What do you get if you cross a skateboard with Rollerblades? If you're Ryan Farrelly, it's a new sport and a startup that could pull in $5.5 million in revenue this year. Farrelly, 29, invented Freeline Skates in 2002 while bumming around from one odd job to the next, surfing in the morning and skating at night. The skates are like a polished metal skateboard that has been cut in two, with the wheels mounted sideways. Riders balance one foot on each half. He then spent three years living on friends' couches as he and surfing buddy Jason Galoob tinkered with the design and raised money for a first batch of 500 skates. Based in Carlsbad, Calif., Freeline Sports sold 5,000 pairs in 2006, and 20,000 in 2007, thanks largely to buyers in South Korea and Japan. He predicts sales of 40,000 this year, at $134 a set, through freelineskates.com
or 40 sports shops mostly in California. Farrelly says he has turned down Wal-Mart Stores as a retail outlet. Why? Bad for Freeline's street cred.
—Albert Sun (posted on October 21, 2008)