Sure, many of what we do has been done before. And fortunately, there are people and books that are willing to share what to do and what not to do. But many of the situations I encounter are new. I’m always looking to reinvent my business model or take on projects that no one has confronted before. Over the course of this entrepreneurial journey, I’ve realized that it’s the uncomfortable, the unknown, that gets me excited and out of bed each morning. However, it’s the same thing that keeps me up at night. It can be scary, exploring new territory, going into the unknown, unsure if there are successes or pitfalls ahead.
Last week I had the opportunity to visit an amazing client, Inboard Sports. Inboard is led by two enigmatic co-founders, Ryan Evans and Theo Cerboneschi. They are going to revolutionize personalized transportation with the electric skateboard they are building. Inboard has raised almost half a million dollars on Kickstarter and are building out a team of top talent.
But, they are also building something new. They conceived and built a prototype of a new kind of electric motor for a skateboard. The motor is contained in the wheels and all sorts of benefits come from engineering the motor this way. But what they haven’t ever done is manufacture mass quantities for sales to consumers. And, in all honesty, they haven’t made a single production quality board…yet. They will here shortly, there’s no doubt about that. The point I’m trying to make is they are forging new ground. They are building something that’s NEVER been built before.
I was privy to many private, insider conversations during my visit with Inboard. One of which, that I can share is that customers and distributors are lining up to place pre-sales orders like you wouldn’t believe. This, in turn, makes the engineering team uneasy. They have no doubt they are going to ship an amazing production board in the next couple of months, but as professional engineers who have done this before, they also realize they don’t know what they don’t know yet. They understand that they are forging new ground.
After one of our sessions, I was in my hotel room decompressing for the night with a show about Explorers on the Discovery Channel. I wasn’t really watching but then something caught my attention. It was a show about explorers and a very simple but salient point was made:
Whether we’re circumnavigating the poles, sailing for the new world, diving for sunken treasure, summiting a peak for its first time, or bringing a new product to the market we’re explorers.
Explorers must study and prepare, but at some point, they have to push forward without knowing all the answers. They have to push forward with uncertainty. They have to push forward knowing there are gaps and problems to be solved. They have to push forward with self-confidence that they will figure it out. They don’t know how yet, but they will.
The next day while we were in the middle of a strategy session, I remembered this idea about explorers and wrote it on a post-it-note. I slapped this post-it on the wall triumphantly.
I shared my newfound knowledge about explorers and suggested that they were now a part of this elite group. I could see the heads around the room nodding in agreement. They were all on the same page and realized they were explorers. They needed to embrace the unknown, the change in timelines, the setbacks, the victories.
I can’t think of a better metaphor for entrepreneurs and for the team at Inboard.
I know the team at Inboard is going to do great things in short order. They know it too. This doesn’t mean they don’t lose sleep at night. They are working harder than I’ve seen any start-up work to get their product to market. But I do hope they sleep just a little better knowing that explorers have no maps…I know I will.
To read more about our experiences working alongside Inboard Sports for their Kickstarter campaign check out this video.
Lastly, please feel free to contact us directly. You can always send us a message via our contact form or email me directly at: mgutman at wildstory dot com