When Jeff started tinkering with that first board, he never dreamed he’d end up as the director of his own international company. He was just trying to challenge himself and make something cool. He didn’t start with high-end machinery or fancy computer modelling either – his first prototype consisted of a cardboard cut-out and a baked bean can. Jeff now designs the most sought-after skateboards in the world.

When Jeff bought his first electric skateboard, he thought it was pretty awesome and heaps of fun. But he also knew that it could be better. He decided to take the board to his shed, pull it apart, and start prototyping improvements. He used a cardboard cut-out as the motor plate and a baked bean can as the motor. He asked a friend who was a welder to help him stick it all together to make the first prototype. Once the design was drawn up on a computer, it could be refined. He took the improved design to a factory to manufacture the components for the board.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing, though. Jeff had some trouble getting the boards manufactured on a large scale. He almost decided to quit and just enjoy the board with a few friends. But in the end, Jeff decided to follow his passion and go for his goals. It was one of the best decisions he ever made.

When we visited Jeff to check out his boards, he offered us a ride on one of his newest models. Joe from our team was nominated as guinea pig... Check out the video below to see his attempt (don’t quit your day job, Joe). It wasn’t long before Jeff took over to show us what the board could really do.

For more awesome skateboarding videos, see the Evolve Skateboards YouTube channel.

Why it's important

Jeff’s curiosity for how things work, and his ideas on how they could be improved, allowed him to create his own business. Although mistakes were made along the way, Jeff didn’t give up – learning from the mistakes is why his business is where it is today. Like Jeff, if you have a passion and back yourself, you can achieve your goals.

Do you have an idea for your own innovation? Ever wanted to take it to the next level? If you’re 14 to 18 years old, you can apply for the National Questacon Invention Convention. It’s a free 3-day workshop where you’ll get tools, equipment and guidance from Questacon staff so you can bring your ideas to life to solve real-world problems. You’ll have a lot of fun while building important skills, so come along!

Discover more stories about Enterprising Australians.

[Image shows Jeff standing in a workshop holding a skateboard.]

My name is Jeff Anning. I’m from the Gold Coast, Australia. I used to be a structural landscaper. Now, I design electric skateboards.

 

[Image shows a close-up of Jeff’s feet as he skateboards down a path.]

I’ve always been a keen surfer. I love snowboarding.

 

[Image shows slow-motion footage of a surfer at sunset.]

When I saw my first electric skateboard, I thought, “That is awesome, I need one of these.”

 

[Image shows a close-up of Jeff’s skateboard silhouetted by the sunset sky.]

So, I then bought one, and it was a load of fun but terrible quality.

 

[Image shows Jeff skateboarding alongside a lake.]

I quickly thought, “How can I improve this board?”

Better ride quality, weight and size, and the overall aesthetics of the board.

 

[Image shows Jeff carrying his skateboard through a crowd. Image changes to a rotating shot of a computer generated model of the skateboard.]

I took it to my shed, I pulled it apart and prototyped improvements using a cardboard cut-out and a baked bean can.

 

[Image shows close-ups of Jeff building and modifying his skateboard in his workshop.]

From there, the first Evolve board was born.

 

[Image shows close-ups of the skateboard on a horizontal split-screen.]

Now I design the most sought-after electric skateboards in the world. It all started from me tinkering with one board to make it better.

 

Never be afraid to explore how things work and follow a passion.

 

[Image shows Jeff standing in his workshop, talking to the camera. Image shifts to the Enterprising Australians logo.]

[Image shows Jeff sitting in front of his desk. Behind him on the desk is one of the Evolve Skateboards and is an open laptop displaying another skateboard. The wall behind him is a collage of blurry action photos.]

Evolve started basically when I’d been for a surf one day and I was in the car park and I saw this guy ride on a skateboard without pushing, and I was like, “What?! There’s electric skateboards out there?”

 

[Image shows Jeff skating down a coastal footpath at sunset in slow motion.]

To me, I thought, “This is it. I need one of these.”

 

[Image shifts back to Jeff sitting in front of his desk.]

The first impressions, out of the box – it was large, it was heavy, big plastic wheels…

The quality was just pretty poor. It was just missing a few things.

 

[Image shifts to Jeff skating along the coastal footpath.]

It just needed to be like a longboard skateboard but with a motor on it.

 

[Image shifts to a close-up shot of an Evolve Skateboard.]

So, from there I thought, “How do I fix this? How do I make it better to the way I like to ride?”

 

[Image shifts to Jeff skating along the coastal footpath. Image shifts to Jeff sitting at his desk, gesturing with his hands.]

And I started tinkering. I made a cardboard cut-out for a template for a motor plate, and then I got a baked bean can to replace what the motor was and I took it to a local friend who was a welder and then he helped me sort of slap it all together, and then we had our first prototype Evolve board.

 

[Image shifts to close-up shots of an Evolve Skateboard being constructed.]

I do have a slight design background. I have been a structural landscaper for many years, and from there we used to design landscapes for certain people, and beautiful houses, and I loved that, and I loved all things kind of design.

 

[Image shifts to Jeff sitting at his desk. Image shifts to close-up shots of an Evolve Skateboard being constructed.]

However, when I had this board, it was never about trying to make a commercial project. It was always about trying to create something for me that works. And it was just about talking to people, finding the right people to work with and communicate your idea across, and that’s how you make things happen.

 

[Image shifts to Jeff sitting at his desk.]

I found a local CAD drawer. We got the ideas onto the computer and then we tinkered with the design on the computer from there.

 

[Image shows several people skateboarding down a road.]

We took the drawing to a local CNC factory, and then he helped us CNC the design and it was fantastic to see something go from a computer drawing to a CAD drawing, to being a physical product.

 

[Image shifts to Jeff sitting at his desk, gesturing with his hands.]

You know, that is essentially the essence of prototyping. It’s to go from concept, you’ve got to draw it up, whether it’s on paper by hand, or you just slap together things to get the whole concept, and then you refine it.

 

[Image shows several people skateboarding down a road.]

The big road block was when we made a bunch of boards, maybe 10 to 20 of them for mates and friends, and then we were getting interest from certain manufacturers here and we thought that we were going to do some work with them and my little experience in that form of business certainly slowed us and, when we realised that it wasn’t going to happen, the big road block there was like, “Okay, what do we do now? Do we just throw it in the bin and just enjoy our own design and have some fun with it? Or do we just throw it out there and start something new?”

 

[Image shifts to Jeff sitting at his desk, gesturing with his hands.]

And, at the time it was a big risk, because I was a structural landscaper. However, I had this new passion and it just made sense.

It’s like, I’d rather do something that I love than do something because I just have to do it.

 

[Image shifts to close-up shots of the Evolve Skateboard.]

When we made that decision, that was almost like the best decision I ever did.

I never looked back. I didn’t even think about the risk. I just thought, “Wow, this is a new venture. New opportunity.”

 

[Image shifts to a YouTube video of Jeff building one of the skateboards.]

We started doing YouTube videos which were so dodgy, but that’s where our grassroots are and that’s where we were born, pretty much, and we’ve learned so much along the way.

We’ve made mistakes and we’ve learned from those mistakes, and I’m glad we made those mistakes otherwise we wouldn’t be here today.

 

[Image shows Jeff skateboarding along the road. Image shifts to Jeff sitting at his desk.]

If you are determined and you’re passionate about something that you do, you will succeed. It’s just whether you’re determined and passionate enough.

 

[Image shifts to the Enterprising Australians logo.]