Part 5: Christmas Arrives and Hoverboards are on Fire… Literally

If you haven’t already, check out Part 1: How it Went Viral, Part 2: A Cautionary Tale, Part 3: How It Turned Sour, and Part 4: The Disputes Roll In.

By the time November 2015 rolled around it became evident that the hoverboard was going to be the holiday season’s hottest product. Every child and teenager around the world had become mesmerized with this product especially after seeing their favorite celebrity using it on social media. Children were begging their parents to buy them one for the holidays.

Before you knew it our website started getting flooded with orders. People from all over the world were buying our Hoverboards on a daily basis and it wasn’t just through our website.

We had partnerships with some of the largest online flash sale websites who were also selling our hoverboards for us. These companies needed us to fulfill their orders too. Whether it was Gilt Groupe, Amazon, Groupon, Rue La La and many others, each of these companies were selling hundreds of Hoverboards for our company on a weekly basis and they were driving sales into the millions.

We experienced a huge increase in velocity of orders and it was imperative for our company to be shipping these hoverboards out equally as fast for a couple reasons. We couldn’t afford to receive a bad reputation during Christmas for having delayed shipping otherwise that would set our brand back against the competition. That, and companies like Amazon weren’t going to be patient with us in fulfilling their customers orders. Their policy stated that we needed to fulfill their customer’s orders in a 2–3 day time frame.phunkeeduck hoverboards supply chain shipment nyc

So between our own website’sorders and these other 3rd party marketplaces our team of less than 15 employees was up to its eyeballs in manual labor work lifting, boxing, bubble wrapping, and sticker-ing these 25 lb devices during the 2015 Holiday season.

While all of this probably sounds great there was one even faster, more troubling problem bubbling up to the surface during the holidays. That problem was that cheap knockoff Hoverboards were starting to catch fire on a regular basis, and were exploding while consumers rode them.

This problem occurred due to the overcharging or overuse of a Hoverboard by its owner. The lithium ion batteries inside of these knockoffs were being assembled using low quality materials and components that unfortunately when overcharged or overused were vulnerable to catching fire and exploding.

Viral videos started appearing online of people’s Hoverboards catching fire on street corners, news headlines around the country started to read, “Home burns down due to Hoverboard explosion,” and government memos started to deem Hoverboards as unsafe. All of a sudden during the peak of the Christmas shopping season the number 1 holiday gift was receiving the most publicity in the world for all the wrong reasons.

Although everyone was also covering positive news such as how many Hoverboard units were being sold in the US, or how many happy children were receiving the prized gift they had been dreaming of, each one of these positive stories was either accompanied by or included a negative stigma attached to it related to the fires. There was equal amount of coverage being given to the safety precautions and concerns associated with Hoverboards and millions of parents were being advised not to purchase the product for their child.

How could we expect to turn this product into the mainstream future of transportation if parents had to concern themselves over flammable batteries and safety concerns?

It wasn’t just parents expressing their concerns. We had various retail partners who were discontinuing the product. We had some of the largest University institutions in the country that initially saw a bright future for our product on their campus, now backing out of prospective deals with our company due to the fire concerns.

For all the amazing attention our company was getting, and millions of dollars that was coming into the business, and all the hype that had been generated around this incredibly viral product, as an entrepreneur extreme doubt started to creep into your head. All of a sudden you started regularly questioning whether or not this business would be sustainable past the end of the year or whether or not the product would go down into ultimate fad product history!

Trying out your own startup? Check out these 4 hidden insights to Google Analytics that can double your sales.


Stay tuned for the final article in this series!


Max Ringelheim

Max Ringelheim is a 26 year old seasoned, successful, and as many others before him failed entrepreneur. After graduating college Max co-founded and bootstrapped his own video conferencing technology company called After 3.5 years of working on Vonvo, he then transitioned into a consulting role for various startup companies in NYC. As a consultant Max's most popular accomplishment was being responsible for co-launching the recently acclaimed “Hoverboard Movement.” Some accomplishments he experienced in the Hoverboard industry were generating over 7 figures in sales revenues in less than 8 weeks, and establishing dozens of partnerships with various notable celebrities. Max is now an active blogger, public speaker, and is in the process of writing a book regarding the story behind the Hoverboard and its viral rise to the top and then sudden fall in a new project of his called When Going Viral Sucks!