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Cowboy, a new Belgium-based bicycle startup that mixes design and technology to connect owners to their bikes through an app has raised €2.4M ($3M) seed investment. The round was led by London- and San Francisco-based Index Ventures. Other investors include France’s Hardware Club and Kima Ventures and individual investors.
Cowboy was founded by Adrien Roose and Karim Slaoui. Both founders previously started restaurant food delivery company ‘Take Eat Easy’. The startup closed shop as it ran out of money and underwent ‘juridical restructuring’. It was never an easy market as Adrien and Karim’s previous startup was competing against established players like London-based Deliveroo, Delivery Hero’s Foodora, and Uber’s UberEATs.
The third founder of Cowboy is Tanguy Goretti, CEO of ridesharing app Djump. The app closed shop and joined Chauffeur-Privé, a professional limo-style French car service. So, all three founders have got experience.
Here are some ways how Cowboy plans to differentiate itself from the market competitors.
#1 Cowboy is trying to fill in the gap
Cowboy’s e-Bike is priced at €1,790 and the startup directly sells the bicycle to customers via its official website. Electronic bicycles already exist in the market but there were a couple of gaps that Cowboy’s founders wanted to fill.
Firstly, most e-bikes used ‘over-the-shelf’ components making the bicycle less attractive in terms of design. Secondly, e-bikes were more costly because manufacturers didn’t own the supply chain.
That’s where Hardware Club, a community-based venture fund that helps hardware founders advised Cowboy to raise a bigger seed round and to own the supply chain ( design, engineering, and industrialisation) rather than outsourcing parts of it.
#2 Cowboy is up against established players
Cowboy founders have again picked up a niche that’s already dominated by players like Van Moof, Spanish Orbea Gain, and Coboc. Van Moof also has a direct-to-consumer business model and they’re selling e-Bikes for $798 each and their bikes also have bells and whistles like a connected mobile app to make the bike theft-safe.
#3 Cowboy won the Eurobike trade fair in July 2017
The startup is trying to win the hearts and minds of customers and potential partners by being at the forefront of design and engineering of e-bikes. Recently, the company won prestigious Eurobike ‘Startup winner’ in July 2017. Such accolades can help the startup stay afloat and prove its business model as well as innovation such as price, design, weight and embedded technology in the e-bikes market.
The founding team is heavily betting on its ‘online sales’ model. In an interview with TechCrunch, Cowboy’s CEO said “As a digital native vertical brand, we’ve developed our own technology, allowing us to control both product design and production cost. To develop a connection with our customers, and lower prices, we will only distribute our product through the direct sales channel.”
As for now, Belgian startups are making news headlines. Belgian fintech company POM got growth subsidy from the European Commission. In another move, Dutch startup Quicargo in order to expand to the Belgian market raised a €900k seed round.
For more updates in the tech startup world, stay tuned to Silicon Canals.