Startup Of The Week: Rubbee
We are thrilled to introduce you Rubbee – our startup of the week. This startup has received a huge success for their product on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter. Gediminas Nemanis – CEO and founder of Rubbee answered all the burning questions.
Hi Gediminas! Please tell us more, what is Rubbee? How it works?
Gediminas: What we created is a first truly off-the-shelf solution to make any bike electric. No wiring, no extensive knowledge of tools or electronics required. Really, a plug and play option for e-biking. Rubbee X works by providing electric assist directly to the rear tire via an electric friction roller. It has modular batteries to extend the rides, regenerative braking and not a single wire. We track the pedaling pattern by attaching a small wireless sensor to the pedal crank (BT low energy chip with accelerometer), this way we know when and how much additional support to provide to the rider in real time. No buttons to push, just pedal and your power will be multiplied 2-3 times. It’s a pure electric assist system.
Do you have any competitors? What are your competitive advantages?
Gediminas: Our competitors are other conversion kits that retrofit excising bicycles and make the electric. Our main difference is the flat-out easiest installation on the market. No wires to install, just clip the Rubbee on and enjoy your e-bike !
(photo by Rubbee)
What were the reasons behind coming up with this idea and launching this product?
Gediminas: There are over 300M regular bicycles in Europe alone. But less than 8% are actually being used as a regular form of transport. The vast majority of them are stuck in garages and basements where they gather dust until an occasional recreational rides comes along. We want to change that. We want to bring those bicycles back to the streets where they belong by making them an electric form of daily transport.
When did you launch, what were the main challenges before launching?
Gediminas: Our first introduction to the market was back in 2013 via the Kickstarter platform. The main challenge was to get the media interested in our product to get the traffic needed. We were a never-before heard company from Lithuania and it took quite a lot of convincing of media to get the wheels spinning (pun intended).
What are main challenges while working on this product?
Gediminas: Rubbee is a hardware product and of course as many hardware companies would say – production launch and managing financials are the hardest parts of the business. It’s not like you sell software where you get measurable monthly income and get paid as soon as you sell. In hardware you have to have the money to manufacture the product in the first place to have stock, then you sell it to retailers and when THEY sell it only then you get paid. So it takes a lot of planning to get the money part right and stay afloat
(photo by Rubbee)
How are you funded?
Gediminas: We’ve used angel investors, EU funds, crowdfunding and venture capital to get the funding. Pretty much every trick in the book.
Congratulations, you’ve reached your Kickstarter campaign goal in 14 hours! What do you think were the main factors that helped you launch a successful campaign? And what are your plans after the campaign ends?
Gediminas: Kickstarter is just a small part in the whole business development strategy we have. We’ve used Kickstarter platform for the second time to introduce our brand new flagship product – the Rubbee X. Good campaign starts with great pre-campaigning. You have to gather as much crowd as possible (emails of that crowd to be exact) to get you through the first days and get as high as possible in the Kickstarter’s trending page. You get tons of organic traffic that way. We also accept B2B orders from our partners around the word so we know how big of a first batch we have to manufacture of the new Rubbee X. After that – it’s all about launching the production line with our manufacturing partners.
(video by Rubbee)
Please introduce your founders, your core team and your broader team.
Gediminas: Gediminas Nemanis – CEO and founder. Bachelor in Mechatronics and Master’s degree in Marketing Management.
Regularly consults new startups regarding crowdfunding, project management and product development matters. MTB rider and ex-BMX rider. Maker and builder of drones, planes, RC cars and all things electric. Build a jet engine and an electric hovercraft.
Laurynas Jokuzis – CTO and co-founder Bachelor in electronics. The best electric drive systems specialist in the Baltics. Chairman of Lithuania’s electric vehicle association. Also works in developing a 7T hybrid commercial trucks. Built over 10 different electric vehicles and is the manager of Elinta Motors division.
Mindaugas Bliujus – Lead Mechanical Engineer Master’s degree in mechanical engineering. Designed multiple products that are now sold on the market. Engineered 3D laser scanners, charging stations, grippers for industrial robots and frames for off-road electric bicycles.
Other team members include Karolis Rudaitis and Nerijus Budreckis (electronics engineers), Mangirdas Janušaitis , Gediminas Narbutas (software engineers) and many other great people in design, marketing, logistics, manufacturing R&D etc..
How has business been so far?
Gediminas: The numbers are not spectacular so far because we treated the previous versions of the product like a solid market research to find out the needs of the customers and build a sales network. We’ve sold over 600 units that way in over 45 countries. The Rubbee X is designed to bring the product to mass markets with expanded features, even greater user experience and reduced pricing.
Future plans, ambitions? Simply speaking – what’s next?
Gediminas: Flood the shelves of consumer electronics stores all over Europe for the coming riding season and later get into year-round markets like North America and Australia.
Thank you for your time Gediminas! Good luck with Rubbee!