Beeline is on a mission to make bike rides better through navigation technology for two wheels – bicycles, e-bikes, e-scooters, mopeds and motorcycles.
For Beeline, it all comes down to one question – what makes a great bike ride? Beeline believe so much comes down to the route you take. This is why Beeline strongly believe that if you can build great navigation technology you can unlock better bike rides for everyone.
We had the pleasure of interviewing co-founder Tom Putnam to gain some insight into his journey building Beeline and his vision for the brand.
We’d love to know about your career before Beeline and where you first found that entrepreneurial spark.
Mark and I both worked at McKinsey in our early 20s which is where we met. I learned a lot there but as I remember was always thinking about doing something more entrepreneurial. I then went and spent a couple of years working for Rocket Internet’s JUMIA in Kenya which as well as being an amazing place to live was a great entrepreneurial training ground – starting something from scratch but with a safety net. When I came back home from that, Mark and I began Beeline!
What inspired you to create Beeline and what problem are you solving?
It all came from Mark and I getting lost on bikes ourselves. We rode around London a lot and found trying to find our way just with Google Maps on our phone a real pain. Both in that a phone in your pocket isn’t much good and that the routes weren’t well optimised for bikes.
We’re really trying to make riding a bike/e-bike/scooter/motorcycle as easy and as nice an experience as possible. We believe the world will be a better place if we can get people out of cars and onto lower impact forms of travel. So making great navigation to make that easy for people is our small contribution to that movement.
What can you tell us about the market and how Beeline is positioning themselves for success?
The navigation market is clearly well established with the likes of Google Maps, Garmin etc. but where we stand out is in our absolute focus on 2 wheelers. They have very different needs to cars which are just trying to get from A-B as quickly as possible. 2 wheeled journeys tend to vary hugely. From scenic loop tours to trying to deliver a pizza but feeling safe while doing so. So all of our routing, journey planning, and guidance tech focuses on those specific needs.
Could you tell us about some of your biggest achievements to date?
There have been lots of specific moments – design awards, launches of new products, reaching profitability etc. But actually I think our biggest achievement is building the team and culture we have. We’ve got a brilliant team who are really passionate about what we do and work really well together. That’s probably the thing we’re most proud of.
How do you plan to create a scalable and profitable business model?
This is really important to us. We want to build something for the long term not just blow loads of cash on something in the hope that it has value at some point in the future! We have actually already hit profitability but we’re raising because we think we can move faster if we invest now. But we want to protect that. So we’ll take a sensible approach to how we spend that money – dividing it between areas we know will return such as growing our existing sales network and the more risky but higher reward bets such as our B2B model. But even there we’ll do it iteratively, in a way that means we’re testing and validating as we go. Not just closing our eyes and hoping for the best!
What is your vision for the brand?
Ultimately we want to be THE go to provider for navigation on 2 wheels. To be part of every ride that happens, be that a consumer using our app or hardware for personal leisure rides or commuting, or through being integrated into bikes at the point of manufacturer or into the software/hardware of logistics and transport providers.
What do you love to do in your free time?
Currently it seems to be a lot of DIY! But otherwise I’m a big fan of travelling, particularly camping and climbing things – I love a good adventure.
If you weren’t building Beeline, what do you think you’d be doing?
Good question! I imagine if it wasn’t Beeline I’d have tried to start something else. And if they’d all failed, I’d be doing laps of the world in my old Landrover with my wife, Saz.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt so far building Beeline?
That I’m not right as often as I once thought I was!
Now with better cycle infrastructure, e-bikes and e-scooters, shared micro-mobility, cargo bikes – travelling on two wheels is really taking off, whether for leisure or for transport, and Beeline hopes to play a part in that future.
The experience of riding a bike, scooter or motorcycle can be absolutely fantastic for everyone – join Beeline in building technology that helps that happen. Check out their campaign page here.