The million-dollar electric dream

Business & Invest
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All Dan Quinn wanted for his fifteenth birthday was a chainsaw motor so he could build his very own motorised skateboard.

His parents got him exactly what he asked for, but at the time they didn’t realise the impact that chainsaw motor would have on the teen’s life.

What followed was more than 10 years experimenting with motorised petrol-powered skateboards and another 10 years of experimentation with electric skateboards.

It all culminated in the establishment of FiiK™ Skateboards – a Gold Coast brand known for producing some of the world’s smoothest and fastest rides.

“We have designed and developed a wide-range of electric skateboards over the years and they have changed so much – we always make use of the latest technologies whether that is batteries, motors or controllers,” says Dan, who founded the business with his brother Matt.

FiiK, which stands for Future is in Knowledge, produces a range of boards including the Big Daddy – a heavy duty, off road board designed for all terrains including grass, sand and pavement.

The Big Daddy can reach speeds up to 40 kilometres an hour and more than 3000 are sold annually.

“We like to make our boards more powerful than others and a bit more aggressive – especially for our top end models,” says Dan.

“Some of our specific boards are quite legendary, like the Big Daddy and the Street Surfer because they are almost bullet-proof. You can give them a thrashing in some really nasty terrain and they really hold up and are really solid and powerful.

“You can even ride on the beach with them – we have stainless steel bolts and aluminium trucks and bamboo decks so they don’t rust.”

The brand is also behind the Mini FiiK – an electric powered board that can be ridden as a regular skateboard. Riders can do their favourite tricks, the motor is located within the wheels and it is just 3.5 kilograms; know to be the worlds lightest electric skateboard.

Meanwhile, one of its most recent inventions is the FiiK Drifter –the only dual rear wheel drive electric drift trike on the market.

The invention is able to drift not only downhill but can drift on flat ground and even up hill at speeds of 50 kilometres per hour.

“It is the product that everyone fights over at my house,” says Dan.

While FiiK Drifters have been sold across Australia, Europe and New Zealand, Dan says the sport of drifting is growing around the world with Japan and the USA having placed big orders for the product. The FiiK Drifter retails between $2500 and $3000.

FiiK, headquartered in Ormeau, boasts three factories located in different parts of the world and has around 250 different moulds under its banner.

“One of the best parts about having the business is when you drive around and see someone riding one of the FiiK boards, or someone has a FiiK sticker on their car – that is very cool,” says Dan.

While the business is seeing great success, turning over more than $2 million annually in Australia alone, Dan says it hasn’t been without its challenges.

FiiK established a partnership with a Chinese associate who ended up trying to steal the brand.

At the time, FiiK was designing the world’s first carbon fibre electric scooter. After sending the invention to market, the Chinese associate nabbed one of FiiK’s customers for 10,000 units before attempting to steal patents, moulds and the company stamp.

“He tried to screw us but in the end it was the best thing that happened to us,” says Dan.

“At the time it was very distressing and it nearly broke us. It was painful – we easily lost a couple of millions of dollars. But as a result, we are so much better off, and I couldn’t have seen it until it happened.

“It broke my heart but now that it is all over, we have learnt so much. We are not so constrained now because we are on our own and trusting ourselves to make the business the best it can be.”

Dan is the founder of a handful of Gold Coast businesses including: Kush™ Electric – known for its fat wheel electric scooter, Golf Skate Caddy™ – providing personal golf transport in a skateboard/surf style, and FU-RC™ – producing the world’s fastest drones.

It also has a number of inventions up its sleeve including the Miint™ electric hand plane and the jet-powered surfboard which is a partnership with Byrning Spears.

Dan is also involved in his family’s business Ozkleen™ which makes a popular range of cleaning products, including Shower Power.

Dan dubs the Gold Coast the lifestyle capital of Australia and says it is the perfect location for running a business.

He says the environment, the people, and the support from City of Gold Coast have contributed to the success of his brands.

Last year Dan participated in a City of Gold Coast Surf Expo Trade Mission to the USA, designed to assist the Gold Coast’s board and action sports industry while encouraging export opportunities.

Dan says the mission was vital in market growth and opened up a number of offshore opportunities.

“We are really happy with the level of interest and the sales that have been made as a result of the trip,” says Dan.

“The USA is a difficult market to crack but it takes time and effort and the more we are seen as a stayer rather than a fly-by-night company the better.

“We have seen this with some of our other products, particularly the Golf Skate Caddy, as American business is based on long-term relationships and legitimate companies and brands in the industry we are in.”

Dan estimates the trip helped his team to sell around $100,000 worth of product locally in the USA and around $120,000 outside the USA.

“As things continue to progress we are expecting the sales in the USA to get up to about $1.3 million as a result of the show for the year,” says Dan. “Not all of the sales are directly from the show but it is all part of the campaign.”

For more information about the expo, visit: cityofgoldcoast.com.au.

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