Catching up with Onewheel: Cruising to success

Onewheel makes a one-of-a-kind product. We know, we know, that’s one of the most cliche openers we could have picked for this story, but it’s something we really believe.

Looks a lot more fun than walking, doesn’t it? Photo: Kari Rowe

Onewheel has done what many deem impossible in our current retail and industry climate: opened up a new product category, and enjoyed a successful year growing and making a name for themselves.

With brand ambassadors and fans that range from Jamie Anderson to Tony Hawk, the company has built a cult following, simply by infusing fun in getting around. Why walk when you can Onewheel?

Transworld Business chatted with Kyle Doerksen, the founder and CEO of Onewheel, to get the lowdown on their last year, and what the rest of 2017 and beyond looks like.

Interview has been edited for length and clarity.

How much growth has Onewheel seen since the last time we caught up? How does that look for the brand in terms of new retailers, distribution, etc.?

It’s been a wild ride since we were in the Transworld offices last summer. On the brand side, the list of rad people who love Onewheel has gotten to the point where it’s impossible to keep track of. In terms of distribution, Onewheels are now sold in over 200 specialty retailers all over the U.S. and in 15 countries world-wide. We’ve added about 10 employees in the last 6 months to keep up with the amount of boards that are now out in the world. Exciting times!

What has the response been like to the new Onewheel+ ?

We’ve been completely blown away at the response to Onewheel+. The launch video has over 8 million views and we can’t make them fast enough right now.

The board is incredible. The riders we brought out to Ojai for the unveiling were absolutely blown away. It’s so dialed in that it doesn’t feel like there’s any technology in play; it’s unbelievably fluid and natural and buttery.

Onewheel has grown exponentially over the last year, and has no plans of slowing down in 2017. Photo: Kari Rowe

Talk about the ambassadors you have on board – how did Todd Richards, Jamie Anderson, Monyca Eleogram and Albee Layer all get involved?

Sometimes we have to pinch ourselves when thinking about how the best athletes on the planet geek out on Onewheel. It doesn’t seem like that long ago we were tinkering on boards in our shop wondering if anyone would dig it. The first athlete we connected with was Tony Hawk. We ran into him outside a trade show in Ireland… go figure.

Each connection has a bit of a different story but the common thread is an awesome product that folks are excited about – generally, our ambassadors are trying to be positive, grounded people. Having someone throw up a post on social media is cool, but you can tell when people actually love the board and it makes their life better. We gravitate towards those people.

Brand ambassador Monyca Eleogram takes a spin on the Onewheel. Photo: Kari Rowe

What are some other ways you are speaking to an action / adventure sports audience?

From an engineering standpoint it’s all about creating a natural riding experience. Almost all of us surf or snowboard so it starts with creating something we want to ride.

Onewheel speaks to the active outdoor audience because it’s a sport, not a toy. It takes practice and miles-ridden to progress in your riding. The better you get the more you can explore, whether that’s hitting a new line on the way to work or a single track trail. The ability to ride pretty much anywhere off-road is obviously huge for people that like to be outside as well.

The ultimate cruise. Photo: Kari Rowe

The product seems to sit in a category all its own – what have been the challenges and advantages to marketing this type of product?

Starting something completely different isn’t the easy way to go, but you get to make up the rules and get creative which is a lot of fun. We’ve generally felt that if we think something is awesome, we should do it. That’s been our north star.

It’s difficult because people don’t have a point of comparison so they don’t always know what to make of it or where it belongs conceptually. Tradeshows have been a great example – we don’t really belong at the surf show or the snow show or the motorsports show, but we kind of belong at all of them. The incredible diversity of our crowd is one of the things we’re most appreciative of.

What can we expect from Onewheel over the next 6-12 months? Any exciting news you can share right now?

We’re excited to continue to refine and ideate on the Onewheel+ riding experience. Everything about how Onewheel rides is programmed through Digital Shaping so we can continue to create different riding experiences for different terrains or preferences.

Past that, we’re excited to host the first Onewheel World Championships at the GoPro Mountain Games this summer and realize that the riders out in the world are now much better than we are…

Check out more profiles on Transworld Business:

Action sports patron saint Chris Coté on the Monday M.A.S.S.

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