From skateboards to startups: LA's newest startup, Krak, turned a hobby into a 'sick' product

April 15, 2014

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The team behind Krak, a hardware product and social network for skateboarders, is exactly what you hope they would be: a band of skateboarding dudes out to make the sport even better.

“Skateboarding is the world we come from: I started skateboarding in 2000, I spent all my teenager nights playing Tony Hawk Pro Skater,” Kevin Straszburger, founder and chief skateboarder, said. “Even before developing a website, we were in the skateparks and rode around the city, from one spot to another, to discuss with true and active skateboarders.”

Krak, which gives skateboarders data about their rides by pairing a small chip on the skateboard with a mobile app, isn’t just a hobby though: the company is aiming to take advantage of the market consisting of 100 million skateboarders worldwide. The Krak app helps these skateboarders not only to improve their own performances, but gives them a way to connect with other skateboarders and "destroy" (aka conquer) popular skateboarding spots.

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Back when they started in 2013, the team of four co-founders was distributed across London, Paris and Singapore. They all recently relocated to LA to set up headquarters, raise a seed round and launch their next prototypes.

They tried out their first prototypes in Paris with 50 skateboarders testing them, then repeated the process in London all the while receiving over 500 messages from supporters saying “that's sick bro, I wanna try and help you build it,” Straszburger said.

By now the team has had about 10 different product iterations and a couple hundred users test the hardware and app, making sure to build close relationships with each user to “understand what resonates with them." Even with all this testing, iteration and user verification under their belts, the Krak team still wants to meet as many skateboarders as possible, especially those in LA: “Our ultimate goal is to make all skateboarders happy," Straszburger said. "We wanna enhance the skateboarding experience, helping everyone to progress faster and enjoy more of life as a rider."

That's a pretty big mission and means Krak has to "cover a lot of things" tech-wise, Straszbruger said (everything from sensors and data to design and code). Luckily their team, which consists of a product manager, a creative and two architects (one for software, one for hardware), is prepared for the challenge and is currently hiring to keep up with demand.

The Krak team isn't working so hard though that they've forgotten to connect with skateboarding culture and enjoy the ride that is the startup life.

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