Skates alive! Kevin Straszburger of Krak shares his best startup advice

Kevin Straszburger, founder and skater-in-chief of skateboard subscription company Krak, recently moved from Berlin to Brisbane as part of Advance Queensland’s startup attraction program Hot DesQ.

Ahead of Queensland’s landmark innovation and investment summit Myriad, we caught up with Kevin Straszburger to talk about what it takes to flip the world.

Krak has an enviably loyal customer base — what’s the secret?

If you genuinely put passion in your product I can tell you: people will feel it, smell it, touch it, live it; it’s as simple as that. Then don’t forget to add some love in all the interactions you have with your community. Don’t treat your base like robots or worst: just customers. I can tell you, I feel like I could have a personal relationship with our fan base. They have my phone number, send me some snaps, ask to meet for a skate-sesh when I’m in their city. I stay close to our community, and we always talk to them the way we’d like to be talked to: humility, passion, dedication, love.

It would be simplistic to assume that most Krakens are mostly young men — how diverse are your subscribers really?

They mostly split between the US and Europe. In the US we ship to 48 different states (we’ll reach all 50 one day!) but obviously the biggest ones are California, New York, Florida and Texas. In Europe, they mostly live in France and the UK. That’s why we moved to Brisbane by the way: we wanna spread the love among our fellow Aussie skaters.

Average age is around 19 years-old. And 10% of our audience are girls. This is too few for sure but still, we’re proud though because it’s already way more than the percentage of girls in skateboarding worldwide (more around 5% actually — except in Afghanistan thanks to the work of Skateistan).

What’s your fastest growing market?

Geographically speaking this is the US so far. The country is huge and skateboarding is very popular. That being said we expect a few changes in the coming years so wait and see.

What are the benefits of offices in LA and Brisbane?

Like proper 24 hour coverage! LA is still historically and culturally speaking the epicentre of our culture so this is important to us to keep one foot in the city and to go there few times a year. To be honest we’re still in that discovery phase regarding Brisbane so our input is quite fresh. The city is vibrant and people are just so nice. We find it to be a very good and clever location not only for the Australian market but for the whole Asia-Pacific region. It’s an opportunity for us.

Where is Krak headed longer-term? What is the ultimate goal?

I’m not sure we have an ultimate goal. I’d say we have more of a perpetual-evolving goal! And this is simple: our mission is to make the world a huge skatepark! We’re here to serve the skateboarding community, to help all the skateboarders out there to enjoy their passion even more.

Let’s say I want to work for Krak…what can I expect culture-wise? And what does Krak need from me?

You’re more than welcome to join us! Well you can expect a decent immersion into the skateboarding culture; this is mandatory for sure so you better be truly passionate!

Besides skateboarding we’re always spending time to ensure a few things: (a) responsibility; there’s no hierarchy in the team, no managers, no rules, no anything. This type of freedom is what attracted us into skateboarding first so we’re doing the same company-wise. One thing though is trust! We trust each other to do our best for Krak; once you have that there is no need for management. (b) mobility; everyone’s free to travel and set up literally wherever she/he wants. We spent a whole year in LA, then a few months in Barcelona, then a year in Berlin and we’re now in Brisbane. Some people in the team just stayed in Brussels because they fell in love; some others are planning a full year-long nomad trip across Asia. As long as we trust each other: you’re free to work when, where and how you want.

This leads to the second part of the question actually. Krak needs one thing from you: dedication! Just do your best. In the most genuine way possible and everything will be great. Stay gentle, nice, curious, open-minded and we’ve a long way to go all together.

Can you give some advice to those people with a startup idea?

JFDI. I don’t even know what else to say! Just go out there and do it. You have literally no excuse. Not nowadays. Just freaking do it. And please, keep some common sense. Test your assumptions early with simple things. Some very profitable companies and startups out there just started with a newsletter… just a newsletter can you imagine? This is what it means to start nowadays. So do it, talk to your community, help others, dig deeper and explore, all the time.

To find out more about how your startup could relocate to Queensland visit Advance Queensland’s Hot DesQ. Round 2 opens in April 2017.