Cowboy raises $80 million to kick its e-bike business into high gear – TechCrunch

The pandemic has spurred a boom in e-bikes and other alternative modes of urban transportation as city dwellers seek less congested ways to get around their streets quickly and easily without resorting to cars. Today, one of the companies that has benefited from this trend is announcing a major fundraising to expand its business. Cowboy, a Brussels-based startup that makes e-bikes and an accompanying app to run various services related to them, raised $80m in a Series C funding round.

Exor, HCVC and Siam Capital co-led the investment, with participation from Tiger Global, Index Ventures, Eothen, Isomer Opportunities Fund, Future Positive Capital and Triple Point Capital. Cowboy – which has raised $120 million to date – is not disclosing its valuation, or any sales figures, but it says it is on track to hit 100,000 runners by 2023.

Adrien Roose, CEO and co-founder of Cowboy, said he was inspired to build the startup based on three different experiences. His former business, food delivery start-up Take Eat Easy (which eventually closed), relied heavily on cyclists for deliveries; these were mostly done on conventional push bikes, which meant that some accepted offset was working in the startup’s logistics network. Separately, Roose visited his grandfather and saw that he was using an electric bicycle to get around. As a cyclist himself, Roose viewed e-bikes as exactly that: practical but ugly vehicles for older people who couldn’t ride and lacked the strength of conventional bicycles. His a-ha moment was when he realized that these e-bikes could have helped his bike delivery network run faster, while contributing to a better environment in the city as a whole, compared to the motorcycles or cars that were otherwise used for delivery.

“It took me a while to realize that e-bikes could become popular not just with older people,” he said. “The electrification of the bicycle has made cycling more accessible to everyone.”

Roose and his co-founders Karim Slaoui (VP of Hardware of Cowboy) and Tanguy Goretti (CTO of Cowboy) set out to design a bike that would appeal to a different type of consumer, a younger city dweller. Cowboy designs its bikes from the ground up — a stark difference, Roose said, compared to many others on the market who might design the frame but then buy components from third parties. Cowboy bikes are known for their clean brushed metal lines and relatively light weight (a Cowboy bike weighs around 19 kg, comparable to its close rival Van Moof); their low-profile battery placement (it’s a long tube that in turn locks into the back of the seat tube); and 70 km range.

Cowboy now has two models of its gearless e-bikes for sale, the C3 and C4 (priced at £2,490; just under $3,000).

In addition to the bikes, Cowboy has developed an app that you use with the bike which provides a range of free bike related services such as route planning, bike tracking, diagnostics and the ability to track your own progress and compare them to other Cowboy cyclists. in your city.

The plan is to use the funds to invest in three areas.

First, Cowboy wants to continue developing the technology on the bikes themselves. One area where Cowboy CEO and co-founder Adrien Roose said he would like to see movement is for these bikes to come down in price over time.

“It’s been on my mind since the day we started because we want to accelerate the transition to cycling and if you spend thousands of dollars on a bike it starts to become one of the most expensive purchases a customer can. To do.” Originally, he said, the aim was to sell the bikes for less than £1,000, although the complexity of designing them from scratch has meant prices have risen to be much more than that. Now, as the business scales, it has the ability to use it to reduce the price over time.

Secondly, Cowboy plans to add more services and features to its app, which is shaping up to be a separate revenue stream for the company with the recent addition of paid services such as insurance, disaster recovery crash and “Cowboy Care”, a bicycle repair and maintenance service currently available in 22 cities. It is also a circular economy model, where Cowboy owners can sell used Cowboy bikes on the startup’s platform.

And third, Cowboy wants to hire more talent to run the first two points and expand into more markets. The business expanded into the United States in 2021, and although Europe now represents the majority of Cowboy’s business, North America is growing rapidly, which is likely to be one of the main areas for hiring and business expansion.

“While global efforts to combat climate change have led to growing support for the decarbonisation of urban mobility, the need for more sustainable modes of transport has never been more evident, especially in this era of conscious consumers. By combining best-in-class hardware, software and subscription services to deliver an elevated experience, Cowboy is uniquely positioned to become a leader in making e-bikes that are not only accessible but also ambitious. be more excited to partner with them as they continue to bring their mission to market,” Sita Chantramonklasri of Siam Capital said in a statement.

Cowboy cites estimates that call for $50 billion in e-bike sales over the next six years, but that will include a wide plethora of brands and business models. Indeed, Cowboy competes in the market not only against other modes of transport and other e-bike manufacturers: there has also been a massive proliferation of e-bike rental platforms like Uber and others. It’s becoming a compelling way for more casual consumers to use e-bikes without making the significant investment to buy one.

Roose says he sees shared ownership and on-demand readers as a boost to Cowboy’s business.

“I deeply believe that bike-sharing platforms have helped us tremendously in educating the market on what an e-bike is, in understanding the value it can bring to you,” he said. “As frankly, we are not in direct competition. I use my bike but also rent it by the minute for short trips on the go. It’s a very different use case.

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