Cowboy brings AdaptivePower to its ebikes and shows why community building is critical to D2C sales

Today Cowboy releases new intuitive ebike functionalities, new colours and announces upcoming crowdfunding, But its greatest win might be the brand’s ability to build community.
Cowboy brings AdaptivePower to its ebikes and shows why community building is critical to D2C sales

Today Belgium ebike company Cowboy launched AdaptivePower, a technology that senses changes in the rider's environmental conditions in real-time, adjusting the power depending on the hill, wind or weight. 

Tanguy Goretti, Co-Founder and CTO, shared that the rider can 

"just get on and ride exactly like a normal bike, but not have to think about buttons or gears. Delivering this requires complex tech under the surface. AdaptivePower is the evolution of this goal - the ultimate contextual ride, allowing the bike to think for itself in real-time."

Even better, remote updates to existing C4 and C4 ST ebikes mean current customers will receive the tech via an in-app update that takes riders just 30 seconds.

One thing that always grabs me about Cowboy is the value of the tech within. After all, there's no point in adding tech unless it's done well with a tangible benefit. 

As a brand Cowboy has a lot of distinct advantages. Half of its team are engineers hailing from automotive and consumer electronics with the ability to develop software capabilities, including crash detection and anti-theft protection. 

Colour my ride

The company today further unveils some funky new spring colours – Clay, Fig and Lavender.

But the stuff behind the tech has also enabled Cowboy to build a highly engaged audience. 

Conquering the direct-to-consumer market 

As a company, Cowboy has sold over 50,000 bikes. Its global community completes more than 1m rides per month, saving a combined total of 8.2m tonnes of CO2 to date. 

It does customer experience right, with test bikes, the opportunity to talk to a human when there's a problem, and an efficient mobile repair team.

I can't help comparing it to VanMoof, a company that, despite being historically "the most funded ebike company in the world" has been plagued by supply chain and service challenges.  

In January we learnt that 2021 sales figures crunched by Dutch financial media outlet FD revealed that VanMoof generated a turnover of €83 million in 2021 and a loss of €78 million.

Take a quick look at VanMoof's social media and you see customers querying the status of bike repairs as well as delivery delays for new ebikes. One customer writes:  

"I'd love to experience the city from an e-bike, do you know any good companies where I can buy one and actually get it?

Vanmoof took my money over six months ago and the second delivery date, after being pushed 100 days, passed without as much as an email.

I'm having a hard time seeing what I bought with my money, when I STILL have to spend money on bike rental and public transportation every day."

It suggests something is going seriously wrong at VanMoof HQ.

Comparatively, Cowboy today also announced an additional €10 million in funding (on top of an existing $131.9 million) to advance the company’s goal of profitability.

According to Adrien Roose, Co-Founder and CEO, 

"2022 was our best year ever with €41m revenue and 2.7x year-on-year sales growth, and we have seen strong 2023 sales so far, returning to pre-pandemic gross margin levels and securing additional funding to support our latest product developments."

It also has an upcoming crowdfunding campaign with Crowdcube to leverage its highly engaged, global rider community. 

Speaking to the company in Paris this week, I learnt of the 600-plus-strong community in Paris alone that would coordinate a weekly bike ride through the city streets.

This company has built a strong brand and an even stronger community – and that's how you truly make a sustainable company. 

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