UPDATED: FRIDAY MAY 15:
Patrick and Fleishman went on Shark Tank seeking $100,000 for 5 percent ownership. They ended up with a three-person deal involving Mark Cuban for $225,000 for a 7.5 percent ownership.
The future of the skateboarding industry will hardly live or die with any decisions that the celeb investors of the ABC reality show “Shark Tank” make when their season six finale airs Friday night.
Even as a clip of the show that was released late this week circulates, it may not appear to be all that fruitful for David Patrick, who invented and patented this cube-shaped Shark Wheel that has been out in production for the last year, and for business partner Zack Fleishman, his chief operations officer.
But Patrick and Fleishman already feel as if they’re on a pretty good roll here.
In their Lake Forest production facilities just outside of Irvine, the two have been transfixed on all kinds of possibilities — sports and otherwise — for this “square wheel,” which is actually a geometric pattern that morphs as a cube, a sphere and a sine wave slithering across the pavement.
It’s something you almost have to see, feel and try in person to understand. Or just take the word of the skateboarders who already have.
Patrick was in the “real world” of mortgage banking and software industry when he admittedly stumbled upon this scientific application for reinventing the wheel as he could envision to be used on, for starters, a skateboard.
Fleishman, a former UCLA tennis player out of Santa Monica who went on the ATP circuit and won more than a half-dozen tournaments, had always been interested in science and was introduced to Patrick by his workout coach and trainer. The two have been scratching their heads, making and breaking molds with their 3D printer, and trying to find new ways to capitalize on this shape ever since they went through some crowd-funding websites to raise money that could be used for research and development.
A third key person to the company is Pedro Valdez, a famous Hollywood mold maker who has won Emmy and Oscars for his work on movies such as “Pirates of the Carribean,” “Spiderman” and “Batman.” His ability to create a mold that works to produce this skateboard wheel was critical in the process.
There are many applications rolling around in all their heads, from shopping carts, strollers and luggage, as well as more sports-related adventures. Think of Popular Science meeting the X Games on some level.
Their “Shark Tank” exposure could push them to another level.
We caught up with Patrick and Fleishman at their facility to talk about where this wheel has come from and where it could be rolling:
Q: We have seen the skateboard wheel change over time using different materials and shapes and widths over the years. Is this really the next big step in skateboard innovation or do too many consider it a gimmick?
Patrick: So if we have gone from steel to clay and poly urethane, the number one reason this latest material has become a good thing is because of how it reacts when you hit rocks and cracks. But outside of that, the only thing really changing was color and graphics. We got to a point to where it was so good and everyone was kind of the same. The only choice was having a softer urethane with more grip, which is slower, or a harder urethane, which has no grip but is nice and fast. We came up with a wheel that was both – you didn’t sacrifice one or the other. Our wheels has a very little footprint.
The reason is we went after it with geometry rather than materials. I think this is the most radical change for the industry that I’ve seen in the last 30 years. I go way back and I have been a super passionate skater my whole life — I started on a Black Knight skateboard with clay wheels. I had a Logan Earth Ski. I had a Hobie Parkrider with OJ wheels, Bones, Sims, Bennett pros as my trucks. I wanted Strokers so bad because they had shock absorbers on them. The first time I rode a Sector 9 long board I was blown away. I couldn’t believe how Cadillac-amazing it was. That was what we set as our bench mark. I said if I can’t at least be that good, I don’t have any reason being in the market place. We ended up being better. I can always say I’m better and stand tall because I go over the rocks and nobody else can. They’re a steamroller, and I’m constantly snaking.
That in and of itself is an advantage and a reason to be alive in the world. We end up with a goose that lays the golden eggs, I think, for the skate industry. Continue reading