The concept touches a bit on driving app Waze, in which a network of commuters gives out live information about traffic conditions and recommends shortcuts. Earlier this year, Google Inc. purchased the Israeli company behind that app for $1.1 billion.
The community idea was a large appeal for Paige Craig, a prolific L.A. angel investor who’s already committed to ActiveReplay’s seed round.
“The hardware is rad and sexy, but the real juice is in the data and the platform,” Craig wrote in an email. “Imagine this massive God’s eye view of every outdoor activity going on, and you suddenly realize that platform is a multibillion-dollar opportunity.”
Grounded in science
Lokshin, 27, initially approached the idea as a side project. Prior to launching ActiveReplay out of Huntington Beach, he worked as an options trader for Barclay’s Capital.
As an Orange County native and lifelong surfer, he was stoked for this particular career turn.
“Southern California is one of the few places in the world where you can go surfing and snowboarding on the same day,” he said.
It also helped that his father, Anatole, is a rocket scientist – a real rocket scientist – who previously worked at Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and helped commodify satellite tracking technology while at Santa Clara’s pioneering GPS firm, Magellan Navigation Inc.
Lokshin’s father was instrumental in designing Trace and serves as ActiveReplay’s chief executive officer; David Lokshin is vice president of product. The company employs 10 and plans to expand as it ramps up for release.
Although Trace’s crowdfunding success proved that there’s an eager market, the Kickstarter landscape is also littered with hyped electronic devices that have fizzled upon release.
Crowdfunding hits such as the Pebble smartwatch and the Ouya gaming console racked up millions in donations, only to see their public releases marred by lousy reviews and underwhelming sales.
Lokshin countered that this device has a different appeal. Of Trace’s backers, 75 percent were first-time Kickstarter donors who had just signed up for an account. This, he said, shows a committed crowd of actual users as opposed to hype-fueled techies.
He conceded that getting institutional investors and angels to sign up during a seed round has been a tough slog.
But the idea of finally releasing a device that he would use has its own inspiration – as does the chance to finally see if he and his friends’ tales from the riding waves can carry any water.
“Sometimes you get out of the ocean and you come home and say, ‘I think I caught the best left I ever did in my life.’ At least, it feels that way but you don’t really know,” Lokshin said. “Now you do.”