With the viral explosion of the hoverboard, thanks in large part to celebrity promoters, our original hoverboard startup was on cloud nine. We continued full steam ahead with our promotional strategy, which in hindsight, was the first in a series of problems we would experience.

So when we had the opportunity to work with the famous rapper Soulja Boy, we quickly grabbed at the chance. After he rode Chris Brown’s, he realized he just had to have one.
Having just gifted Chris Brown three hoverboards a week earlier, we also decided to give three hoverboards to Soulja Boy in exchange for his promotion. We figured that we would see the return on this investment quickly, especially considering how our most recent influencer posts performed.

It was a hastily made decision that would come back to haunt us.

As we got more media coverage, we noticed a threatening problem developing: identical looking, but lower quality hoverboards started to appear on e-commerce sites like Amazon and Alibaba, selling at half the price of our’s.


These cheaper hoverboards were so shodily made that we feared they would affect our own product’s reputation, as they later would when government regulations would begin cracking down….

To thwart competition, we decided to heavily push our celebrity marketing strategy, such as collaborating with Justin Beiber and Soulja Boy.

So when a week later, our team received a notification from Soulja Boy, assuming that he came through with his social media post promoting us and our product, we clicked the notification excitedly only to discover it was thrilling in the worst possible way.

It turned out that Soulja Boy liked our hoverboard technology so much that he decided to start his own company called “Soulja BOARDS.” Just like that, Soulja Boy officially joined the ranks of the 50+ other competitors selling hoverboards at the time.

For any early-stage startup, witnessing identical companies popping up shortly after you just launched virally is debilitating to say the least. Those same companies were tail-riding on the massive wave of popularity that our company started, just at a lower price and lower quality level, adding intensive pressure to your own startup to grow.

Not only were our influencers informing the world of our product, but they also were demonstrating to the world how simple it is to start a hoverboard company. 

How do you compete under those circumstances?

The competitive landscape for hoverboards was heating up. Millions of people worldwide witnessing the opportunities available in the market were trying to get in the game. This massive saturation about to occur meant only one thing: our company had to stay equally as competitive against our hoverboard by having higher hoverboard sales.

The only way to do that was to have inventory to resell, which is where our next big problem came into play, and why ultimately, our company was suffering from the very early decision to use celebrities to go viral.

The drawbacks of going viral were about to become all too apparent. Find out how in the next article in this series, coming soon!

Stay tuned for Part 3, on Why Going Viral Sucks…

Big thanks to the team over a Silicon.NYC for allowing me to begin contributing to their publication. This was my first article published on their site and you can definitely check out this story and plenty more other exciting technology oriented stories over at Silicon.NYC.

Mental Toughness: A Few Keys To Handling Viral Growth

When you launch a company and its goes viral so many different decisions end up coming your way, and those decisions all feel like they need to be made at once. Your business is getting so much attention in such a limited amount of time that the risk of getting pulled in SO many different directions is sky high. So it begs the question. What can you do to prepare yourself mentally for launching a viral growth company?

This is an interesting question because in my opinion having rock solid mental toughness plays a major factor in launching and sustaining any successful business. Entrepreneurs are constantly faced with various circumstances and decisions that require proper mental balance and thinking in order to make as many correct decisions as you can.

Of course it’s subjective based on where you are in your company’s lifecycle, but certain questions entrepreneurs are regularly pondering, or in some cases have rattling in their heads are:

1. Is it the proper time to finally launch my company?

2. Should I meet with person “X” in order to achieve outcome “Y” or person “A” to achieve outcome “B?”

3. Is it the optimal time for my company to try raising outside funding?

4. Is person “C” the best fit to perform task “D,” or is it time to hire someone to complete this task?

All of these SUPER important decisions require an entrepreneur to be thinking properly. If not you can end up witnessing a couple weeks go by, and you can make a few bad decisions, which results in your mental judgment feeling impaired, which then leads to self doubt, and confusion.

I think there are a few important things that all entrepreneurs need to be cognizant of and mentally prepared for when launching a company, especially one that goes viral. I’ve listed them below and would love to hear reader’s thoughts and feedback on them!

1. Just because you’ve gone viral doesn’t mean you’re made: Too often when an entrepreneur and their startup experiences viral growth they think the startup game is over and they’ve won. Boys and girls at that point the game has just begun. Only then when your company, brand, or product has gone viral is EVERY single other company and person in your space now aware of what you’re doing, and trying everything possible to disrupt your growth. If mentally you decide to take a break because you think you’ve made it, and you don’t recognize the new fiercely competitive landscape you’ve created, then your business is destined for failure.

2. Top level management needs to be mental brick walls: The people who are in charge at your company need to have mental toughness like no other. There’s no room for any panic attacks from your leaders, otherwise it will trickle down to confusion, questioning, and panic from your other team-members. When viral growth is peaking and you feel like there’s a million things to do, it’s at that point you need your leaders helping you determine what are the most important things to spend your time on. When your viral growth slows down and your company is faced with questions like “What do we do next?” Your leaders must be the ones setting the tone in terms of upcoming work so that you don’t feel clueless when you enter the office.

3. Don’t let mirages cloud your head: When your business goes viral certain mirages start to become created in your head. Maybe it’s a mirage of your retirement in Hawaii due to the millions of dollars in sales that are coming in. Perhaps it’s the mirage of you maybe one day getting the chance to meet Justin Bieber because he just endorsed your product. Either way these mirages need to be deleted from your head because they’re not happening unless your team continues to stay focused and execute where it needs to be executing. Too many times with my company PhunkeeDuck I personally saw, witnessed, and experienced these mirages that ultimately never came true and as a result they mentally clouded both mine and my team’s heads and impaired our ability to execute.

4. Meditate: If you have a startup and you don’t already meditate each day I would strongly suggest you begin doing so. Meditating for 10 minutes in the morning each day can help you clear your mind. By clearing your mind before the start of your business day it allows you to stay mentally clear throughout the course of it. During my time at PhunkeeDuck I believe I was able to recognize some of the red flags we experienced because I meditated on these problems each day. I recognized many of the problems our business and Hoverboards as a whole were experiencing during these meditations, and it allowed me to remove myself from the business earlier rather than later. Although at times I experienced certain mirages I think one of the ways I was able to see clearly through some of these mirages was because of meditating. I personally would suggest mobile app’s like HeadSpace and Calm for beginners who don’t know where to begin, or simply going on Youtube and trying out a couple 10 minute guided meditations.

Keeping Up With Kendall Jenner: AKA Tips For Working With Influencers

Kendall Jenner's First Video Riding A Hoverboard

Kendall Jenner's First Video Riding A Hoverboard

Launching products is fun but creating a movement, as I learned, is an exhilarating and invaluable experience. In 2015 I played a prominent role in introducing the world to the hoverboard giving me the opportunity to work alongside a range of celebrities, athletes, and musicians. I also had the chance to work with an emerging breed of social media influencers who are easily just as effective at producing results for companies. In fact it was predominantly a result of these different influencer promotional campaigns why our company and our Hoverboard became the number one selling holiday gift of 2015.

Influencer marketing has become a hot button topic in the world of how to conduct viral marketing campaigns. Not only does everyone want to work with influencers but the market has become flooded with people trying to become their own influencer in the space or craft they specialize in. Considering how crowded the the influencer landscape has gotten can make things quite confusing to navigate.

In my experience working with celebrities & influencers there were plenty of lessons to be learned. Below I’ll share a few tips on how your company can work with influencers effectively and gain some traction with their help.

  1. Plan ahead: You and your team should have a allocation of how much product you are willing to gift to influencers. This number varies depending on a variety of factors but ultimately it comes down to how much you’re able to produce and invest in this type of marketing. It is imperative that you create an allocation plan and stick to it. Otherwise you could run the risk of running out of inventory quicker than you expected. All of a sudden Bieber’s asking you for not one hoverboard but five. And you’re retrofitting the entire Kardashian family with hoverboards.

  2. Expect the unexpected: Going somewhat in tandem with number one would be making sure your company has enough inventory on hand prior to working with celebrities. Since many of the celebrities live, party, and co-exist within the same circles it's very easy to have one celebrity endorsement of your product lead to multiple others. As a result if your company isn't prepared to handle that rush of influencers asking for your product, while simultaneously fulfilling all the orders that are coming from average customers who are purchasing your device, you are doomed!

  3. Negotiate your engagement: We found that one post from a celebrity with a large following is not likely going to generate a huge sales spike for your business. Of course there are exceptions to this statement such as your product being perfectly in line with this celebrities audience. Therefore establishing a partnership with depth that requires multiple posts from this celebrity will help you obtain awareness, as opposed to just one. Consistency can lead to authenticity which makes an audience more likely to become interested in the product.

  4. Free product goes a long way: When you have a hot “NEED TO HAVE” product simply gifting to celebrities can oftentimes get you whatever kind of promotion you desire. With the Hoverboard it was a must have item for every celebrity. Therefore we were able to go a long way simply gifting away product in exchange for promotion as opposed to having to pay them thousands of dollars while also gifting them product.

  5. Treat them like people: Although Kendall Jenner and Justin Bieber are superstars believe it or not they are more down to earth than you could imagine. They are normal humans just like you and I. They like the same activities and things that ordinary people enjoy, they just have millions more people watching them do these activities. The quicker you realize this when trying to work with influencers and as a result communicate with them in the same manner you would communicate with your own business partners and friends the more authentic you will look in their eyes and the more willing they will be to work with you.

Ultimately I'm a big proponent of working with influencers and, if it makes sense for your company, you’ll want to make it a part of your marketing plan. Hopefully some of these tips can allow your company to conduct influencer marketing in the most mutually beneficial manner for you and the influencer.