This week we're excited to bring you an interview from Oliver's recent tour of Southern California ahead of our Micromobility World online event. Oliver flew up from NZ to be with James, Julia and the team to produce the event but while he was there also took the chance to visit a whole heap of companies working in micromobility, either as vehicle makers or peripherally. He learnt a huge amount - especially from those who have been in the industry for a while.
Benno Baenziger is an OG of the bike space, founding Electra Bikes back in 1993 as a recent immigrant to California from Germany and growing it through the 90s and 2000s till he sold it to a private equity group in 2008. He stuck around but eventually left to start Benno bikes in 2015 with a focus on what electric can bring to the bike industry.
There’s a few things that you should know about Benno. Firstly, the company has less than 10 employees. He has really understood the bike industry and what makes for great bikes so focusses on the very specific points that he has as a designer to make great bikes and leaves the rest to others, a very different strategy to other companies in this space like Vanmoof or Cowboy who have chosen to eschew the old bike industry and try and do it themselves.
Secondly, he’s profitable with no outside funding beyond what capital he put in himself.
Like the conversation with Josh Hon from Tern, Oliver learns so much about how the world works with experiences like this. It is an honour to bring you material like this and we hope that we get to do more of the tours - it’s always better to do these interviews in person!
Finally, Micromobility World went great. It was one of our largest events to dates and We had a lot of really excellent content come out of it, the relevant ones of which we will drop as podcasts soon.
And here's Benno!
Specifically they tackle:
- His background founding Electra Bikes and then moving on
- Why, despite him saying that he’d not do another bike business, Benno Bikes exists
- What is ‘etility’ and what does it offer to the customer
- Why he’s chosen to go a more traditional route for componentry and servicing
- How he has managed to self fund the company to date
- The importance of design and quality in a brand
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