To make commuting in and around the city centre by car easier, young entrepreneurs Adrien Rose, Karim Slaoui (founders of meal delivery service Take Eat Easy) and Tanguy Goretti (founder of car sharing service Djump) launched the Belgian startup COWBOY: an affordable, smart e-bike for city dwellers. Productize’s Internet of Things experts helped to make the COWBOY bicycle’s release in early 2018 extra memorable.
How do you keep cars out of the city centre? It didn’t take entrepreneurs Adrien Rose, Karim Slaoui and Tanguy Goretti long to come up with an answer to that question: their COWBOY, a smart e-bike with a removable battery, built-in app and digital key, offers city dwellers the perfect alternative transport option.
E-bikes have been around in Belgium for a while, so what makes COWBOY different? “COWBOY isn’t just another e-bike. The price tag, look and feel and the near-weightless design make this model truly unique”, Tanguy explains. “The e-bikes that are currently on the market are sold for steep prices – on average, they cost between 2000 and 5000 euros. The reason is simple: most developers buy various parts from external producers, which results in high distribution costs. We’ve developed all parts ourselves and sell our COWBOYs exclusively online. This helps us keep our costs low, which in turn lowers the retail price”, Tanguy continues. “We also paid meticulous attention to the design. The average e-bike is clunky and looks bland, so we gave COWBOY a streamlined, elegant and athletic look.” This sporty look is especially popular with men, Tanguy adds: “Our target audience are people between 25 and 45 years old, who work or live in the city. We mostly see men riding a COWBOY bicycle to work in cities like Antwerp, Brussels, Ghent, Namur and Liège.” And because COWBOY e-bikes are meant to propose an alternative to cars, they must be comfortable: “The average e-bike is heavy, but the COWBOY is exceptionally light, which makes daily commuting trips much more agreeable.”
The rugged-looking COWBOY’s design and high-tech development were challenging, to say the least. The innovative bicycle comes equipped with a connected and removable battery, a digital key, built-in lights and an app to connect the bicycle with a smartphone. That app includes a live dashboard, navigation, a GPS tracking system and statistics to transform every bicycle ride into an unparallelled experience. However, integrating all this smart technology in one bicycle frame requires a great deal of skill and experience with the Internet of Things market. That’s where Productize came in: their expertise and flexible approach were highly appreciated.
“No one on the COWBOY team knew a lot about IoT, so we decided to work with IoT company Productize for the creative thinking and design aspects.” Productize’s engineers developed the bicycle’s ‘brain’: they were responsible for developing the hardware, writing the firmware and they assisted COWBOY during the entire concept development process. Productize didn’t just develop the first prototypes, they also took the bikes for test rides. Many, many test rides. Until the total package was perfect. Tanguy is pleased with their collaboration: “Productize’s biggest advantage is without a doubt their flexibility. Thanks to the constant dialogue and flawless communication with their team, we were able to make our tight deadlines and execute several testing rounds. Everything revolves around trust, which is exactly what Productize inspired.”
Now, the COWBOYs are raring to keep innovating. “Even before the official product launch, we received an award at Eurobike, Europe’s biggest bicycle fair”, Tanguy says. This encouraged the team to take things to a new level: “We’ve recently raised 10 million euros. We’ll use that money to invest in new features and to expand internationally – to the Netherlands, Germany, France, and the UK. The most important thing is to always stay one step ahead”, Tanguy concludes.
Productize’s main advantage is flexibility. Thanks to the constant dialogue with their team, we made our tight deadlines.