There is an undeniable connection between nerds and their bikes. So it was only a matter of time before a team of techies came up with a way of protecting their two-wheeled babies. Lock8 was developed as a solution that actually lived up to the idea of a “smart-lock.” CEO Franz Salzmann and CTO Daniel Zajarias-Fainsod featured Lock8 at Disrupt Europe 2013. In spite of the no-nonsense panel of hosts, the pair held their own and were able to explain what makes their product a viable competitor in the world of bike locks, and how their scaling strategies allow for growth without a sharp spike in costs for the consumer.
Broken locks and broken dreams
Ok so the “broken dream” thing might not be totally accurate, but the idea for a high tech lock came to the duo when they both had their bikes stolen. Realizing that there was relatively little difference amongst the locks available on the market, Salzmann and Zajarias-Fainsod got to work designing a lock that could provide additional protection and utility while incorporating smart phone technology. Talk about a nerdgasism.
Lock and locate
The name is pretty sellable – “smart lock”, but the name could easily work against them as well. In an age where “smart” is being used as a prefix for every and any product aiming to appear modern, this lock has alot to live up to. The first feature that helps in its quest for intelligence is the way it replaces a traditional key with an app on a smartphone. The features don’t end with being able to lock and unlock your bike via your phone, the app also does it automatically if you forget through bluetooth.
Alarm – the alarm is pretty badass too. The alarm is set to sound off at 120dB which is just 5 dB shy of when sound is server enough to cause intense pain to listeners. The lock and chain are loaded with 3 different types of sensors.
- Smart cable – sounds an alarm if it is somehow cut or broken.
- 3 Axis Gryo Accelerometer – which in addition to being a killer name for a a greek sandwich also senses different forms of vibration that could go along with trying to break a lock (i.e. drills, chainsaws)
- Temperature sensor – sudden changes (both hot and cold) will trigger the alarm so blowtorches are out
If an incident occurs the lock will send a push notification to both the owners phone, and can be set to send a signal to nearby users as well. Might be a new take on “attack of the nerds.”
Bicycle theft can occur even with the best preventative measures in place, so this product has a built in GPS which will track the bike and presumably the jerk who stole it.
Standing up to thieves and skeptics
Salzmann and Zajarias-Fainsod were probably stoked to find out they landed a spot at Disrupt Europe 2013 until they realized that this meant their product was going to get grilled by a panel of industry pros. The two kept their cool, and answered some tough questions. One of their more notable answers was in response to a question pertaining to their distribution and scaling models. When asked to give specifics the pair explained how they had already started down the B2C route by distributing the lock through their Kickstarter campaign. They wanted to start getting their name out there and generate interest amongst enthusiasts. To help this they have set the promotional price at £69 (about 110 U$D), which seems pricey but not if you consider a high quality U-Lock can set you back just as much if not more.
They are hoping to set the permanent price within the range of the promotional price by subsidizing the price with revenue generated through app subscriptions. Which leads into phase two when they scale up to incorporate a B2B model where they sell both the lock and the service to businesses like hostels and institutions like universities looking to maintain a fleet of rental bikes. The product also lends itself to a scheme where individual bike owners could rent out their bikes for short term use.
This blend of B2C and B2B modeling could pay off, and makes scaling far less daunting (no docking stations needed). Here’s hoping their plan of blended revenue sources turns out to be as bulletproof as the actual products polycarbonate shell casing.