Made in China, Marked up in the USA


Have you seen these two wheel electric scooters that people have been riding on lately? I’ve been interested in getting one, and while researching where to buy real hoverboards I discovered some interesting background on how this whole industry has come to be.

It reminds me a lot of my favorite show “Shark Tank” (I’m absolutely hooked). The show is centered around a group of investors (or sharks), who try to gain the best possible deals they can from wide-eyed business owners. Each of the Sharks has their own unique angle to making a business successful. If it’s Mark Cuban, he’ll talk about how technology can be leveraged to differentiate a company. If it’s Kevin O’ Leary, he’ll look for some way to make money quickly from a licensing play. If it’s Damon John he’s most likely looking at how to market or brand the product. Smart (and lucky) entrepreneurs should consider which Shark will give them the most money, but they should also consider which is in the position to feel the business need that is most apparent.

The same is true for any entrepreneur with any all star idea. You HAVE to figure out what is the area that’s going to most help your business. What does this have to do with the hoverboard industry? I’ll get to that in just a second.

What’s interesting about these boards, is that it’s very difficult to tell where they originated from. In fact, it’s even difficult to tell what’s a knock off. Some people say the boards originated from the US and were ripped off by people in China, and some say the opposite is true.

The earliest version anyone can find of these boards are made by a company called Hovertrax. They put up a kickstarter in 2014 and were shipping out the boards by the end of the year. After that a Chinese company called Chic Robotics developed a more advanced version that is identical to many of the models we see  today. Most of the vendors who sell the product agree that Chic Robotics is the real reason these boards are everywhere.

That said, most Americans will identify Phunkee Duck as being the “name brand” version. Why? Because Phunkee Duck boards were featured on Fallon’s show, and more importantly people like Justin Bieber, Soulja Boy, and Kendall Jenner have endorsed their hoverboard brand on instagram. That factor alone has distinguished them from the hundreds of other sellers even though it’s the exact same board. It’s also why they’re able to charge $1000 more then what you’ll find on Amazon.The irony here is that Phunkee Duck has admitted that they source these from China, and then they just slap their own logo on it. How’s that for an American success story?

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