E-bikes at the forefront of future urban mobility
“Sustainability is no longer about doing less harm. It’s about doing more good.”
Technology continues to advance at a rapid pace in today’s ever-changing world. By laying the foundation for tremendous innovation, a new, innovative, high-tech mobility ecosystem has emerged, the so-called micro-mobility. City dwellers already have fully appreciated the benefits of so-called “green” vehicles like electric bicycles or e-bikes.
The environmental rationale, the changing lifestyles and needs of urban dwellers, and improved transportation schemes have led to a new era in the green mobility industry and a skyrocketing demand for truly sustainable and affordable mobility. It’s easy to see why.
More than one-fifth of all CO2 emissions worldwide are from cars. You can’t say the same about the electric bike, which can reduce these indicators, including reducing traffic congestion and making the ride more comfortable. The above pros of electric bicycles include benefits for the environment, health, space, and cost savings.
Although the micro-mobility industry, like other technology industries, was hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, experts say the global micro-mobility market will reach $ 150 billion by 2025.
Let’s find out what our interviewee, the Co-founder of the Cowboy startup and one of the creators of the innovative electric bike, Karim Slaoui, shared with us about the trends of switching to “green” mobility and e-bikes, in particular. We discussed not only the idea of the Cowboy emergence and the relevance of the transition to sustainable mobility of a new generation but, of course, aspects of launching and developing a tech startup. Orange Sputnik, as always, is about the most interesting and exciting in the tech world.
About Cowboy Startup
“Cowboy’s main goal is to improve urban mobility and take commuters to their destination in a more enjoyable, sustainable, and efficient manner,” said one of the startup’s social networks.
We instead asked Karim to define their startup as a whole, and he stated the following: “Cowboy is an e-bike mobility solution for urban riders.”
We indeed became curious to know the backstory of the startup, and the Cowboy’s co-founder was happy to share with us, revealing from where the idea of creating a company and their product appeared.
“When we started, there was a kind of prejudice that electric bicycles are for older people. For example, in Belgium, the average age of purchasers was over 65 years,” highlighted our interviewee.
He explained their intentions further. “Cowboy aims to change how people move around, especially in urban areas. We strongly believe that cars have very little space in the cities and the most efficient way to move around is an electric bike. So, our goal was to create e-bikes for a younger audience – easy to use vehicles with a hotshot design for an affordable price,” stated our interviewee.
“Our goal was to create e-bikes for a younger audience – easy to use vehicles with a hotshot design for an affordable price.”
To learn on the fly
After discussing the main direction of the company’s activity and its background, we moved on to the second part of our interview and asked Karim a question regarding the aspect of the idea, or rather why our interviewee decided to launch a startup in the micro-mobility industry?
“Before we started Cowboy, I had no experience in e-bikes,” confessed Karim. He continued: “I am an engineer, but I’ve studied applied mathematics, which is not very close to mechanics or electrical systems. So, for me, it was more about the idea to enter the market of e-bikes and to learn on the fly.”
Then the Co-founder of Cowboy shared with us unique insight confirming that nothing is impossible, and the main thing is the desire to bring something new to the market: “Actually, we started a company without having a product or even a prototype. First six months, we were learning the market, trying to understand in what way we can create value for the customers.”
As much as you want to focus on the revolutionary success of Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, or Steve Jobs, the first thing you should do before starting a business is to find a business idea that is realistic and viable in the first place. You may not be confident in its success, but your product/service idea must have value for your customers above all.
“First six months, we were learning the market, trying to understand in what way we can create value for the customers.”
A conversation about funding or how does the network work?
It’s no exaggeration to say that fundraising is one of the most monumental aspects of starting a startup. But no matter how significant a step it may seem, many entrepreneurs, unfortunately, do not use all available resources to find the right investors and rely on luck.
In our conversation with Karim, we came to one of the most interesting questions for our audience and, of course, decided to find out how the startup Cowboy coped with the search for investments.
“I am not a first-time founder. Earlier, one of Cowboy’s co-founders and I created a food delivery company called Take it Easy. So when we launched Cowboy, we’ve already had a great experience and a lot of contacts with investors,” our interviewee stressed the need for a business network. He explained his vision: “Basically, thanks to the previous experience and the existing network, it was enough for us to have a slight idea to raise Pre-seed funding.”
The investment conversation got us thinking about how important it is for investors to understand and see what your startup represents clearly. Karim confirmed our thoughts and said the following: “But if you are a first-time founder, you need a lot of effort to find the right investor. You have to go to people, talk with them, convince them, show them the benefits of your idea/product/service. For us, it worked differently, as we already had a lot of people who knew us and trusted us.”
“Basically, thanks to the previous experience and the existing network, it was enough for us to have a slight idea to raise Pre-seed funding.”
The Cowboy app and crucial help of remote software developers
According to experts, in 2021 and 2022, against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and forced social distancing measures, hiring remote employees will become necessary and more profitable. What is the advantage? Remote workers, including remote software developers, enjoy flexible working hours, add variety to the company’s work environment, and reduce costs.
We, of course, found out from Karim what he thinks about hiring remote developers and asked him to tell us about the Cowboy app and its functionality.
“One of the co-founders, who is a technical guy himself, developed the website. But once we wanted to update and optimize it, we used the help of external resources,” shared our interviewee with us. He noticed: “We still hire remote developers to do the work related to front-end development.”
He moved to the app question: “Basically, our app allows you to turn the bike on/off, track how many kilometers you’ve done and the location of your bike, for example, if it was stolen.” Karim added: “Also, you can check the state of health of your bike. So if you have any issues, you can contact our tech team through the app.”
There are many reports in the news lately, from preventing a pandemic to easing hyper urbanization. Therefore, it is not surprising that business experts point to workplace flexibility as the most important topic of future work.
Sustainable mobility is the way of making business
A fact: 9 out of 10 startuppers-beginners ask themselves how to choose a suitable business model.
Why did we mention this? The next aspect of the development of a startup Cowboy, which we decided to discuss with Karim, is the business model and customers.
“We offer both B2B and B2C, but right now, we are focused on B2C mostly,” stated the Co-founder of Cowboy. He continued his answer and added the following: “We are an international company, and our customers can make a purchase in Belgium, France, UK, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, Italy, and Spain. So basically we offer an electric bike which we consider a mobility solution to as many people as we can.”
The challenge for a business model is to reflect how the business operates at all levels, but most importantly, how it drives sales and profits.
“Sustainability has to be a way of life to be a way of business.”
Demand for green mobility
Moving on to the next stage of the interview, we asked Karim about the relevance of their product and why now is the perfect time for a Cowboy startup to exist.
“We can see that there is a big demand for, let’s say, ‘green mobility. Electric bikes are a great solution and efficient alternative to electric cars (they are cheaper to produce, easier to use, and so on) for people living, especially in urban areas,” stated the Co-founder of Cowboy.
From fossil energy to electricity, from gasoline to green mobility – changes are taking place in the evolution of technology and the way we use it. Eco-friendly, efficient, intuitive – this is how the transport of the future should be. And that’s precisely what the Cowboy e-bike offers you.
“Electric bikes are a great solution and efficient alternative to electric cars for people living, especially in urban areas.”
Diversity and dedication to a startup’s matter
Many startups underestimate the importance of having a solid team of motivated specialists who will put your startup to a level where competitors cannot get it. Startups that hire the best minds tend to create incredible products that turn out to be truly disruptive in the marketplace.
What does our interviewee think about this? We asked Karim’s opinion on the Cowboy startup team.
“When I think about my team, the very first thought is how everyone is motivated and stands behind the project. Everyone in Cowboy believes in what they are doing, what drives them to give 110% of effort to succeed,” proudly stated our interviewee. He also highlighted the following idea: “Another great thing about the Cowboy’s team is diversity – we have people coming from all over the world: US, Europe, Asia.”
“Everyone in Cowboy believes in what they are doing, what drives them to give 110% of effort to succeed.”
Three most significant success metrics for a Cowboy startup
“What’s measured improves.”
The following key aspect that we decided to discuss with the Co-founder of the startup Cowboy was success metrics. After all, whatever one may say, key performance indicators are an integral part of the success of any business and allow you to measure the effectiveness of your company and receive and analyze information that will help increase profits. Karim highlighted the three most significant indicators they are focusing on at the moment.
“Obviously, the first metric is sales; I mean the number of bikes that we have sold within a specific amount of time,” stated Karim. He continued: The second is an app. How many people use it, how efficient it is, and so on.”
Our interviewee highlighted the last point: “And another metric is quality, of course, I mean how many people are satisfied with their bike, and how many customers have issues with it.”
Business is not one-dimensional, so to get an accurate picture of what is happening at the current moment in time, it is necessary to measure several indicators and observe how they interact and affect each other. This way, you can always see what works and what doesn’t. Otherwise, you can make bad decisions both in the short term and in the long term.
Follow the traction to succeed
Motivation is what gives you the strength to move forward. When it comes to startup development, most young entrepreneurs follow traction. Of course, we asked Karim what is the most exciting about his traction, as a co-founder and Cowboy startup executive, to date?
“What is very interesting is that the e-mobility market is growing quite quickly. But we are growing faster than the market itself. Right now, we are on a track to double our revenue,” shared our interviewee with us.
“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.”
Winston S. Churchill
“That’s the plan!”
The only question that nearly all business experts agree on is the critical need for growth for the long-term survival of a startup. Growth and profitability are indicators that allow a startup to remain successful and maintain (and often even increase) attractiveness for investors and potential customers.
Summing up the discussion of business development aspects with the Сo-founder of the startup Cowboy, we asked Karim about their plans for the future.
“We want to develop and bring to the market new models of electric bikes,” stated our interviewee. He explained: “Currently, we are selling only one model, and it’s pretty sporty, but we want to scale and target more people. That’s the plan!”
“We want to develop and bring to the market new models of electric bikes.”
Challenges on the road to startup’s success
On more than one occasion, we’ve said that starting a startup is an exhilarating process that is sure to present you with a challenge you never knew existed. Of course, it is impossible to be prepared for all the difficulties on the road to success, but you can prepare for the unexpected and thus avoid common mistakes one way or another.
At the end of our discussion of business aspects, we asked Karim the last question about the difficulties and threats that can await them during the development of a Cowboy startup.
“I guess in terms of entrepreneurship, our biggest threat is ourselves because there are too many ways to screw up,” the Co-founder of Cowboy surprised us with his answer. However, he continued and gave his fuller vision on this matter: “We have to think about the quality and keep it good because if we reduce the quality, we can lose the brand name,” emphasized Karim. Our interviewee added a few more thoughts on the money aspect: “Also we have to keep an eye on the amount of money we spend on the development and invest in the technology depending on our sales.”
In the end, he noticed: “I don’t think that competition and competitors is our biggest threat at the moment. But we have to be mindful of it in the future.”
“I guess in terms of entrepreneurship, our biggest threat is ourselves because there are too many ways to screw up.”
Coming to the end of the interview, we asked Karim some personal questions, and of course, we asked about where he gets his inspiration from and who inspires him as a leader.
The answer of our interviewee made us understand that Karim and his team know exactly what level they are striving for and how to reach it.
“I would say that Apple and Tesla are two companies that I follow very closely because we want to bring our technology and product to their level,” stated our interviewee.
As always, the last question of our interview with the Co-founder of Cowboy was about advice he, as an experienced entrepreneur, can share with our readers.
“I always say that the idea is worth nothing unless it’s executed,” stated Karim. He explained his vision: “Having an idea is just 2% of success, but executing is 98%. So don’t be afraid someone can steal it; go and talk to people. In this way, you will manage the execution and will find out what are your next steps.”
“Having an idea is just 2% of success, but executing is 98%.”
Driving towards tomorrow
Just like Arnold Schwarzenegger once said: “The future is green energy, sustainability, renewable energy.” And we, of course, cannot disagree with him.
Innovative green transport technologies such as e-bicycles are increasingly featured prominently in the debate about the transition to sustainable urban development. This is not surprising since creating a sustainable urban future requires a significant reduction in the burden on the environment and society caused by transport, in particular cars. Constant innovation and tech disruption require clean fuels, renewable electricity, and, more precisely, sustainable, innovative, and intelligent mobility.