By: Mike Montgomery
Hoverboards are a phenomenon like we’ve never seen before — and a troubling trend for entrepreneurs. The two-wheeled menaces seemed to come out of nowhere and became instantly popular. But just as quickly, it’s become clear that the boards are incredibly dangerous. Not only are plenty of people getting seriously injured on them, but many of the boards are bursting into flames.
But there’s no one to turn to if all of those injured, angry owners wanted to file a class action lawsuit. The boards were developed incredibly quickly, then manufactured and sold directly from various factories in China. No one company has a corner on the hoverboard market and for the most part, no one really has any responsibility for the product.
“Being a sustainable company is not the goal for these folks,” says Tucker Marion, professor of technological entrepreneurship at Northeastern University. “They just want to make money for a year or two off of a product.”
This is the opposite of the way most entrepreneurs view building their businesses. Most founders want to build businesses with good reputations that will be around for the long haul.
So how do you compete against companies that are happy to jump into a market, make a quick buck and disappear just as quickly?