May 14, 2015
About a year ago Roger Hansen ended his 25 year break from skateboarding and grabbed his board off the wall. The only thing running through his mind was: can I still do this? He’s 40 years old, but that love of watching people shred bowls and ramps never quite left him, and deep down her mustered the courage to give it another shot.
“When I picked up my board I thought: ‘Hey there are actually parks here in Oklahoma’. I had to do this before it’s too late – I at least had to be able to do an Ollie to demonstrate my product,” Hansen explains.
His product is, at its core, extremely simple. As CEO of a company in Tulsa, Oklahoma called SkaterTrainer, Hansen and his team oversee the design and manufacture of these little pieces of rubber that fit over your skateboard wheels.
Each SkaterTrainer is outfitted with rubber studs on it so your board won’t roll away from you: it’s pretty much locked into horizontal position. If it helps, think of it as training wheels for your skateboard.
“I’m a mechanical engineer. I had been reading a lot of Tim Ferriss, and that sort of collided with me picking up my board,” says Hansen. “I thought it was a pretty obvious solution and that surely somebody has probably done it already.”
It is a pretty obvious solution, and nobody had done it. Go figure, it was also a patentable thing as well. So, Hansen developed it, tested it out, and started building a YouTube channel around it to get some quick feedback. After all, Hansen considered the possibility that there was a reason something like SkaterTrainer didn’t exist already.
“We got feedback from tons of kids who are super into it. Old guys in particular too who want their kids to learn how to board,” says Hansen. “The lesson we saw there was that it didn’t matter what age you are. We built SkaterTrainer to help with basic tricks, which is where everybody’s mind goes when they want to start skating.”
Starting a YouTube channel was incredibly important for SkaterTrainer in its early days. It let Hansen put his raw product in front of people who could help him iterate via direct feedback, but as we’re all familiar with YouTube, it’s not always sunshine and rainbows.
“How do we deal with the negativity? You can leverage it,” answers Hansen.
That negativity isn’t always in the form of bad reviews from angry people either. Sometimes it takes the form of people who can’t quite reach their skating goals and ultimately wash out before nailing their kickflip.
So, in a sense, Hansen had to redefine and hone his message. Sure,SkaterTrainer is about skateboarding at the macro level, but on a micro level it’s about accomplishing things you never thought you could.
Local skate shops picked it up, kids at the skate park beat up the prototype models, and after a year and a half of business they’re starting to steadily emerge from the initial user phase.
As they continue to scale SkaterTrainer the team wants to make sure that they push out the product to people who aren’t skateboarding yet. That means offering it to a braoder market and using it as a tool to bring people into the sport.
So far they’ve seen it work brilliantly well in camps and schools because it makes managing groups of children attached to rolling boards much easier. And if they can keep up the trend of growth there’s no telling how many people they might bring into the sport. Honest truth here: it’s helped me nail the Ollie, which is something I’ve never ever ever been able to do before.
Image Credit: SkaterTrainer YouTube video “How to Land a Heelflip“
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