Ein Brief von Podbike®-Gründer Per
Dear Podbike fans,
I’m Per Hassel Sørensen, Podbike® founder and technical lead.
Christmas is just around the corner, so I wanted to send you a personal message.
It’s important news because I want to tell you where we are as a company and what our plans are for 2023.
In our last newsletter we gave you a glimpse of how we are preparing for higher interest rates and the prospect of a global recession.
None of this is good for the economy. But we saw it coming and are reacting as best we can.
Today I would like to go into more detail and explain our plans for getting our Podbike FRIKAR® into the hands of our customers.
We expected our first shipment to have come a long time ago, but COVID, the global lockdowns and the war in Ukraine have taken us into uncharted waters. You know the back story, so I won’t go into it again.
OF TOO MUCH AND TOO FAST SUCCESS
Our dream of creating a sustainable urban transportation system has appealed to so many people around the world that we have more pre-orders than we can handle right now.
I’m thrilled that my podbike dream is gaining traction, but that success was also our Achilles’ heel. We thought we could develop the bike faster than it turned out.
The technical challenges were great.
Customer expectations were high.
And then came COVID. Out of nowhere, our business plan turned into confetti.
Nothing worked anymore. And I really mean nothing.
We couldn’t have any special parts made because our suppliers were no longer able to deliver. We couldn’t even buy standard bike parts because people stuck at home suddenly realized that one of the only ways to get around safely and efficiently during a pandemic was by bike. The bike parts supply chain collapsed overnight amid overwhelming demand.
This is the business environment in which we work. The Podbike team has done a Herculean job over the past three years to meet this challenge.
However, 2023 is a new year. It’s a chance for a fresh start.
Therefore we plan the following:
FULL FOCUS ON EXISTING CLIENTS
We’re happy about the great demand, but we have to focus on delivering the bikes.
As a result, we will temporarily stop accepting new pre-orders starting at midnight on Monday, December 19th.
RESPONSIBLE HANDLING OF OUR CASH RESERVES
Our dream was to produce the FRIKAR on a large scale after completing the final tests. We set up a production facility in Germany and prepared for a major expansion. We expected thousands of podbikes to roll off the assembly line in 2021/2022.
The demand was there. The market was ready. The customers were enthusiastic about the brand and wanted the FRIKAR e-bikes.
But the setbacks kept coming. We even caused a few ourselves when stress testing uncovered some unexpected weaknesses in the FRIKAR chassis that required a design fix.
Unlike Ford or GM, we don’t have large cash reserves to fall back on. We’re a startup, and every penny counts in startups.
Our crowdfunding campaign in 2022 raised 1.3 million euros. This was very welcome capital and created an even closer bond with you, our customers and our investors.
But €1.3 million isn’t enough to open a factory that produces thousands of e-bikes a year. We need a lot more money for this – according to our projections, at least 10 million euros.
In addition, our largest donors want us to start small before they provide further funds to set up a production center. Like any seasoned company, we faced these economic headwinds head-on, understood what was needed, and turned around.
SMALL STEPS BEFORE BIG: REALIGNING OUR AMBITIONS WITH A NEW PRODUCTION PLAN
We will limit our first production run to 180 FRIKARs – but with a little twist. (More on that below.)
I chose 180 as the magic production number because that was the number of days it took me to recover from my 2009 bike accident. This accident is the reason for the development of the Podbike FRIKAR as a safer and more practical alternative to a regular bike.
The small production run allows us to assemble these bikes with our small team in Stavanger, saving us the cost of having our own assembly facility. Unfortunately, as we start small, we do not get volume discounts on parts from our suppliers.
We also have some parts that are only available from FRIKAR, such as For example, the handcrafted 360-degree hood, chassis, and seat. These parts are by all means expensive to make because they require special tools, and they get even more expensive when we order them in small batches.
Which leads me to our next big announcement…
So far we have presented you with two models: the FRIKAR Standard and the FRIKAR Plus.
We will start production of these models after the Signature model, which is expected to be completed in 2023. If you want one of the existing models, you’ll have to wait a little longer.
To bridge the time, we have developed the model already mentioned: the FRIKAR Signature.
It is a full FRIKAR, but an earlier version.
In order to get these first bikes on the road as quickly as possible, some parts inside the bike are made in small batches. The Signature model will have some small compromises and we want to be very frank about that.
The vehicle will still be eye catching though and we stand behind our build quality.
We chose the name Signature because this first model will be rare and unique. It’s an early version of the revolutionary vehicle we envision. We know that many of you just want to grab a FRIKAR Podbike and ride. This is the space that the Signature will fill.
Only 180 signature models will be delivered. They are handcrafted at Podbike’s headquarters in Stavanger, Norway. Each e-bike comes with a numbered plaque and a certificate of ownership confirming its origin.
As the Podbike brand grows, we hope this limited edition FRIKAR Signature will grow in value over time and eventually become a collector’s item.
As a thank you for our first and most patient customers, we will dedicate half of the signature bikes to Norway and the other half to Germany.
YOUR ORDER & DELIVERY
Here’s how it will work: Purchasing a Signature will be invitation-only.
The first Signature bikes will be delivered to customers in and around Stavanger, Norway in January 2023.
We invite you to confirm your order based on the date of payment of your pre-order fee in each territory.
If you are among the first to pre-order in the Stavanger region (Norway), please keep an eye on your inbox for an invitation to purchase your Signature by Christmas Eve.
We plan to expand deliveries to Germany in the second half of 2023. The signature e-bike will be delivered in larger quantities to central locations in Norway and Germany as soon as we have found service partners.
WHAT WILL THE NEW Signature Model COST?
The FRIKAR Signature will cost 9,500 euros (same price in Germany and Norway), plus VAT and shipping.
If you want studded snow tires and spare batteries, these can be purchased as extras.
€9,500 is more than we planned for the Signature model, but material prices have risen drastically in recent years, and rising inflation is only driving them higher. Building bikes on a larger scale would help us reduce our costs. That remains our goal.
To reward our supporters for their patience and loyalty, I would like to offer Signature customers the following bonuses:
- 10% discount on all spare parts throughout the life of the vehicle.
- 20% on upgrade components for the vehicle.
- 30% discount on all Podbike brand goods.
- A GPS tracker (Bikefinder) and a three-month subscription to the online service so you can keep an eye on your FRIKAR no matter where it is.
- A three-month theft and damage insurance via Bikefinder.
- An insurance-approved bike lock.
- Invitations to test ride future Podbike models before they are made available to the public.
- An invitation to meet me and my co-founder of Podbike, Anne-Lise Heggland, in a webinar in 2023.
- The opportunity to participate in our ambassador program. Volunteers will earn Podbike items and rewards.
- An invitation to visit the Podbike factory in 2024.
So this is our current status.
Finally, let me say how proud we are of the support you, our followers, have shown us through the ups and downs of the past few years. A slow launch wasn’t what we had in mind when Podbike was founded in 2016, but life has taken us there.
your more confident
Per Hassel Sorensen
Entrepreneur for sustainable transport