The Story Behind InMotion And Solowheel


by Bob Yan, COO InMotion Technology

 

How Are InMotion And Solowheel Related?

Today people in EUC(Electric unicycle) industry may still have some confusion about this big  question: What’s the story behind Solowheel and InMotion? Everyone knows Solowheel originated and was developed here in the USA, but let’s talk about why the two brands are sharing the exact same models of products without a clear strategy or any official explanation..

As one of the co-founders of InMotion, I was able to get involved with the negotiation process and have a bit more insight. I believe the EUC community deserves to know what happened in the past few years.

Shane Chen who is the inventor of the Solowheel reached to InMotion at the end of 2016, trying to figure out if there was some chance for coordination between the two companies. As a manufacturer with good reputation with it’s unique product design and a quality in its own league, InMotion was struggling with the patent issue at that time. We didn’t want to duplicate the lawsuit with Segway back in 2014 and end up with a settlement with a cost of 1.1 million US dollars. So Vic, our CEO, made a quick oral agreement with Shane that the two companies should firm up a joint venture and work together.

 

A New Partnership

InMotion didn’t put too much effort into the US market because of the patent issue, and according to the oral agreement, InMotion was able to enter to US market officially but with one term: InMotion need to rebrand InMotion V5 and V8 to be Solowheel Glide 2 and Glide 3.  Solowheel was perceived as the premium brand since it’s the original of the industry, and it’s a much more valuable brand than InMotion. So this is why at the beginning of 2017 someone saw the Solowheel Glide series at some trade shows and asked for clarification. The tricky thing was, there was only an oral agreement and that time, so we couldn’t announce it officially... especially because Solowheel was talking to other parties besides InMotion. The final agreement was able to be signed from both sides in August 2017, but that was almost half a year later since the rumor flew around the internet, and of course there was another big obstacle to speak out the relationship between InMotion and Solowheel: The operating team.

 

Flawed Strategy

The board members of the joint venture decided to hire an experienced marketing team to operate the company in June, and successfully got some people from some marketing agencies and cloth companies. The new team had strong confidence that they could make Solowheel become a brand like Apple, and all they need was enough marketing budget. They didn’t know how to ride EUC, but they had lots of theories to prove that the EUC was no different than a jacket, so if you can sell a normal jacket with a high end price and successfully build a premium brand, they can use the same tactic to duplicate into Solowheel. But the one thing they didn’t want to do is announce any relationship between InMotion and Solowheel. They thought it would make Solowheel brand cheap(Any products related to China was not that good from their perspective), and people shouldn’t be aware of any connection between the two companies. They were good at presentation and pulled out lots of compelling statistics, and the board members were touched, and allowed them to move forward with this strategy.

Then they set the price of Solwoheel Glide 3 to be $1699 versus InMotion V8 with $999 in other countries except for US, and they believed that people would get brainwashed if you provide them enough ad, and they’ll buy something eventually even the specs of the premium model is no different with a normal one. They provide precise quantity that they can sell throughout Thanksgiving and Christmas day and they placed thousands of production orders from the InMotion factory and even asked to air ship all of the units because they were so confident that any stock would run out instantly when the shopping season came.

 

A Fresh Start

After running through a very large budget, the Solowheel team was only able to sell a few handfulls of wheels in total through the holiday season. Their performance was so bad we had to fire them all. This is when our San Diego team took over Solowheel operations, and it took us 2 months to clean up a mess bigger than we every realized. As time went by, we found more and more neglected issues and oversights, and it has definitely become a painful lesson for both Solowheel and InMotion.

Once our San Diego team took it over, we lowered the price and began to be more transparent. While there was lots of criticism towards Solowheel, we told ourselves that we need to be open-minded and hear more from the community, always stay calm and polite when facing anger and criticism. Our patience has paid off now, and it turns out that if we respect people and try to communicate, anything is possible.

Now that our team is working with a smaller budget and more grass-roots approach to the community, we look forward to developing a bigger rider base for not only the Solowheel Glide Series, but InMotion branded electric unicycles like the V10 as well as our other rideables like Scooterboard, K1, and P1F.

Throuhgout our interaction with the community, we found out there were lots of people who wanted to see the  InMotion brand extended, and it made lots of sense to the decision makers. So we made a simple principle that if it’s some out of box category, we need to brand it as Solowheel, but if not, we need to brand it as InMotion. So this is why the upcoming V10 is under the InMotion brand again. I know it’s still confusing, but it seems we still need more time to figure out the best way to move forward for both brands.


Thanks for all of your support!

3 comments

  • Tim Koffler

    Thank you for the informative and thoughtful letter, Bob. I am on my 2nd V8 (my first was stolen after 1 year of riding it) and can’t imagine riding anything else. Hearing your honest and respectful account of the issues that happened between Solowheel and InMotion helps me forgive some of the issues I had with SW during that period.
    Best of luck on the launch of the V10! I’ll be at the front of the line to demo one!

  • Ravindra

    I appreciate the explanation. We now know the strategy behind it. I hope both brands flourish without any troubles in the future. I love my inmotion V5F+ so much.

  • Keith England

    Bob, thank you for such an open and honest insight – almost jaw droppingly so!
    Your comments make it so much easier to understand what all of us in the EUC community saw and, to be honest, had left a bad taste in our collective mouths where both InMotion and Solowheel were concerned.

    What you have said and also the behaviours of your San Diego team have gone an awful long way to mending that damage. If the V10 proves to be as good as we are all hoping – I think the past will very quickly forgotten 😀

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