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You need partners that go the extra mile to help you

Mokumono: Polder e-bike unique design- made in the Netherlands

Please introduce yourself and the startup Mokumono to our readers!

We are Tom and Bob Schiller, twin brothers from Amsterdam and we founded Mokumono in 2014 with the idea of shaking up the bike industry. The Netherlands has a history of  producing great bicycles that would stay on the road for decades, but over the years these skills were lost. Most bikes – even the ones by Dutch producers, are made in Asia. With Mokumono we wanted to prove that it is possible to bring bike production back to the Netherlands and be less dependent on Asian supply chains and all the ethical and sustainability issues that come with outsourcing production.

Why did you decide to start a company?

When Bob was studying at the Design Academy Eindhoven he came up with an idea that allowed us to produce frames in The Netherlands by using techniques that are common in the car industry. We press aluminum plates and then have them welded together robotically. When his design received a lot of positive feedback during Dutch Design Week, we decided to go for it and give it a shot. 

What is the vision behind Mokumono?

To prove that it is possible to build bikes in Europe and by doing that pushing the entire industry towards better practices. We are on a mission to create a 100% European e-bike -with our latest model, the Polder, we are nearly there: 90% of all the parts on the bike are made in Europe. 

Another part of our vision is that we think e-bikes should stay on the road as long as possible. Where other producers will try to sell you a new, upgraded model every two years, we have decided to make the Polder modular. The battery can easily be removed and replaced by a third party battery so you can keep using your bike for years to come. We guarantee that all parts will be in stock for the next ten years and if your bike needs fixing we will come to the driver to fix it on location – something we call ‘The ride to right’ principle. 

From the idea to the start, what have been the biggest challenges so far and how did you finance yourself?

The biggest challenge was to reinvent production. There was no template for what we wanted to do so we had to figure out everything ourselves. But at the same time this was also the most fun part of the process. We ran a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2016 that gave us some initial funds to develop our first model: the Delta. Earlier this year raised 800 thousand euro with a consortium of private investors and Rabobank. This allowed us to scale up before introducing the Polder earlier this month. 

Who is Mokumono’s target audience?

The Delta was a rather sporty e-bike with a specific audience – compare it to a Lamborghini. We sold most to urban professionals – overwhelmingly male. The Polder is a much more inclusive model for a bigger audience. It’s unisex and fits drivers from 165cm to 195 cm. The maximum range of 110 km on a full charge also makes this the perfect bike for commuters. We think that our target audience are people that are a bit bored or fed up with the market leaders and are looking for well designed, sustainable quality bikes – that is our sweet spot. 

What is special about the e-bike? Where are the advantages? What distinguishes you from other providers?

There’s the design, which is completely unique. We say that it is engineered to excite and build to last – so if you are looking for a bike that stays with you for years – you found it. Then there’s the trunk – the lockable battery compartment that also has space for personal items or a bike lock. You can remove the battery and charge it at home or use it as a powerbank for other devices. Depending on the battery you choose the range is anywhere between 80km and 110km – which puts the Polder on the very high end of modern e-bikes.

The Polder switches on using bluetooth technology when its driver approaches, the Mokumono app has seen a huge update and offers everything that can be expected from a modern e-bike app and the phone can be mounted to the frame and charged while driving. The led-lights are integrated in the frame and, like many other parts, are designed exclusively for us.

Mokumono, where are you going? Where do you see yourself in five years?

In the short term we want to make the Polder launch a success. The first reactions have been very positive and we are receiving a lot of orders – so that’s looking good. In 5 years we would like to break open more markets in Europe as well as overseas. The challenge here is that we need to find good partners to take care of local after-sales. We will be happy if we manage to carve out a solid and sustainable piece of market share that allows us to keep doing what we love doing: design groundbreaking bikes that make people happy. 

Finally: What 3 tips would you give to prospective founders?

1. Keep charging at it. Starting up is a rough road with many ups and downs but to see an idea grow, take hold and come to live is super exciting and rewarding.

2. Work on your idea first and talk to prospective customers before you try to raise money from investors.

3. When you are making hardware, it’s important to find production partners that are excited by your ideas. You need partners that go the extra mile to help you and aren’t only focused on the bottom line.  

More information you will find here

Thank you Emil Esselin for the Interview

Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.

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