Cycliq, maker of the Fly videocamera/light units, is about to launch its third Kickstarter campaign for a dual out-front mount for a GPS computer and Fly12. Perhaps more notably, the Perth-based startup is about to be listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, a testament to its previous successes with crowdfunding.
It was only in February 2014 that the first Fly6 hit Kickstarter and raised AU$266,594 with the concept of an always-on videocamera to record interactions with motorists.
“We came up with the idea because Kingsley (Fiegert), my business partner, got shot in the bum with a slingshot from a passing car. At first, we thought maybe it would good be to get a camera to catch these bastards and get some retribution,” Cycliq CEO Andrew Hagen told BikeRadar. “But when we started making the Fly6, we realised it’s not about retribution and catching these guys, it's more about stopping people from doing it in the first place in a sort of passive way, because suddenly they're accountable.”
Since the original idea, the Perth-based startup released two tail lights and a front light, all with integrated high definition cameras, and have sold around 40,000 units worldwide. But it hasn’t been an easy process to get to this stage.
“There have been probably between 10 to 15 times during the last two or three years that we’ve gone, if this doesn't work, this one particular thing, then we’re really screwed, and we’re going to have to tell our wives that we’ve dumped all our money and personal savings into this business, and it's gone,” Hagen said.
A rocky start
The process of going from a concept, to Kickstarter, to a product is not easy for any brand, even when you do have the funding, as Brim Brothers recently demonstrated. For Cycliq, it's been an ever-evolving learning process.
When the first units were coming off the production line, the factory that Cycliq had been working with delivered a unit the founders weren’t particularly happy with. However, it was these units that proved they were onto something and laid the path for the business.
“We realized that the factory had shortchanged us and that our business wasn't about making 5,000 of these things a year, and just ticking along,” Hagen said. “When we realised we actually wanted to become a company that made these products, we wanted people to be happy with them, so they’d go and buy our next one because liked the previous one.”
So, Hagen and Fiegert began shopping for a new factory, and after a bit of searching they found a company who understood what they were trying to do and helped them produce the Fly6 as it is today. It also meant all the tooling which had only been done a few months prior needed to be redone and paid for.
“Once we got through this process we realized how much it had matured from one product to the next, and that’s when we thought this could sit on a shelf in a shop somewhere," he said.
At this point, Hagen and Fiegert were going months without making any money, both with families to support and mortgages to pay. Knowing the next big step was to get the Fly6 in shops in the US, Hagen used the last of his credit cards that weren't already maxed out and bought tickets to America. On their trip they met with distributors all over the country managed to sign on six companies to sell their product, enough to keep them afloat for the time being.
“We were in the airport lounge on our way home and I was buying some beers to celebrate the success we’d had, and my card was declined because it was maxed out," Hagen said.
“You could easily say back then, you know, you’re a dickhead for taking a credit card and just hoping it would work. But if we never went there the business could have folded because we needed sales at that time to pay for all the new tooling and manufacturing costs,” Hagen explained.
After that came the Fly12, which had its own set of challenges including a camera lens that melted in the Aussie heat and a computer coder who bailed halfway through designing the accompanying app.
Despite all of this the pair managed to keep their heads above water and expand their operation from three employees to 10. Just before Cycliq goes public, they are turning to Kickstarter again, but this time for a different reason.
“We don’t need to raise funds from Kickstarter to actually make this product; we’re going to make it anyway but we’re going offer it at a really good price,” Hagen explained. “We know we can use the platform and we want to give it back to the folks who helped support us.”
The Duo Mount, as the name implies, houses a computer above and Fly12 below. The CNC-machined 7075 aluminum pre-production version weighs 51g.
Designed for 31.8mm bars, the mount comes with five replaceable computer caps which make it compatible with Garmin, Wahoo, Polar, Cateye and Mio/Magellan computers.
The new Duo Mount is available for an early bird price of $30 / £24 / AU$39 and is set to retail for $64 / £55 / AU$89. Check out Cycliq’s Kickstarter page for more info.