While many have written off Chinese manufacturers as lacking a sense of innovation, at least one startup company based in Shanghai is certain to disagree. Founded last year, Capability Ltd. is busy putting together the STARY long board, and insists that the jiulinghou (九零后 jiǔlínghòu) generation (that is, those born after 1990) in China are no “copycats”.
The company started with skateboard enthusiast Rex Chen and submarine engineer Simon Sheng attending a Hackathon event together. The two produced an electric long board, drew attention, and were offered 5 million RMB by an interested IDG investor to further develop their project. Then they enlisted Eric Wu to their team and founded the Capability Ltd. startup last October.
There are two main features that set STARY apart from other electric long boards on the market. The first is weight: STARY is set to be ultra-light to the point that “even a child can lift the board easily with one hand.” Second is propulsion. The motor, gear box, and sensors are placed within the wheels. Furthermore, they replaced the “short lived” belts with “planetary gearing”, allowing the long board to reach levels of 20MPH and go up slopes at angles as steep as 30 degrees.
On July 15th they launched their project on Kickstarter offering reduced prices to early contributors. They have already smashed through their initial objective of $100,000 USD (actually, in a mere four days) to garner $742,739 USD with 1,178 backers. Their campaign is sleek. Videos explaining their product and innovations are stylish. Engineers speak themselves, but their voices are brushed over to sound digital, giving their explanations a personal, cutting edge feel. From their story to their marketing, the entirety of the STARY long board project has a youthful feel about it and stands in stark contrast to the stereotypes placed upon Chinese ingenuity inherited from the past.
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