebaords homepage

How have you been funding the project so far? 

This was one of the more difficult parts of starting my business. My business was funded on personal savings and a bank loan. As a young guy fresh from university I knew I had to make a top notch business plan to convince the bank to lend me some money. I placed my first small order and grew with every order from there.

I would have loved to place a huge order initially to bring the price down I knew that would come with time. To be honest I didn’t have the confidence to place a huge order. Starting small and scaling up as business came in was the only real option without huge funding.

Is this your first startup venture or did you start other businesses before this?

Slick Revolution is my first business start-up and I have just started another business in the US for a skateboard accessory called the Deck Hook of my own invention. We are launching the new business (myself and my business partner Ashish Monga) towards the end of April through Kickstarter. Only time will tell which business grows the most but I would never like to disband a business I have taken so long to build. I would perhaps look to employing staff to manage either businesses as I jump between them.

Let’s chat a bit more about yourself and your background. Did you have any entrepreneurial inspirations from your family members?

Neither my mum nor dad went to university or ran their own businesses. My dad is a police inspector and Mum is an accountant (and my accountant!) and cycle coach. I guess I had a fairly normal upbringing in West Yorkshire with parents who wanted the best for me. So by no means are they ‘entrepreneurial’ but they certainly helped get my business off the ground.

What about your academic and professional backgrounds?

I started my business soon after finishing university and 10 months of travelling and working abroad. I knew I wanted to work for myself and was really interested in the microbrewing industry throughout my time at university.

I studied to become a Rural Chartered Surveyor but didn’t like the industry or working for someone else. My university dissertation was on the microbrewing industry after which point I decided it was a no go – too crowded and very difficult to differentiate. So I never went to business school nor do I have a Masters in business but to be honest I don’t think many entrepreneurs do. Some of the biggest entrepreneurs simply have self belief and a drive to succeed.

Tell us about your hobbies – how do you find balance for yourself between work and leisure?

My business is kind of my hobby too in that I go eboarding a couple of times a week just exploring, taking some pics for social media or trying out new eboards. I go to the gym straight after work most days – blasting a session at the gym after a day of mostly desk work is a great wind down and helps me take my mind off work for at least an hour or two. I then normally do a couple of hours more work in the evening.  I also go clay pigeon shooting once a month or so.

Do you have any role models who you think inspired you to take on this journey?

My friend Will Vaughan has been a massive help in setting up my business. He’s on a similar journey which started 3 years before mine. He has really helped get my business off the ground and we talk most days to discuss business ideas with one another. It’s great to get a second opinion from someone who has proven to know what they’re talking about.  

Tell us about the most exciting moment to date in running Slick Revolution

I think the most exciting moment was the first day that stock arrived. It was daunting as I knew that all the stock in front of me had to be sold but that was the point when I knew I was in business and had to be!

Has there been any tough moment that motivated you?

I was invited to play rugby for England Deaf Rugby Union team (I’m completely deaf in my left ear) and whilst playing I broke my ankle. Five operations and a bone infection later I had had a pretty rough time over about 6 months and it was around 18 months before I could walk properly.

At one point I was told that the consultant was 95% sure I would keep my leg. Thankfully I did but that 5% made me realise life is too short to do something you don’t love every day. I didn’t love working for someone else so the only route was to start my own business.

What is your ambition with this project? Where do you want to see Slick Revolution in the next few years?

In 3 year’s time I would like to be the biggest European eboard supplier and would love to get into some high street shops and larger retailers around Europe.

Finally, having started your own business, what advice would you give to someone else thinking of doing their own thing?

Research, research and some more research.

And advice. Take advice on board, as much as possible from as many people and sources as possible, but learn to filter through the noise. You will have critics and people who doubt you but also very supportive people offering all of their advice. Picking out the good advice is a skill which will be developed with your business.

I think that’s what makes an entrepreneur. Only you know the direction of your business and how you will get there. Listen to the advice but know that at the end of the day only you make the final calls which dictate the success of your business.