Not quite 25 years old, Zionsville native EJ Williams is zooming toward the future of urban transportation with his fresh spin on the infamous hover board.
The 2015 Purdue graduate had barely moved his tassel to the left before being swept off to Texas at the request of Shark Tank investor and billionaire businessman Mark Cuban, an Indiana University alumnus.
“When I graduated I decided I didn’t want to work for a traditional company,” Williams said. “Lucky for me, Mark came calling and wanted me to come to Dallas to help build these hover boards.”
The electrical engineering graduate teamed up with Cuban and another recruit to form Radical Transport, a company dedicated to redefining personal transportation. Their efforts resulted in the creation of a stronger, safer and sleeker technology – the MOOV Board.
“It’s a little bit of utility and recreation. It will definitely get you from point A to point B,” Williams said. “It’s got a great range of up to 12 miles, but will also get you there while having fun.”
Williams said the MOOV Board is “one hundred percent safe” and much higher quality than its competitors. He assured that this hover board won’t catch on fire like some others do.
Likening the riding experience to rollerblading or snowboarding, Williams said his invention has a few key differences from traditional hover boards. Normally shaped like an hourglass, hover boards tilt back and forth for turning. But not the MOOV.
“There hasn’t been a solid platform yet,” Williams explained. “So what we did is make a new turning technology that doesn’t have a swivel. It’s actually more weightbased.”
Using torsion turn technology, MOOV responds to changes in foot position and weight transfer, similar to the sensitivity of gas and brake pedals in a car. With nine-inch wheels and an aluminum platform, it’s also more durable than standard hover boards, according to Williams.
In an already booming industry, Williams hopes his new technology can shake things up.
“The phenomenon of hover boards shows the popularity of this product, but there wasn’t really a premium version of it yet,” he said. “There wasn’t even a safe version of it, either.”
MOOV is not intended for kids or to be used as a toy. It’s meant for city commuters, college students or those looking for a more transportable vehicle for short-distance travel.
Back to the beginning
Williams doesn’t take all of the credit for his success. He points to mentors who sparked his interest in science.
Grant Chapman, childhood friend and classmate, watched Williams’ curiosity about electronics grow when Williams began developing a homemade Segway his senior year of high school.
“I remember when he told me what he was doing, I thought he was crazy,” Chapman said with a laugh. “Now it’s a good kind of crazy.”
Williams reached out to his old friend for help in 2015 during MOOV’s development stages. Chapman works for an Indianapolis product engineering firm, and together, the two developed a new motor system for MOOV.
Even farther back, Williams credited his Zionsville High School physics teacher, Matt Mulholland, with encouraging his interest in science.
“It’s that curiosity that he showed early on in high school that I think is responsible for getting him to where he is now,” Mulholland said. “It’s allowing him to put his creativity on full display with MOOV.”
Mulholland said he’s taught hundreds students in his career, but none like Williams.
“There are lots of sharp kids I have as a physics teacher, but he had something else,” Mulholland added. “He had a spark of creativity and ingenuity that not every kid has.”
Despite favorable prospects, Williams knows cost could be an issue for his product. MOOV Boards can be pre-ordered online for $1,200. But in November, they’ll be listed at $1,500. The price tag is a reminder that Williams touts his product as an investment, not a cheap toy.
“The biggest challenge is going up against these saturated, very cheap hover boards and differentiating ourselves to show we’re something new,” he said.
In an industry that looks promising, Williams looks forward to seeing how MOOV is received by potential buyers.
“You’re going to see a ton of new, cool, portable things that you can ride coming out in the future,” he said. “I’m excited to be a part of that.”