Brussels-based electric bike designer Cowboy has raised $80 million in a Series C funding round. Through this funding, the drovers are aiming to wrangle core technologies, including manufacturing, in-house, as well as further develop, design, and refine the product lineup.
The round was led by Exor, HCVC, and Siam Capital, and saw investments from Tiger Global, Index Ventures, Eothen, Isomer Opportunities Fund, Future Positive Capital, and Triple Point Capital. Since 2017, Cowboy has raised just $120 million in capital.
As an avid cyclist, and admittedly, rather old school in my approach, I can confess that I personally have never ridden an eclectic bicycle. Perhaps it has to do with the art of zen found in the act of maintenance, perhaps due to the fact that over the course of the pandemic, cycling has been one of my very few outlets for physical activity, and somehow I see an electric bike as ‘cheating’?
Either way, just a simple look to my left and my right signals that my way of thinking is quickly joining that of the dinosaurs.
And if a description of my peripheral version wasn’t enough to convince you, perhaps the New York Times report on how e-bikes are the fastest-selling form of an electric vehicle, or some of Cowboy’s milestones will.
Not surprisingly between January and March of 2020, the startup recorded a 230% spike in sales year-over-year. Building upon the positive reception of the startups’ flagship model, Cowboy 4, which received the coveted “Best of the Best” Red Dot Product Design award, operations were then expanded to both the Nordics and the U.S. where sales figures continued their northerly trend.
Last but certainly not least, Cowboy is clearly taking a page from some of the most beloved brands of our time, and carefully crafting a user community around its product, noted by the launch of Cowboy Circular, a service that provides budget-minded riders (hand in the air) access to second-hand, certified refurbished Cowboy bikes, and Cowboy app 3.0, which features ride stats and social sharing, ultimately upping the numbers in terms of cycling time and distance covered per rider.
Now when you’re talking about urban-focused minimalistic bicycle design, there’s simply no way to leave The Netherlands’ VanMoof out of the discussion. While the Dutch brothers Ties and Taco Carlier might have the bigger brand recognition and lower price, that price has come with a price.
When VanMoof’s S3 and X3 bikes launched in April of 2020, some of the same issues that plagued previous deliveries resurfaced, despite promising a “hyper-efficient manufacturing and distribution system.”
Adding to the woes, some customers reported their ~$2,000 investments arriving with scuffs, scratches, and assorted damages that occurred during shipping. Wobbly wheels, faulty hydraulic brakes, and a wide range of non-sensical error codes on the bike’s display.
With this new funding round, Cowboy is aiming to avoid any duplication of its competitors' missteps, namely by owning the entire design and technological development process.
“Since day one at Cowboy, we have focused on designing the simplest, most intuitive ride feeling anyone has experienced in an electric bike,” said co-founder and VP of hardware technologies Karim Slaoui. “Now we can go even further with the technology in the bike and how it pairs with the app for a truly seamless cycling experience for every rider.”