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E-bikes have been buzzing around the streets of cities across Europe for several years now, and growth in e-bike demand shows no signs of slowing. Not only are e-bikes a convenient form of transportation for millions of city-dwellers, they’re also conducive to a healthier, more active population and a cleaner atmosphere.
When Analog Motion founders Nav Gornall and Jack Chalkley first moved to London, they noticed there was a gap in the market for better, lighter, sleeker e-bikes that people actually wanted to ride. So, they built one – and not long after, they’d put over 2,000 e-bikes on the streets of more than 400 cities worldwide.
Here’s the full story, straight from the founders.
What makes Analog Motions’ e-bikes different?
Our products are the result of a reductive design process. Most e-bike companies adopt an additive philosophy. More – more technology, more features, more everything. We’re somewhat of a maverick in the e-bike world as we adopt a contrarian thesis; that we can create a better experience by removing more. We strip away what is unnecessary and not serving us well. We’ve discovered that many of these ‘things’ actually act as veils between an outstanding experience and an average one. This manifests as e-bikes that are lightweight, beautiful, accessible and reliable. E-bikes that have everything you need and nothing you don’t.
When did you first decide to start the company and what was the first order of business in getting it off the ground?
We officially incorporated in 2017 so we’re still a fairly young company. Nav kicked off in 2015 with an idea and the first prototypes and when Jack joined a year or so later we became a real company, a company of friends who each brought a unique and highly relevant set of skills as product designers with different inclinations.
After riding the early prototypes, we were quick to recognise the value we had created. At the time we both commuted 20km a day and upon ditching the London Underground with e-bikes we were stunned to uncover that we were saving 30 hours a month! Time is the only truly finite resource (Nav will take-on anyone that states otherwise) and so having gained 30 more of these finite units for ourselves we now had a little more of this rich commodity to give to a startup. Several times a week, we’d meet up after work and on weekends to build into the early, early hours of the morning. We did this for a year prior to launching on Kickstarter. It’s hard to imagine running on that little sleep now, we really believed in what we were doing, and most importantly, it was a really fun time.
In 2018, we launched our AM1 e-bike on Kickstarter, gaining the support of 498 backers. We were blown away by the support and quit our jobs with absolutely no idea on what was going to happen next; but we trusted we’d pull it off.
The e-bike market is competitive, what are Analog Motion’s plans to acquire market share and stand out to consumers?
The market is competitive. But also, it’s not. It’s neither and it’s both. It’s a false dichotomy because the industry is growing as fast as the demand. The industry reports are saying 17m e-bikes sold in EU by 2030, out selling cars 2:1. We have a respect for cars as they have, metaphorically and physically, paved the way for e-bikes. Observe how smooth and wide our roads are! With a substantial demand for e-bikes, and plenty of space for them to be enjoyed, we believe there’s space for competition too; we welcome it.
Ultimately, consumers desire an outstanding e-bike experience. Knowing this, we also recognise that the e-bike hardware is inexorably linked to the experience we deliver. Owning an e-bike should be as effortless to own as it is to ride.
We’ve arrived from a unique perspective. We don’t hire from the bike industry, rather pulling from the tech industry. While we do benefit significantly from its legacy, our product roadmap features products that question industry conventions.
We joke about Analog Motion being on a 500 year mission. A startup is a marathon not a sprint. If the founders aren’t enjoying it then no-one is. If we’re doing this with a smile then nothing is too much effort and there is always time. We’ve observed what can happen to a company when the passion fades and it descends to just another stock ticker.
We intend on raising what we need to grow at the right pace. By employing the right strategies, i.e crowdfunding, we’ve evidenced rapid growth and maintain majority ownership now and long into the future. We believe that this strategy is the right one for us, our shareholders and the world we exist in.
Where can consumers currently find Analog Motion bikes?
You will find them fulfilling their purpose on the streets in 300 cities around the world. If you don’t yet own one, you can buy directly from our online store or find them at Pure Electric stores all over Europe.
What is your strategy to reach even more people in more countries moving forward?
We’re already global, Kickstarter and Indiegogo made that our default state on day 1. The key to helping people move through space is to design a phenomenal experience that’s as accessible as it is great. We’re piloting new forms of ownership this year that aim to do exactly this. Electric bikes can be accessible to everyone.
What changes in the market have been brought on by Covid-19?
Since the onset of Covid-19, we’ve witnessed investments in cycling infrastructure and a near overnight shift in attitudes around e-mobility that expedited the industry 3 years into the future in just days. E-bikes were already a major growth segment before 2020, and COVID-19 turbo-charged this trend with a 92% year-on-year rise in e-bike sales. Europeans are expected to buy 30m bikes per year by 2030, over half will be electric and many of these will be our designs.
What has been the greatest challenge so far?
It’s a journey. And we’re now starting to figure out what the challenges mean. Each challenge is an opportunity to learn something new about ourselves and the business. The finger needs to always point inwards and say ‘what can I learn in this challenge so that I don’t need to experience it again’.
Adopting this attitude actually makes you long for more challenges, not because you want to suffer but because you want to be free from your own narratives that aren’t necessarily true until they have been tested. The obstacles are actually the way.
What’s also an interesting observation is that we often experience challenges without even realising – just ask any pre-covid rush hour tube commuter. Standing in a cramped, sweaty, loud carriage is not ok. This is why we must question if old ways of thinking are still valid.
In the last 12 months we were forced to reflect and build processes that would bolster the company for its next growth cycle. We did, and continue to do, just that. We’ve loaded this unique insight into the experience machine that we need to create for everyone riding one of our e-bikes.
Where do you think is the most potential for growth in this market that e-bike incumbents are not taking advantage of?
We have the exact answer to this question, but we’re saying nothing.
What can we expect next from Analog Motion?
Our e-bikes are effortless to ride, and we want them to be effortless to own. This year we will accelerate development of our connected e-bike system and new forms of ownership that will build a phenomenal e-bike ownership experience.
What’s the reason you’ve decided to give the crowd an opportunity to invest?
We’re created by the crowd so to the crowd we shall return. We ran two successful product crowdfunds, the first of which launched the business, the 2nd of which raised £1.5m. We turn to the community for improving our product, to informing the design of our next generations and exploring future business models.
It’s great to see so many backers continuing to join us as investors too.
What’s your passion outside of entrepreneurship?
Nav: I spend my free time questioning the nature of reality and listening to, DJ’ing and sometimes producing electronic music.
Jack: I enjoy being hands-on and augmenting things.
If you could have lunch with any public figure, who would it be and why?
Nav: I’d love to sit with Tim Ferris. It took me an embarrassingly long time to realise that his book, The 4 Hour Work Week was actually a metaphor for the process, rather than the outcome. I kept thinking, he must have accidentally left a zero out. This time round I’m paying closer attention. I have questions about his yet to be released book on human emotions. When you keep asking the question why, human emotions are at the root of every decision, both personal and business. I’ll wrestle anyone who has a view contrary to this 🙂
Jack: If lockdown’s taught us anything, it’s that anyone’s company is a privilege, so I’d like to go to lunch with my friends again, if that counts?
What advice would you give to someone looking to switch to e-bikes?
Jack: An e-bike is a no brainer for urban life. It distorts space and makes cities smaller. Try it.
Nav: Don’t switch to e-bikes if you hate having more time, money and well being.
To support Analog Motion’s mission, visit the pitch now.