“With a disruptive product like Onewheel, we had to prove that customers wanted it before we could raise investment from other sources,” Doerksen says. “You have to have a point of view and you have to keep moving forward. Stick with it. Build your market. Nobody knew they needed Onewheel until we told them they did.”
And while Onewheel, whose boards cost $1,499, may still be unfamiliar to most consumers, its steady rise in popularity across the country (it’s now available at over 100 dealers) suggests it may be the next big thing in sports. Its new, updated Onewheel+ (with a more powerful motor that tops out at 19mph) was released earlier this year, and since 2013, the company has grown from two to 26 employees.
Santa Cruz’s reputation as a playground for surfers, mountain bikers, and skateboarders -- plus its proximity to Silicon Valley and San Francisco -- made it the ideal place to incubate Onewheel. On the Westside in particular, Doerksen has found “an intersection of creativity, action sports, and people who value getting outside in the real world.” Since its startup days, the company has made its home in the Wrigley Building, the former gum factory that has become a multi-use space for artists, fellow creators (including Santa Cruz Bicycles, which manufactures mountain bikes), and even aerial dancers.