Originally published at: http://esk8.news/10-questions-with-carvlab/
With so many companies offering esk8 products and services, sometimes it feels like we’re just seeing more of the same with different names on it. Thankfully, the same cannot be said if you’re standing in very a specific area of Boise, Idaho.
Because there, at the headquarters of CARVlab, founder Andrew Allsbury and his resident mad scientists have been up to all kinds of out-of-the-box thinking and product reinvention. I’ve always had an appreciation for people who look at things and one of their first thoughts is how they could make it better. So for that reason, let’s get to know one of the more creative purveyors of “what if” in esk8.
1. What was the first product you looked at and knew that you just had to take it to the next level?
From birth, I have always been one of those people that wants to “improve” things, from skateboards, off road vehicles, and muscle cars, to cameras, computers, and even an ill fated conversion of a fan and lawn chair into a personal helicopter around age 7.
I have never been one to leave something as “good enough”. 🙂 However, my first electric skateboard project was an attempt to convert an Evolve Bamboo Gen2 into a more powerful design. Though the project ended up being something of a catastrophic failure (think thermal run away) I learned a lot about the powertrain of these boards and realized though the project had not been a success, I was absolutely hooked!
2. Did you intend to start an esk8 company or was it a case of people noticing what you were doing and throwing money at you? Was demand the biggest driver in starting CARVlab?
In the beginning I truly just wanted to build solid boards for my wife and I, but then as I began learning and discovering the possibilities of this industry and our technology, I realized I was in a unique place to truly influence the beginning stages of an industry that I believe will eventually revolutionize both transportation, and board sports as a whole. You see my greatest talent is my incredible hardheadedness, I love to take an obstacle and force it into line as an asset. There is nothing that I abhor more in this world than the “impossible”, and I have made a career out of fixing problems that others would say can not be solved. I also really enjoy going fast.. :-).
3. What is your background outside of the esk8 world?
My professional background is actually pretty interesting and varied, the best way to describe me would be as a serial entrepreneur, or serial creative, or maybe just crazy. I have owned and still own many different businesses, but have found passion and professional success in advertising/marketing, video production, executive management, product design / CAD, CNC Machining, and the high end whiskey and craft ice industries.
On a personal side, I have always been a speed freak with a passion for the outdoors, surfing, ATVs, sand dunes, baja buggies, side by sides, downhill long boarding, river kayaking, boats and wake-boarding, I have always tried to find new ways to experience my environment at high speed. Further sharing these sports with my wife Jamie, and now our new 15 month old son Ethan have truly made these experiences exponentially more exciting.
4. It seems to me that you have the interest and attention of Meepo and Keiran himself. If you’re at liberty to discuss it, what kind of relationship have you built with the king of budget esk8?
There is a joke in my house that Kieran and I talk more than my wife and I (LOL). Kieran has been an incredible partner and mentor throughout the process of building CARVlab. His advice and support has been paramount to the success of our company.
Often times when my natural lack of risk aversion sends me into a dangerous testing choice, Kieran is the one to remind me to respect the technology we work with, and that “these monsters we play with can be very dangerous” in reference to the extreme high powered boards CARVlab has made a name for creating. Many people ask me how this relationship came to be, and I can honestly say it was only made possible by Kieran’s love for the sport, and more importantly his love for the overall community of electric skateboarding.
In the beginning I looked at all the companies that were top of the industry, and I looked at their leaders, and what I saw in Meepo was another talented creator who could not help but overcome every barrier he came across against all odds. What finally pushed me to contact Kieran though was the release of the AWDGT. At a time when nobody was producing high performance all wheel drive boards for under $3-4k, Kieran released an $800 board that destroyed almost every product within 2-3x its price, and of course everyone’s natural response is that it will be a “dud”…simply because no one had the balls to do what Kieran did.
Was it a dud? HELL NO. Exactly the opposite, what the AWDGT proved to me was that Kieran was a partner I had to learn from. So I reached out, and Kieran graciously accepted the friendship and the rest I guess has become history.
5. What has been the response from your video where you race and defeat an Enertion Raptor? That’s a pretty bold statement to make, so did it cause any friction with Enertion or their fanbase?
I have to say one of the best moments in early CARVlab history was when our Type R proved it could beat the Raptor 2 in some of the most important metrics. This to me was a massive personal/professional accomplishment, being that like them or hate them, Enertion is one of the top names in performance in the industry.
However Enertion has always been fairly ambivalent on the topic of CARVlab, and honestly I believe it is probably the best thing for both companies that this situation remain this way. Coming into the esk8 industry early I had pegged Enertion as being one of the top engineering centered board companies just from what I had heard second hand, but once I had the Raptor 2 under my feet, I realized that our ideas of what people wanted from an electric skateboard were very, very different.
This lead to the decision on our side to not build aftermarket parts for Enertion boards, and this did create some backlash from their fanbase, however nothing serious, and I truly believe in the end there is more than enough market here for all of the truly solid board companies to share the space amicably and grow the sport.
6. What was the driving force behind the eSk8Trailer hitch system? Also, if you don’t mind, can you answer the same question about eSk8Plate?
These were probably the two most “organically” designed products in the CARVlab lineup. The eSk8Plate I actually originally designed long before CARVlab as a personal solution for mounting lights, camera gear, etc. It was only after we got CARVlab up and running that we realized many others likely desired a similar high end open platform for mounting anything and everything to their boards.
The trailer system was much the same, at the time of creation my son had just reached the 8mo mark, and was already absolutely obsessed with skateboards, so we wanted to find a way that he could safely be included in the family pastime, so I began looking at other ways people had solved the same problem and found that some people had fabricated rough conversions of their own, but nothing that met the personal safety or quality levels I personally wanted to see, so we designed the esk8 trailer hitch to work into the eSk8Plate ecosystem of products.
7. It sounds as if you have an impressive CNC setup in-house. Are you in a position to make everything you need right there or is it used more as an ideal place to perfect your designs before sending them out for production elsewhere?
While we are extremely blessed to have the amazing tools we have at our disposal, things can always be improved. Currently CARVlab shares it’s CNC machines and workshop with my other businesses ICEBIRG, and I believe this relationship will be more than sufficient for some time into the future. However I also can not help but look forward to a day when we can expand our production capabilities even further.
I learned long ago that if you want to machine something right, it’s best to do it yourself…even if that means having to learn CNC from the ground up, and mortgage yourself to the hilt to be able to do so. I have no doubt that this mindset will continue to govern our production model going forward and will help to keep us on the bleeding edge of this industry.
8. You’ve developed a mix of product offerings from upgrades of other companies’ boards to your own original designs for esk8 products. Will we possibly see a complete ground-up CARVlab board in the near future?
I am so glad you included this question. Yes, we are currently in the final testing phase of the CARVlab Mutant AWD. This board is the culmination of everything we have learned, and all of our technology up to this point. I can tell you that not once during the entire testing period of this prototype have I had the desire to ride a different board, the MUTANT is true magic in a bottle. I don’t want to ruin all the surprises that will be coming in the next 30 days, but I can tell you the goals we set out to meet or exceed were extremely lofty.
– AWD Hub // Direct Drive
– Full AWD wheel swap from 100mm true free rolling PU to Pneumatic AT in under 20 minutes
– Make “power” and top speed a non factor by truly giving people a board that has enough power to handle any rider, in any street environment possible.
– Bluetooth control of data and riding modes for an extremely customized rider experiences.
– AWD/2WD Switchable
– 20+ Mile True Range
– Full Charge in under 2.5 hours
– A Price Tag of under $3,000 delivered
9. What would you like to see more of in esk8.
More passion from the big companies. Guys like LHB, Timo, Psycotiller, Bioboards, Hoyt St., and of course CARVlab bring such an amazing element of passion and true obsession to the market, and I just hope more and more of us adrenaline junkies will join in and help propel this sport into the stratosphere.
10. What would you like to see less of in esk8?
Shady business practices, outright lies and manipulation. There are a few companies amongst us that have made it a regular practice to incite, encourage, or outright fund fraudulent campaigns using their user bases and other professional internet “terrorists” to spread misinformation and lies about other brands, while outright lying and deceiving their own user base about their own board’s capabilities.
This must stop. It is damaging to the entire community of electric skateboarding, and will eventually lead to the embarrassment and demise of the businesses utilizing these practices. This industry will be big enough to sustain us all, so people need to realize that, and play fair and nice so we can all work together towards our shared success.