Featured Startup Pitch: EVELO has developed a power-on-demand electric bike for the mass consumer market

By Editor June 18, 2013
Boris Mordkovich, EVELO

Evelo logoCompany: EVELO

Website: www.evelo.com

Founders: Boris and Yevgeniy Mordkovich

Headquarters: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Year Founded: 2012

Investors: Bootstrapped

Brief Company Description: Boston-based EVELO makes stylish, power-on-demand electric bicycles that make biking accessible to everyone, regardless of age, fitness, experience, or terrain.

# # #

Boris Mordkovich, EVELOBy Boris Mordkovich, co-founder

Product Overview

EVELO produces hybrid electric bicycles that make cycling accessible to the 99 percent of the population that currently doesn’t bike. Our pedal-assist mode provides riders with power-on-demand that makes it easy to get over hills, deal with headwind, cover longer distances and arrive at your destination without getting sweaty. We develop electric bikes both for commuting and recreation.

Founders’ Story

I founded the company with my brother, Yevgeniy Mordkovich. Together, we’ve been working for over eight years on a series of startups in the technology and mobility spaces.

Prior to EVELO, I helped launch RelayRides—the world’s first person-to-person car sharing company, which garnered a $13 million investment from Google and has expanded to multiple cities across the U.S. I also contributed to Tour d’Afrique, a bicycle adventure company organizing and leading trans-continental cycling expeditions in Africa and other remote destinations.

Yevgeniy conceptualized and supervised the development of AdWatcher.com, an award-winning suite of tools designed to help businesses maximize their search engine marketing campaigns. With me, he managed Search Marketing Standard, the first and leading print publication on the SEM industry. Between working on the startups, Yevgeniy had spent time working in a not-for-profit environment at a New York-based microlender—the Hebrew Free Loan—as a microenterprise program coordinator.

The EVELO Story

EVELO was born of personal necessity, combined with our never-ending curiosity and drive for continuous improvement. Yevgeniy built an electric bike from scratch for his wife, so that she could join him on longer bike rides without getting tired. The e-bike often plays the role of an ‘equalizer’ in a family where one spouse is a stronger cyclist than the other, so it gave them a way to spend more quality time together.

I had then just come back from spending a few months in Africa and was visiting Yevgeniy. On a whim, I decided to take the electric bike out for a spin. Within a few blocks from the house, a man waiting at a stoplight in his car rolled down his windows when he saw the bike and started asking questions. Ignoring the changing lights, he spent ten minutes enthusiastically inquiring about the e-bike and by the end of the conversation concluded that he was going to go buy one.

That unabashed enthusiasm and interest was our light bulb. To see somebody become so interested and passionate about a product led us to believe that there was a market for e-bikes in the U.S. Unfortunately, most of the existing companies that were on the market did not meet the needs that electric bike customers had for stylish, long-range and value priced e-bikes. We decided to address that, and within eight months had a product ready. The company was launched in early 2012.

Marketing/Promotion Strategy

We do much of our business online—it makes it really easy for folks to get bikes regardless of where they live. We then ship the bikes 95 percent assembled to the customer, so it takes less than 30 minutes from receiving the box to having the bike ready to go.

We’ve come up with a very unique ‘Ambassador’ program, which plays off our customers’ enthusiasm for the bikes. Most of those that purchase an EVELO are so fond of it that they want to share it with others and show them why they too should buy one. So they become an Ambassador—somebody who makes their bike available for test rides to folks in their area.

So, if you’re looking to buy an EVELO, and we don’t yet have a dealer near you (we have a growing dealer network too), we’ll set you up with one of our Ambassadors that lives nearby. You can ride their bike, fall in love with it, and have it shipped to your doorstep.

Market Opportunity

While electric bikes are much more popular in Europe and Asia, the market is still young in the U.S. There are only about 15 brands here, and the big players like Trek and Schwinn dabble in the space but don’t put out serious offerings.

Thirty million e-bikes are sold worldwide, but only 100,000 were sold in the U.S. in 2012, with most brands moving about 5,000 units each. That said, the market is definitely taking off, as it’s projected to hit 265,000 by 2018.

How We Differentiate From the Competition 

We have a number of unique features that set us apart from the competition:

Unique technology – Our battery and motor provide more power and longer range than others (up to 60 miles).

Low learning curve – Our NuVinci gearing technology gets rid of the difficulty that new riders have when they start cycling, as switching gears become a breeze.

Network of Ambassadors – This makes it possible to test-ride the bike in most parts of the country and helps develop our community.

Dedication to customer satisfaction – ‘Love at first ride guarantee’; when problems occur, we setup appointments at a local bike shop to get it fixed ASAP; also, we ship bikes 95 percent assembled, so once your bike arrives you can be riding it in under 30 minutes.

Business Model 

Right now, most of our sales take place online, both on our own website and on a few other popular general shopping and bike-specific websites. We also have an ever-expanding network of dealers that sell the bikes in their stores. If you’d like to join our dealer network, please email dealer@EVELO.com.

Current Needs

We are completely self-funded, but are open to additional investment to speed up production cycles, add new models, and to increase our network of dealers.

EVELO – www.evelo.com