Home / Tech News / Belgium’s Cowboy raises $3M led by Index to launch a smarter e-bike

Belgium’s Cowboy raises $3M led by Index to launch a smarter e-bike

Cowboy, the startup that’s constructing a brand new, smarter digital bicycle, quietly launched in its house nation of Belgium this previous week, while concurrently disclosing it has raised $three million in seed funding.

Notably, the spherical is led by Index Ventures. The London and San Francisco-based VC seems to be notably bullish on electric-powered mobility, just lately backing electrical scooter startup Bird.

France’s Hardware Club, and Kima Ventures additionally participated in Cowboy’s seed spherical, together with particular person traders Thibaud Elziere (eFounders), Bertrand Jelensperger (LaFourchette), Harold Mechelynck (Ogone), Frederic Potter (Netatmo) and Francis Nappez (BlaBlaCar).

Founded by Adrien Roose and Karim Slaoui, who each beforehand co-founded Take East Easy, an early Deliveroo competitor, and Tanguy Goretti, who was beforehand co-founder ride-sharing startup Djump, Cowboy has set out to build and sell a better designed e-bike that it claims addresses points which have traditionally held again the class’s mass attraction. This features a extra elegant design than many current fashions at the moment in the marketplace, making the bike ‘sensible’ by being related to a cell phone and ‘over the air’ by means of mobile and GPS networks, and higher affordability than comparative choices.

In a name final week, Roose gave me a short run down of the Cowboy’s options and a little bit of the product’s again story, together with how Index received . He says he first turned conscious of e-bikes (or “ped-elec” bikes that mix a guide pedal and electrical motor) after being puzzled that they weren’t extra extensively utilized by Take Eat Easy’s bicycle couriers. Riders that did use an e-bike tended to be older, suggesting that present e-bikes didn’t attraction to a youthful demographic.

After researching the market rather a lot deeper, Cowboy’s eventual founders additionally seen that the majority e-bikes use fully off the shelf elements, which not solely constrains differentiation, but additionally worth, since many of the margin goes to elements suppliers and retailers. By designing a totally new e-bike, the place the physique and mind is bespoke — specifically, the chassis/battery, and printed circuit board (PCB) — and the place the product is offered direct on-line, the staff believed there was a possibility to re-define the e-bike class fully.

The ensuing Cowboy e-bike is pitched as a greater trip, powered by “intuitive and automatic motor assistance”. This makes use of built-in sensor expertise that measures pace and torque, and adjusts to pedalling fashion and pressure to ship an added increase of motor-assisted pace at key moments e.g. while you begin pedalling, while you speed up, or go uphill.

In addition, the Cowboy it trying to be safer due to its connectivity. You unlock the bike through the Cowboy sensible telephone app, which additionally helps on-board navigation and a knowledge dashboard that tracks pace and different helpful stats.

It can be price noting that that is positively a vertical platform within the longer-run. That IoT-styled SIM card and GPS have been added to the e-bike for a cause. Initially it will likely be used for diagnostics and ‘discover my bike’ in case of theft, however one can simply think about different premium providers being provided on prime, resembling bike insurance coverage maybe.

The battery is alleged to be good to go for round 50km, and takes 2.5 hours to completely cost. As a part of the bespoke design, it’s built-in into the body beneath the saddle and is well detachable. The Cowboy claims to be one of many lightest city electrical bikes in the marketplace, too (the bike and battery collectively weigh 16kg).

However, as with every product the place it’s in the end concerning the trip, you most likely must strive a Cowboy earlier than really appreciating it — which, as a powered wheelchair person with restricted muscle power, I’m by no means going to have the ability to do. Instead, I’ll observe {that a} pre-production mannequin — which Roose admits nonetheless had many remaining points to iron out — received the distinguished EuroBike commerce truthful in July 2017.

He additionally echoes this sentiment after I ask him to inform the story of how the Cowboy staff first received the eye of Index Ventures. He says that the startup weren’t initially planning to lift a big seed spherical, having already received a dedication from Cowboy’s unique backers for sufficient follow-on funding to do a manufacturing run and small launch in Belgium. However, realizing that {hardware} is, properly, laborious, and that prices can simply overshoot, the corporate was advised by Hardware Club (who he says has been instrumental in making Cowboy a actuality) to discover a bigger VC backer to mitigate this threat. Index Partner Martin Mignot, who led the spherical, was instantly after which satisfied after really attempting the e-bike, however Roose says that it took much more to influence the remainder of the Index staff to again Cowboy when he subsequently pitched the startup over a video name.

Which brings us to Cowboy’s go-to-market technique. If you actually need to the touch the system to actually respect it, how will the startup promote instantly on-line? In Brussels, Roose says the startup is experimenting with recruiting product ambassadors — individuals who have already got a Cowboy of their possession — who will be capable to carry the system to a potential purchaser to strive beforehand. This isn’t as scalable as a pure digital advertising and marketing effort, however continues to be possible rather a lot cheaper than promoting to bodily retailers, which in flip would push up the €1,790 worth. Meanwhile, the corporate is just delivering to Belgium for now, however with capital within the financial institution it plans to launch extra extensively in Europe subsequent 12 months.

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