E-bike maker Cowboy raises new round of funding and launches AdaptivePower

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Brussels-based startup Cowboy has been in the news recently for its cash burn rate. But the company wants to take control of its narrative again with some product and business news. Cowboy is introducing a new feature called ‘Adaptive Power’, which automatically adjusts the motor’s power based on the current slope and weather conditions.

Cowboy’s electric bikes are pretty straightforward – there are no gears and no + and – buttons to adjust the power of the motor. The company believes that riding a bike should be as easy as jumping on the saddle and putting a foot on the pedals.

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But that minimalist approach has some drawbacks. While the default power mode works fine in most cities, it isn’t good enough in hilly cities like San Francisco.

Rather than releasing a new bike with gears or buttons, the company is taking advantage of the sensors in its existing Cowboy lineup, such as the gyroscope and accelerometer. While these sensors were originally included for crash and theft detection, they can be leveraged to make the bike smarter. Depending on the current torque, speed and other factors, the Cowboy automatically increases or decreases the electric motor’s power delivery.

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This feature will be introduced in the latest models of Cowboy that were released a few years back – the C4 and its step-through version the C4ST. It will be an over-the-air software update. Once the update is installed, you will be able to choose between ‘Adaptive’ and ‘Eco’ options in the mobile app for motor power settings.

In other product news, the company is also releasing some new colors for the C4ST as you can see in the image at the bottom of this article.

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new funding round at low valuation

In January 2022, the Cowboys announced an $80 million funding round. A little over a year later, the company is raising more funding. But it is not disclosing the dollar figure for this new round of funding.

Of course, things have changed a lot for tech startups. VC firms are not deploying capital fast enough and startup founders sometimes struggle to raise their next funding round. For a hardware company like Cowboy, supply chain issues and inflation also had some impact on the company’s margins.

A few weeks ago, Cowboy co-founder and CTO Tangi Goretti said in a spicy LinkedIn post that the company was “in the process of closing a €15M round” (that’s $15.8M at today’s exchange rate). From what I’ve heard, Cowboy raised a little less than that, but an equity crowdfunding portion is going to round out that.

He also added in his LinkedIn post that this recent funding round is a down round. The total valuation of the company is 44% lower than the previous funding round. In other words, it’s been a long and windy road for the Cowboys and the past few months have been tougher than expected.

But the startup’s existing investors decided to pump more money into the company, which should improve its runway just before Cowboy’s peak sales season (between March and October). The Cowboys’ margins are also back where they need to be, after some logistical challenges a year or so ago.

With adaptive power, the Cowboy can now think of other possible vehicles as well. For example, this feature will work exclusively with cargo bikes. But nothing to announce on this front as of now.

“2022 has been our best year ever, with revenues of €41 million and sales growing 2.7x year-over-year,” co-founder and CEO Adrian Roose said in a statement. Cowboy has sold 50,000 since 2018. And 2022 wasn’t so bad as the company told me it managed to sell 20,000 bikes in a year.

Image credit: Cowboy

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