Gi Bike raises $1M to change the way you ride

Steven Loeb · March 19, 2015 · Short URL:

It has developed a full-size, electric, folding bike that also includes smartphone integration

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I've seen many studies that show that, for numerous reasons, my generation are much less likely to own cars than our parents were. That partially has to do with the fact that we make less than they did at our age, adjusting for inflation, but also we are more environmentally conscious, and actively try to reduce our carbon footprint as much as can.

I have numerous friends who would rather bike around than drive. The problem is, there aren't great option for folding or electric bikes. Many of the current folding bikes have small wheels, and are hard to fold, while electric bikes have short batteries and need constant recharge.

Gi Bike has developed a new all-in-one electric folding bike that solves these issues. And it just announced that it has raised $1 million to help bring that product to market.

The round came from a group of strategic investors and Incutex, an Argentinean company builder that promotes and supports promising startups. This is the first funding the company has raised, though it did launch a Kickstarter campaign around six months ago.

That campaign raised over $1116,000, failing to reach its goal, but it was enough to be seen as a "validation of the design and features," and helped propel the company forward, Eric Sevillia, co-founder and CFO of Gi Bike, told me in an interview. 

The design of the bicycle is meant to correct for many of the problems that Sevillia, along with fellow co-founders CEO Lucas Toledo and CTO Agustin Augustinoy saw in the products already on the market.

"We designed a bike that full size, has full wheel size, and can be folded in one movement and motion," he told me. "It also gives you a riding experience of up to 40 miles, so commuters can ride the bike for a couple of days without charging it." 

Other features include front and rear led lights, which will alert drivers around them that they are riding side by side, in order to avoid collisions. It also has mobile app integrations, including mapping capabilities, such as Google Maps, so that drivers can note to other drivers about conditions in the road.

The user downloads the Gi Bike, connects through their blu tooth with unique serial number and can then the connect app to the bike to communicate to the app.

One of the coolest features is one that will automatically lock the bike when the owner steps away from it. They can share the bike with friends and family, sending them a unique number, and a set time of expiration. It gives the owner complete control over the bicycle.

All three co-founders are from Argentina, and conditions there are also what led to them wanting to help foster a new type of transportation.

"In Argentina there a lot of public strikes, especially in transportation. They stop the city from moving around. That gave us the idea to think about a solution to give people the ability to move independently," said Sevillia. "Metropolitan areas will change. The way people commute on daily basis is changing, and people are starting to look at bicycles."

The funding will be used to work on the software development of the bike, and to finish tooling the prototype. That wil require hiring more people, and growing the three person team by another two to four people.

The company hopes to get a finished product out by July or August, and once it does it sees a global opportunity.

"The majority of the electric bike market is in Europe and Asia. We have had expressions of interest from the Netherlands, German, France, Italty. So that's a strong market for us," Sevillia said. "They are also popuar in Asian metro areas, including Singapore, Hong Kong, parts of Korea. We also believe China will be a huge market."

Down the road, there are also plans for more apps, including health features, as well as accessories, including protective gear and a briefcase holder. Right now, though, the company is "perfecting the product and starting conversation with the right partners."

"Our vision, as we have been working on this product, is that metro areas are changing, with parking fares increasing and, tolls increasing,"  Sevillia said. "There is a lot of investment for infrastructure for bikes, including parking, a lot of companies are providing credit, and looking for a green alternative for mobility options. That is where the world is going, and we are looking to build the brand for daily commuters, and young professionals, who are making that change in their lifestyle."

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The Gi Bike is the first full-size, electric, folding bike specially built for daily commuters. Designed for young professionals living in metropolitan areas, it only takes one second and one motion to fold and is easy to carry, like a wheeled-luggage.

The electric assistance allows you to ride for up to 40 miles, with five levels of assistance and a smart mode that analyzes your use and adjusts accordingly. It is the safest option in the street with integrated frontal wheel smart LED lights that turn on at night, gaining visibility during darker hours and alerting drivers. Its integrated anti-theft locking system locks automatically once you walk 10 feet away from your Gi. The same system allows you to add users and share your bike with friends and family. The smartphone integration comes with GPS, social media, an integrated USB port and a full control of Gi’s features.

After two years of work, we have a fully built and tested prototype with all the drawing, blueprints, specs and quotes to go into mass production. The prototype was validated through a Kickstarter campaign, where we raised +$116,000 from over 180 backers from around the world.  The GiBike received incredible feedback from over 200 recognized media publishers including CNN, Univision, New York Energy Week, Techcrunch, FastCompany among others as well as positive feedback from industry experts and designers.



Eric Sevillia

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