But he is part of a group of entrepreneurs that are under he limelight in China right now; post-90’s gen entrepreneurs. And according to Chen, it’s high time they took the lead in shaking off the country’s copycat stereotype.
“People think we’re copycats, but no.” says Chen, referring to entrepreneurs in China. “Post 90s’ are no copy cats, rather we love creating something new and better.”
Chen has good reason to be excited about the potential of Chinese entrepreneurialism; with 16 days to go on their Kickstarter campaign, the company has already amassed over $300, 000 USD as of today, smashing through their $100,000 USD goal in just four days.
He says the key to making the world’s lightest skateboard is in the wheels; Stary places their engine inside the wheels, instead of externally. The board runs with a remote control which is manufactured using a 3D Printer.
“In Shanghai, there are very good 3D printers, if we order the remote control now, it’s shipped to the office tomorrow. It’s that easy.” he says. Using the remote control, the user can speed up and down by sliding the remote forward and backwards.
Electric skateboards aren’t cheap, but Stary is hoping to make an affordable consumer board. While the RRP of the finished product has not been released, the Kickstarted campaign prices a board is at $499 USD. Competitors like Ego sell for $799 USD, Marbel for $1299 USD, and Boosted for $1500 USD.
“They [competitors] are much heavier and more expensive, yet boast higher speeds, so they are really for those professional skateboarders,” says Chen. “Stary is lighter and safer so anyone who is not used to riding skateboards can also enjoy riding it. It is also powerful enough to ride on slopes.”
“When you mount the skateboard, the board shakes back and forth, making it dangerous for a user to balance on it,” Chen notes. “However, using the remote control, the wheels brake and stand still while a user mounts the board or to slow it down.”
Stary lasts for two hours going as far as 15 km at a top speed of 30km/h, says Chen, then riders will need to charge the skateboard using a socket.
How Did Stary Startup?
26-year-old Rex Chen was born in Qingdao where his father worked in an electricity factory. He grew up making things and started programming at a young age. He worked in virtual reality for five years, then for China-based retailer DFR Robot.
“I loved skateboarding so I wanted to create one on my own, a better one. So, I started my company,” Chen said.
“At that time, Simon Sheng and I were working together on DIY projects. He was expert at making submarine engines and I asked him to join the team to come up with an electric skateboard, since automobiles or motorcycles were too expensive” Chen said. “He said no, because there aren’t many people riding them.”
“Then I asked him to participate together in a Hackathon. We bought a cheap skateboard and made our first electric skateboard. We drew a lot of great attention and a IDG investor gave us 5 million RMB to create something that we want.” It was when they founded the company Stary, in October 2014.
The other co-founder, Eric Wu, is 21 years old, yet he previously worked at two startups that already exited. “It was after he took Gaokao exam, and I asked him to join the team, rather than going to University and he joined the team,” Chen said.
“Skateboards are popular in the U.S., Canana, where snowboard fans live and Australia, where surfing fans live.” After the skateboards are manufactured in Shenzhen and delivered to funders in November, Chen said he wants to set up an office in the U.S.
Image Credit: Stary