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Electric skateboard startup Inboard is for sale and all employees have been laid off

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A pivot to e-scooters went horribly wrong

Inboard Technology, an electric skateboard startup from Santa Cruz, California, is working with a liquidation firm to sell off its intellectual property and assets, The Verge has learned. All 24 employees, most of whom were located at the company’s headquarters in Santa Cruz, California, have been laid off.

The startup was one of the highest-profile competitors to top electric skateboard company Boosted, and last year announced plans to enter the electric scooter market — a push that seems to have doomed Inboard.

Founder (and now-former CEO) Ryan Evans told The Verge his team had locked down “a very large order” from “one of the largest European scooter operators,” which explains why the company quickly pivoted away from trying to sell its first e-scooter directly to consumers earlier this year. But Evans said the development timeline for Inboard’s e-scooter “outstretched” its financial runway, which most recently involved an $8 million investment in 2017.

Evans said he received “multiple assurances” that Inboard’s main investors would loan the startup more in pursuit of becoming an e-scooter fleet provider, as long as it hit “key goals” along the way. But Evans said the investors ultimately decided to push Inboard into liquidation, despite hitting those goals.

That decision was a “shock,” Evans said, one that left Inboard with “no time and little options.” On October 2nd, the startup’s board of directors signed an agreement known as an “assignment for the benefit of creditors” with liquidation firm Sherwood Partners, which has since taken control of Inboard’s remaining assets. Since then, Inboard’s website has been taken down, and customer service channels have reportedly gone dark, too.

On Thursday, customers, business partners, and anyone else who has transacted with Inboard over the last few years received a dense email (signed by Sherwood Partners co-president Michael A. Maidy) asking for proof of any debt owed by the startup.

“It pains me that our hands our tied and this is not the communication process we would have chosen, just had no time with the rugged pulled out,” Evans said Friday.

Founded in 2015, Inboard initially raised more than $400,000 on Kickstarter to develop its first (and only) electric skateboard, the M1. The startup differentiated the skateboard from others in a few ways: it used in-wheel motors and was powered by an easily swappable battery, making it a popular alternative to Boosted’s belt-driven system. In 2016, the startup went on ABC’s Shark Tank and nabbed another $750,000 in funding, before raising the $8 million Series A round in 2017, which was led by Los Angeles venture firm Upfront.

Last year, the startup announced its second product would be an electric scooter called the G1. Like the M1, Inboard originally planned to sell the scooter directly to customers for $1,299, with the startup promising a smoother, more stable, and more durable ride than what’s offered by shared scooter startups like Bird or Lime.

But in April 2019, Inboard announced another change in plans, pivoting out of consumer sales and refunding deposits customers had put down for the G1. Evans teased the European partnership, as well as plans to work with “hotels, resorts, corporate campuses, and business parks.” He said Inboard was going to work with “one of the world’s leading contract manufacturers” to produce the Glider scooter at scale for these fleets, though that partner was never disclosed.

“All businesses and markets go through challenges,” Evans said Friday. “The exploding market for lightweight electric vehicles has been more turbulent than most, with multi-billion dollar Startups as well as Public companies finding the market fraught with challenges.”