Congratulations on winning Queensland Exporter of the Year. What was the best thing to come from the Premier of Queensland’s Export Awards experience?

Evolve SkateboardsWe used the contacts and judges’ feedback from our wins in 2015 and 2016 to really focus on a few key elements that were holding us back. By doing that, we were able to triple our revenue and ultimately took out the big win this year. It’s been fantastic to be able to celebrate this with our team because everyone has worked very hard to achieve this growth.

What’s your favourite place in the world to ride an Evolve Skateboard?

You can’t beat the Gold Coast! There are so many great bike paths and trails to explore here.

I’m guessing your skateboards benefit from a network of safe bike and skate paths in cities. Is there anywhere in the world that does safe bike and skate paths (or rails to trails) really well?

The Evolve Skateboards team celebrates their win with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Treasurer Curtis Pitt.

The Evolve Skateboards team celebrates their win with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Treasurer Curtis Pitt.

We always do a great group ride through Paris when we have the Evolve Riders World Cup there. It’s an awesome way to see the main attractions there. Taking part in Critical Mass riding through the streets of London is also an amazing event and something we try to take part in whenever we’re there.

You have distributors all over the world. What are some of the most unexpected destinations where your skateboards have ended up?

The Middle East, Korea and Russia were places we never really considered having distributors until they approached us.

Wow, that’s so cool. What would you say to someone who is too afraid to get on an electric skateboard?

It’s actually much easier to learn than a regular skateboard because you don’t have to kick push. Customers that are completely new to it generally say it takes about 10–15 minutes of riding time to get the basics down pat. If you can stand and balance you have what it takes to learn!

Austrian Felix Baumgartner (best-known for jumping to earth from the stratosphere) is an Evolve ambassador. He found you by typing ‘electric skateboard’ into Google. How important is SEO (search engine optimisation) to your business?

It’s very important to us because so many people do their research online. We consider a range of strategies for our SEO — from organic to paid search results, plus constant generation of new content on YouTube and social media — which all helps. We’ve just started archiving our email newsletters on our website as well, which is another great SEO trick.

On the other hand, former Brisbane Broncos player Corey Parker found Evolve through Instagram. And you have a huge Facebook following. How important is social media to Evolve?

Jeff Anning accepting the Exporter of the Year Award at the Premier of Queensland’s Export Awards 2017

Jeff Anning accepting the Exporter of the Year Award at the Premier of Queensland’s Export Awards 2017

We built our reputation by sharing content through social media, so it’s where we were born. I remember when we first started, we felt as though we were talking to ourselves, but it’s now one of the main ways our customers like to engage with us. From advertising, educating people about our products, and growing our Evolve community, to answering customer services and after-sales support enquiries, social media is vital to our brand message.

For Queensland businesses looking to export — what would be your best piece of advice?

Start small and learn as you go. We had no idea what we were doing when we took on our first distributor but we kept researching and asking questions and now we use multiple methods to support our international markets. They range from having distributors to our own offices abroad to drop-shipping in smaller markets.

You’re based on the Gold Coast. What do you like about running your business from South East Queensland?

The weather is the best. We’re so lucky to live in such an awesome climate with so many great bike paths to explore.

You say your business is always ‘evolving’ — what’s the next step for Evolve Skateboards?

Well … we can’t give our secrets away! But let’s just say we will keep innovating and exploring new market opportunities. We’re also looking to expand into the Asian and South American markets in the future.

You can also view all of our feature articles on Medium.