UMD Business Model Challenge Winner Launches First Crowdfunding Campaign, Raises $10,000 in One Week
COLLEGE PARK, Md.—Chase Kaczmarek, a senior at the University of Maryland and founder of Shield Boards LLC, launched a Kickstarter campaign on August 5 to fund production of his company’s product, Wheel Shields, which eliminates a safety problem called “wheel bite” in skateboarding and longboarding. In just one week on Kickstarter, the company raised over $10,000.
This year’s first-place and $8,000 winner in the 2013 University of Maryland Business Model Challenge, Shield Boards LLC is hoping to raise $25,000 by September 4 to purchase a die cast mold needed to mass-produce and market the company’s injury-reducing skate and longboard accessory, Wheel Shields.
Wheel Shields are rounded covers for skateboard or longboard wheels intended to eliminate the problem of “wheel bite.” This phenomenon occurs during a hard turn when the bottom of the board comes in contact with the top of the wheels, causing the wheels to stop abruptly. This sudden change in speed throws riders to the ground, increasing their risk of injury.
After suffering from the effects of wheel bite a year ago, Kaczmarek set forth to develop a solution to the seemingly unavoidable problem.
“After experiencing wheel bite first-hand, I was surprised to find that there were no solutions for this problem on the market,” said Kaczmarek. “I began brainstorming ideas to eliminate wheel bite and improve the overall safety of skaters world-wide.”
One year and 20 prototypes later, Wheel Shields are coming to fruition. The patented technology is made from aircraft aluminum, an extremely durable material, and is compatible with most longboard or skateboard wheels under 75mm. A set of four shields weighs less than one pound.
Wheel Shields also provide splash protection when riding through wet terrain and open up new trick possibilities by letting skaters stand directly over their wheels. The newest prototype also covers less than half of the wheel, which reduces the likelihood of rocks getting caught inside and jamming wheels while riding.
Shield Boards LLC also won first place at UMD’s Pitch Dingman Competition in February 2013, and was voted “coolest booth” at the University’s Cupid’s Cup Business and Innovation Showcase in April, sponsored by Under Armor Founder and CEO Kevin Plank.
For more information on Wheel Shields, or to help fund the company’s campaign, please visit www.bit.ly/WheelShields.
Led and managed by the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech), a unit of the A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland, the UMD Business Model Challenge encourages students, faculty, researchers, staff and recent alumni at UMD and University of Maryland, Baltimore to leverage their talent and ideas to create tomorrow’s leading companies. The competition process, its mentors, partners and cash prizes have helped many students, faculty and researchers build their own companies.
August 26, 2013