Brussels-based startup Cowboy has been in the news lately for its cash burn rate. But the company wants to control its narrative again with some product and business news. Cowboy is launching a new feature called ‘AdaptivePower’, which automatically adjusts the power of the motor depending on the current slope and weather conditions.
Cowboy’s electric bikes are pretty straightforward — there is no gear and there are no + and – button to adjust the power of the motor. The company thinks riding a bike should be as easy as jumping on the saddle and putting a foot on the peddle.
But that minimalistic approach has some drawbacks. While the default power mode works fine in most cities, it’s not enough in hilly cities like San Francisco.
Instead of releasing a new bike with gears or buttons, the company is leveraging the sensors in the existing Cowboy lineup, such as the gyroscope and accelerometer. While these sensors were originally included for crash and theft detection, they can be leveraged to make the bike smarter. Based on the current torque, speed and other factors, Cowboy automatically increases the power delivery of the electric motor or reduces it.
This feature will be rolled out to Cowboy’s latest models that were released a couple of years ago — the C4 and its step-through version the C4ST. It will be an over-the-air software update. Once the update is installed, you’ll be able to choose between the ‘adaptive’ and ‘eco’ options in the mobile app for the motor power settings.
In other product news, the company is also releasing some new colors for the C4ST as you can see in the image at the bottom of this article.
New funding round at a lower valuation
In January 2022, Cowboy announced an $80 million funding round. A bit more than a year later, the company is raising more money. But it isn’t disclosing the dollar figure of this new funding round.
Of course, things have changed drastically for tech startups. VC firms aren’t deploying capital as rapidly and startup founders sometimes struggle to raise their next funding round. For a hardware company like Cowboy, supply chain issues and inflation also had some impact on the company’s margins.
A few weeks ago, Cowboy co-founder and CTO Tanguy Goretti said in a spicy LinkedIn post that the company was “in the process of closing a €15M round” (that’s $15.8 million at today’s exchange rate). From what I’ve heard, Cowboy ended up raising a bit less than that, but an equity crowdfunding part is going to round up that round.
He also added in his LinkedIn post that this recent funding round is a down round. The company’s total valuation is down by 44% compared to the previous funding round. In other words, it’s a long and windy road for Cowboy and the past few months have been more difficult than expected.
But the startup’s existing investors chose to invest more money in the company, which should improve the company’s runway right before the peak season of Cowboy sales (between March and October). After some logistics challenges a year or two ago, Cowboy’s margins are also back to where they should be.
With AdaptivePower, Cowboy can now think about other potential vehicles as well. For instance, this feature would work particularly well with cargo bikes. But there’s nothing to announce on this front for now.
“2022 has been our best year ever with €41 million in revenue and sales growing by 2.7x year over year,” co-founder and CEO Adrien Roose said in a statement. Cowboy has sold 50,000 since 2018. And 2022 wasn’t so bad at all as the company told me it managed to sell 20,000 bikes in a single year.
E-bike maker Cowboy raises new funding round and launches AdaptivePower by Romain Dillet originally published on TechCrunch
The e-bike market in America is getting a brave new player. Off the back of its $7.4 million Series A funding close, Velotric announced this week that it will be doubling down on U.S. expansion with its privately-owned e-bikes.
The new round boosts the one-year-old startup’s total financing to $12 million. The amount seems paltry compared to the $320 million that more established player Rad Power has raised, taking into account that this is a cash-intensive manufacturing business. But Velotric believes it has the secret sauce for managing cash flow while producing competitive products.
The startup, which makes premium electric bicycles for commutes and off-road adventures for under $2,000, didn’t come from nowhere. It’s the new venture of Adam Zhang, the hardware co-founder of Lime, the shared e-scooter company that is gearing up for an IPO; Xiao Xiaotao, who managed Lime’s hardware R&D; and Sun Zhen, former chief designer of Chinese ride hailing giant Didi’s shared bike program. The team also consists of former employees from leading bike brands Giant, Specialized and Decathlon.
Zhang’s co-founders at Lime are also vouching for the young startup. Brad Bao, Lime’s current CEO, and Toby Sun, the mobility company’s former CEO, both participated in Velotric’s Series A financing round. Other investors included Redpoint China Ventures, Fosun RZ Capital and Uphonest.
The investors are counting on the team’s deep experience in managing hardware design, production and supply chain for Lime in China to create a competitive edge.
“Most e-bike companies [that] raised a lot of money in the past years were way too optimistic about stock management and market growth,” Zhang tells TechCrunch.
“Given our proven experiences at Lime, we have tighter control of our supply chain compared to most of our competitors, which means more efficiency in logistics, stock management, manufacturing management, and cash management,” he continues. “These are all important factors that are key to a successful consumer business with a healthy cash flow.”
For example, it takes just 85 days from the point that Velotric places orders with factories to when it starts shipping to customers, compared to the typical cycle of 150-180 days from other plug-in bike makers, Zhang claims. It also directly manages its bikes’ core components — parts that cost more than $10 and with a lead time of more than 30 days. That means it can bypass the manufacturer to directly control the quality of bike parts and order planning.
“We also have relatively good payment terms with our suppliers so we can achieve rapid growth with less capital,” he adds.
Lastly, Velotric prides itself on its proprietary technologies, which it argues make a noticeable difference in rider experience. With half of its 74 employees working on R&D, the company develops its motor and battery management system (BMS) in-house, setting itself apart from most brands that assemble parts from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).
This suite of self-developed components, coupled with Velotric’s booster algorithm, leads to “more torque, range and power efficiency” in its bikes, Zhang claims. Velotric’s current e-bike models boast a 50% longer range than similar products on the market.
Velotric’s heavy R&D investment is likely putting a squeeze on profit margins, but the team seems pleased with its growth so far. It booked revenues of $15 million from May through December last year, selling over 10,000 units. The brand manages to attract a higher-than-average female user base — 38%, which it attributes to its more aesthetically appealing color options. About 60% of its buyers are from the age of 35 – 54.
Velotric has been selling bikes through direct-to-consumer channels like its website but is increasingly tightening ties with independent bike dealers. Between November 2022 and February 2023, its number of retail partners grew from 21 to 144. By 2023, it expects its bikes to hit the shelves of more than 600 stores in the U.S.
This e-bike brand by Lime and Didi vets pedals into the US with $12M raised by Rita Liao originally published on TechCrunch
French startup Upway has raised a $25 million Series A round led by Exor Seeds and Sequoia Capital. The company sells second-hand electric bikes that have been refurbished and are ready to roll.
In many ways, Upway reminds me of online marketplaces for cars. The startup provides a seamless experience for buyers who want to buy an electric bike but don’t want to pay the full price of a new electric bike.
Behind the scenes, Upway buys electric bikes from both consumers and companies. The team brings those bikes to its warehouse, checks them, repairs them in some cases and lists them on their website. Of course, Upway tries to generate a small margin on every sale.
In addition to Exor Seeds and Sequoia Capital, Origins is also participating in today’s round. Origins is the VC firm backed by many professional soccer players, such as Blaise Matuidi, Olivier Giroud, N’golog Kanté, as well as Antoine Dupont (a rugbyman).
Existing investor Global Founders Capital is investing once again in the startup. Henri Moissinac, the co-founder and CEO of micromobility startup Dott, is joining the round as well.
Right now, the startup operates in its home country France and Belgium. Bikes are shipped directly to customers from the same warehouse in Gennevilliers near Paris. But the company is already thinking about its next moves.
Upway will soon launch its marketplace in Germany, the Netherlands and the U.S. By the end of 2022, the company will have three different warehouses.
Sales of electric bikes have been growing rapidly in Europe. Manufacturers are benefiting from this boom, including some startups that have raised massive rounds, such as Cowboy and VanMoof . But they remain expensive goods and they also suffer from supply chain constraints.
Bikes (electric or not) will play an important role in the future of urban mobility in major European cities. That’s why it’s important to provide new ways to access bikes. Electric bikes more specifically can even replace many car rides outside of major hubs.
Some cities have invested heavily in subsidized bike-sharing services, such as Vélib’ in Paris. Some companies, like Dott, are buying thousands of electric bikes for their free-floating bike rental services.
Companies like Swapfiets and Dance are also important when it comes to democratizing electric bikes. These startups let you rent a bike for a flat monthly subscription fee. When you cancel your subscription, you hand out the bike.
Coming back to Upway, people who want to use an electric bike to go to work or ride to school may consider getting their own bike. In addition to new bikes, it’s important to provide different offerings.
Upway makes electric bikes more affordable. All bikes come with a one-year warranty and there’s no stock issue as the company only lists electric bikes that it can sell right way. Some customers can also take advantage of Alma to buy now and pay later, in multiple installments without any interest.
The startup also provides accessories, such as helmets, lights, bike locks and child seats. Eventually, you could also imagine adding some insurance product to your basket before checking out.
Overall, Upway sells 400 different models from brands like Moustache, O2feel, Keola, Veloci, Arcade, Cowboy and VanMoof. There are currently 20 million electric bikes on the European and American roads. Those millions of bikes could all end up on a second-hand marketplace like Upway. And I’m not surprised that the startup managed to raise another $25 million.
Meet Motto, a new French startup that plans to offer electric bikes in Paris. Instead of buying those bikes, Motto customers will be able to rent them for a fixed price of €75 per month (around $82 at today’s exchange rate).
Customers get Motto-branded electric bikes with a motor in the rear wheel that helps you pedal up to a speed of 25km/h. It has integrated lights, a GPS tracker and an anti-theft system. It features a carbon belt and the battery is removable.
The battery is integrated in the seat tube, meaning that you can access the battery by removing the saddle and taking it with you. There are two different models, a step-over model and a low-step model. The frame is slightly different but everything else is identical.
But Motto doesn’t want to stop at hardware. Users aren’t just renting a bike, they’re subscribing to a service. The monthly subscription fee includes damage and theft insurance, as well as on-demand maintenance and repairs.
When there’s something wrong with your Motto bike, you can open the app and request a repair within 48 hours. In the near future, Motto plans to offer a baby carrier and a front rack as subscription add-ons.
The startup has raised a $4.4 million seed round led by Cassius Family and Founders Future (€4 million). Several business angels are also participating. Before rebranding to Motto, the startup was originally called Bloom — 200 users tested the service in Paris already.
And everybody will be able to sign up and get a bike starting in April 2022. The startup will compete with other bike subscription services, such as German startup Dance, Netherlands company Swapfiets and publicly-funded service Véligo.
More importantly, the startup competes with public transportation, bike-sharing schemes and buying your own electric bike. The bike-as-a-service model provides many advantages.
First, you don’t have to pay a large sum of money upfront. Second, many bike owners don’t want to get an electric bike because of thefts. Third, many people want to make sure they can actually use a bike to commute before buying one.
For all these reasons, it’s good to see that bike-as-a-service represents another interesting option to get started with bikes. I still believe that we’re at the very start of the urban mobility revolution and people will end up using different transportation methods to get from point A to point B — especially in European cities. And many people should consider services like Motto to add an electric bike to their personal transportation mix.
Zoomo, an Australian startup that builds utility e-bikes for delivery workers, has raised an additional $20 million in equity to close out its Series B round.
In November, the company raised $60 million in equity and debt for its Series B, which it used to fund further software development and more vehicles to expand. The additional funds, which bring Zoomo’s total funding up to $101.5 million, will be used for much of the same purpose, specifically hiring more team members globally and investing into further fleet and vehicle management offerings for both mechanics and customers, as well as developing an end rider app, Mina Nada, co-founder and CEO at Zoomo, told TechCrunch.
The startup is also continuing development and rollout of its new high performance utility e-bike, the Zoomo One, and is investing in new vehicle form-factors and accessories.
Zoomo offers its e-bikes as a flexible, weekly subscription for gig workers for anywhere from $20 per week to $35 per week in the U.S., which includes servicing and support. Often those prices can be cheaper if a gig worker is signing up through a partnership with one of the app-based delivery companies like UberEats or DoorDash. It also provides fleets of e-bikes (and third-party manufactured mopeds, in some markets), as well as fleet management software, to enterprise customers like Domino’s.
Since Zoomo was founded in 2017, it has expanded to 16 cities in six countries across North America, Asia Pacific and Europe, with Spain, France and Germany being added to the list just last year. The startup says its revenue grew 4x globally and its enterprise business grew 20x in 2021, but up from what, it didn’t clarify.
“2021 was a transformative year for Zoomo, as we saw enterprises and fleet managers, in addition to gig-workers, benefit from our innovative platform,” Nada said in a statement. “2022 is the year we take the business up a gear…At Zoomo, we see a world within the next decade where every last-mile delivery will be completed on a light electric vehicle supported by the Zoomo ecosystem. Our investors will help bring us one step closer to making this a reality.”
The raise was led by Collaborative Fund, with strategic investors MUFG Innovation Partners, SG Fleet, Akuna Capital and Wind Ventures also joining the round. This is the first time Zoomo has secured strategic funding, and marks the potential for future benefitial partnerships and initiatives, particularly in Latin America and Japan – Wind is the venture capital arm of COPEC, one of LatAm’s largest energy and forestry companies, and MUFG is the corporate VCarm of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group’s Open Innovation Strategy.
Meet Upway, a French startup that is building a marketplace for second-hand electric bikes. The startup just raised a $5.7 million (€5 million) seed round from Sequoia Capital and Global Founders Capital.
If you’re familiar with the world of online marketplaces for cars, Upway will sound familiar to you as well. The company buys electric bikes from both customers and companies. They check them and repair them in case something is broken. After that, Upway lists and sells the electric bikes on its website.
Right now, the startup has a warehouse in Gennevilliers near Paris. A team of five repairpersons check each bike that arrives with a list of 20 different tests. Upway can then ship the bike to customers in a cardboard package — the handlebar and pedals are detached from the frame.
On average, bikes are 20% to 50% cheaper than their original cost. You can find products from many familiar brands in the electric bike industry, such as Moustache, VanMoof, Cowboy and Canyon. All electric bikes come with a one year warranty.
Why electric bikes and not normal bikes? Co-founder and CEO Toussaint Wattinne told me that electric bikes are the fastest growing segment of the bike industry. Last year, 500,000 electric bikes were sold in France — that’s a 30% increase compared to the previous year. And yet, due to supply chain issue, it’s not always easy to find and buy a new electric bike right now.
Moreover, there’s more friction when you buy a second-hand electric bike as you don’t know if the motor still works fine and you’re not sure if you’ll have to replace the battery when you get it. And, of course, electric bikes are expensive goods so you want a no-fuss experience.
Upway buys bikes directly, which means that it technically owns the stock of electric bikes. It’s going to be a capital-intensive startup. But many companies have thrived in the used car marketplace space. Upway could follow the same path and grow alongside the electric bike industry.
Streetlogic wants to help e-bike riders have a safer experience on the road. The company announced a $2.1 million pre-seed raise, as well as the launch of its flagship product, a surround-view camera that can predict front, side and rear collisions and notify riders in order to prevent accidents.
Starting Tuesday, customers in the U.S., Canada and Europe can pre-order Streetlogic’s advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) for e-bikes with a down payment of $30. The final retail price will be around $300 to $400, and the first batch of mass produced systems is expected for delivery by the end of 2022, according to Jonathan Denby, CEO and founder of Streetlogic. Customers based in San Francisco, where Streetlogic is based, will be eligible to try one of the systems sooner via a limited, invite-only beta deployment program beginning early next year.
Streetlogic isn’t the first to come up with a micromobility ADAS system. Last year, Israeli startup Ride Vision introduced a similar AI-based system that analyzes traffic around a rider in real time, providing forward collision alerts, blind spot monitoring and warnings for riding too close behind another vehicle. Like Streetlogic, Ride Vision’s system can also just record the ride, acting as a dashcam that saves a record of safety incidents to review later.
More recently, computer vision companies like Luna or Drover AI have developed similar tech for e-scooters that’s operated by the likes of shared micromobility operators Voi and Spin, respectively. The technology here is similar, but the target markets are different.
“The difference is that we are custom tailoring the vision system to give smart safety features to the riders, whereas they’re using the vision system to get the riders of scooters to play more nicely on city streets,” Denby told TechCrunch. “Their features are sidewalk detection or parking compliance features that the scooter operators need to show that they’re keeping riders playing nice. Ours is just all about safety of the rider themselves, like if you’re riding in traffic this gives you an early warning if there’s a car on a collision path with you so you can keep yourself safe.”
The other major difference is that Luna and Drover can connect to the scooter’s OS and take over, causing the rider to slow to a stop if they’re riding on sidewalks or inappropriately. Streetlogic’s product is strictly a collision warning system, but that can still be a very useful tool, especially in cities.
“From a safety aspect, you don’t have eyes all around you at all times – you can’t, and when you’re going to work, it’s kind of like your retreat time, so you’re often thinking, or at least for me, I’m not thinking about safety. I’m just thinking about getting to work or all the things I have to do that day,” said Taylor, one of Streetlogic’s early beta testers who rides her e-bike to work everyday, in a testimonial on the company’s website.
The number of preventable cyclist deaths in the U.S. increased 6% in 2019 from 793 in 2010 to 1,089 in 2019, and of those 843 were killed in crashes with motor vehicles. Even as e-bike sales soar, cars are still a threat to the adoption of micromobility in cities, where 78% of fatal cycling accidents happen. Consumers looking to replace their cars with e-bikes may want to ensure they’re riding something that has similar safety features, like an ADAS system.
“I have this utopian vision where I think the world would be great if there were more e-bikes on the roads and cities than cars, in general,” Denby told TechCrunch. “You need a few cars out there, but the majority can be bikes, so I think making your e-bike a more dependable tool in your daily life as your primary way to get around is the key to making that happen.”
Streetlogic’s system, which is mounted to both the front and the rear of the bike, is based on computer vision done entirely on-device. It tracks the behaviors and movements of vehicles surrounding the rider, giving an early warning if the rider is on a potential collision path with a car. The processing and alerts are all done on a completely closed loop onboard system, so it doesn’t require any connectivity to the cloud and works even if the rider is in an area with no service.
Riders will hear an audio warning first, which comes from the hardware itself and might say something like “car back” if a car is coming up quickly behind the rider, for example. There’s an accompanying visual alert on the rider’s smartphone that simply points in the direction of the potential obstacle and only requires a quick glance, but this feature only makes sense if the rider attaches their phone to a handlebar phone mount.
Drover AI and Luna have systems that can already detect objects like pedestrians and lanes, but don’t actively warn e-scooter riders about potential collisions, although given the state of their tech, it’s not outside the realm of possibility.
Alex Nesic, CEO of Drover AI, told TechCrunch e-bike warning systems make sense as a “next level” feature in the high end market, but “they’re not likely to be low cost enough for shared applications, which is what we are currently focusing on.”
It’s still early days for Streetlogic, but Denby says the tech has worked “surprisingly well” in alpha testing. The system only tracks cars for the moment because collisions or near-misses with cars are the most prevalent issues for cyclists, says Denby.
“But the nice thing about vision is then you can add more behavior to it over time,” he said. “Like it could track cyclists and pedestrians, potholes and cracks on the road, animals running out into the street. These are all things we can build into it over time. Even starting with just cars, we’ve covered the vast majority of incidents.”
Streetlogic will have to collect more data to train its ML models on so that it can build in those detections. That’s in large part what the funding is for. The pre-seed round, which comes from LDV Capital, Trucks Venture Capital and angel investors like Luc Vincent, Lyft’s former EVP of autonomous driving, will be used to scale the team, according to the company. The startup currently has six full time staffers after hiring two additional team members last week, but is hoping to expand its payroll so that it can both deliver on preorders and have the capacity to add maturity to the system.
“We’ve got an awesome team of super hard hitters from Apple and Uber on the hardware side and then Cruise on the software side,” said Denby.
Denby himself came from Uber where he advised on computer vision systems for the company’s Jump scooters, which were later purchased by Lime, and he also led the team that built the Rylo 360 degree action camera.
While Streetlogic is launching as a B2C product to get off the ground quickly, the company would like to pursue integrations with bike manufacturers in the future.
E-bike manufacturer VanMoof recently raised a $128 million funding round. And the company is already using some of that cash to develop a brand new product — the VanMoof V. This is a new product in the VanMoof lineup, a high-speed bike.
The VanMoof V isn’t available just yet. Instead, the company teased the new bike in a live YouTube video. The company plans to release the VanMoof V by the end of 2022. It should cost approximately $3,598, €3,498 or £2,998 according to the landing pages on VanMoof’s website.
What you get for that price is an electric bike with two motors — one in the front wheel and one in the rear wheel. There are two suspension systems at the front and at the back of the vehicle to help you with uneven streets. The VanMoof V also features thick tires for increased safety.
According to the YouTube video, the bike can reach a top speed of 60 km/h (37 mph). But if you have an e-bike already, you know that there are regulations when it comes to motor assistance for bikes. In Europe, an e-bike cannot travel faster than 25 km/h (15.5 mph). In the U.S., that limitation depends on each state but is still lower than the VanMoof V top speed.
It doesn’t mean that you can’t ride faster than that. It means that the motor will stop assisting you if you reach the top speed of your jurisdiction. The company is already saying that the VanMoof V won’t help you break the law.
“When we first started imagining what the V could become, we very soon agreed it’s about a whole new approach to how we use the roads. The VanMoof V will have integrated speed settings to match your country’s regulations. However, this bike has the technology and capacity to hit speeds up to 60 kilometers per hour or 37 miles per hour. As it stands, local regulations across the world cap the top speed of this category. But in the long term, we need much bigger thinking,” VanMoof co-founder and CEO Ties Carlier said during the announcement.
“In our vision, current policy is limiting the adoption of this type of transportation. We’re calling for policies designed for people instead of cars. That’s why we will work with city governments to explore geofencing and push for modernized speed regulations,” he added.
In other words, the VanMoof V should be considered as a concept bike to share VanMoof’s vision, as well as a lobbying vehicle for policymakers around the world. The company had to share its plans in advance because you don’t need a two-wheel drive to reach 25 km/h.
Having said that, VanMoof is sending invitations to a group of VanMoof customers and crowdfunders. These invitations let you reserve a VanMoof V with a $20 reservation deposit. Reservations start today with a potential release date of late 2022.
Eurazeo is leading today’s funding round. HV Capital and BlueYard are also investing, as well as Dave Morin and James Higa from Offline Ventures, Nicolas Berggruen, Roxanne Varza and Verena Pausder.
As a reminder, Dance has designed its own e-bike called the Dance One. It features a carbon belt, hydraulic discs, an integrated smartphone mount and a detachable battery with an expected range of 55 km.
Customers don’t buy the bike directly. Instead, you can subscribe for €79 per month (around $93 at today’s exchange rate). After that, it’s a no-fuss experience. If you have a flat tire or another issue with your bike, Dance can send a mechanic to fix it for you.
There are no long-term commitments, which means that you can rent a Dance bike for a couple of months or several years. It can be a great offering for people who don’t bike regularly already. This way, they can see if they feel like riding a bike over the long run before buying their own bike.
Now that the bike design is ready, the startup has to roll out its service. It’s just the beginning as there are “hundreds” of Dance e-bikes in the streets of Berlin right now.
But today’s funding round will be helpful as the company plans to double the size of its team with new hires in operations and engineering. Dance will expand to more cities across Europe starting in 2022.