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The Entrepreneur Factor

University of Southern California graduates Ben Forman and Geoff Larson debuted their invention, the Zboard, at the South by Southwest conference in Austin. The two dreamed up the electric skateboard as a senior project for one of their mechanical engineering classes. Riders shift their weight forward to accelerate or backward to break.

The entrepreneurs blew through most of the $50,000 in personal funds they had to develop the board before turning to Kickstarter, a Web site that allows people to raise money for projects. Four days after posting a video to Kickstarter, the duo had the $10,000 they were seeking and within three weeks, they were up to almost $190,000. People who sent money were eligible fore free shipping or other incentives. 

The pair also submitted a video to Startup America’s South by Southwest Pitch Contest and won, which netted them airfare to Austin, passes to attend the show and an opportunity to pitch their idea to attendees. The price of a Zboard starts at $500 and the company already has 200 pre-orders. The first boards should begin shipping in April.

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