REALRIDER: On the road to success

REALRIDER: On the road to success

After being crowned BQ Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year for the North East in 2014, Zoe Farrington and Andrew Richardson are continuing to save lives and provide much needed support to the emergency services with their highly acclaimed and innovative app REALRIDER®. BQ’s Bryce Wilcock reports.

The vulnerability of lone riders, potentially immobile after a crash and without witnesses to call for help, spurred the entrepreneurs and motorcycle enthusiasts to develop REALRIDER®. The industry-first app enables local ambulance services to quickly find and treat the patient following an accident, greatly improving their chances of survival.

In the UK, motorcyclists represent 1% of traffic on the road yet account for 19% of all fatalities.  Critically motorbike riders are 35 times more likely (per mile ridden) to be killed in a road traffic accident than car occupants and over two-thirds of these fatal accidents take place on rural roads.

With that in mind, the company developed and launched the REALRIDER® app. When installed, key sensors in the smartphone look for changes such as rapid deceleration, a tumbling motion followed by a period of non-movement, and immediately contacts the emergency services.

Since launching in Durham in 2012, the company has now moved to larger premises in Newcastle at Riverside House in Newcastle and employs six members of staff. One of the first commercial partners to ride along with REALRIDER® was BMW Motorrad UK which saw the potential in the technology and signed a deal with the firm to offer the app to its customers.

The partnership sees all new BMW Motorcycle owners offered a complimentary 12-month subscription to the premium REALsafe® crash detection service, part of the REALRIDER® app.

Ian Furse, national sales manager for BMW Motorrad UK, said: “Every year, new innovations in technology and materials make BMW Motorcycles and Rider Equipment safer and easier to use.

“With the REALRIDER REALsafe® app, we are giving new BMW motorcycle owners a complimentary subscription to a new social and route-planning app, which also has the potential to improve safety.

"In addition to helping foster community and shared experiences between riders, the innovative ability to automatically call for assistance if the rider is unable to respond comes as a welcome safety net for any motorcyclist.”

Andrew Richardson, chief commerical officer and co-founder of REALRIDER®, added: “The partnership with BMW Motorrad UK gives us an opportunity to protect a large number of their customers with our award-winning REALsafe® crash detection technology.

"Not only will it increase the safety of BMW riders, it will give them access to a range of other benefits designed to help them get the most out of their new bike. I’m delighted to be working with the BMW Motorrad UK team.”

The company has also secured a partnership with leading UK supplier of motorcycle gear TranAm, to distribute REALsafe® crash detection code cards to their 2,000 UK-wide dealer network.

Over 22,000 motor-cyclists now have the app installed on their smartphones, safe in the knowledge that should they be in an accident their location and pre-programmed medical details will be sent to the nearest ambulance service within minutes of a crash.

Connecting a community of people passionate about biking, REALRIDERÒ also features worldwide route recording, the ability to plan, store and share routes and locations, and a facility to store critical bike information in one place, plus the ability to provide bikers with MOT and service reminders straight from their phone.

Following their early success, and with momentum riding high, the duo looked for external investment in a drive to help scale the business and push REALRIDER® out to market. In the form of private investors, venture capital (VC) support and social enterprise loans, the duo have since managed to secure over £1m in funding.

Dr. Michael Dickens, fund manager at Rivers Capital Partners, who has followed their original investment in the company with £500,000 VC funding through its Business North East Angel Fund, said: “We have supported REALsafe® Technologies from the very start seeing the potential in the very early stages.

“Working together over the last four years we have built a strong partnership with the team and it is a pleasure to be able to commit further funds into the project at this critical time.“

As well as looking to source external funding, the company also decided to add some new faces to its board to help accelerate their ambitious growth plans. The first of these appointments saw Andy Scaife, CEO of Newcastle-based pharmaceutical manufacturer Quantum Pharmaceutical join its board.

Scaife pointed to its innovative technology and commerciality as a key reason for joining the ride. He commented: “I am thrilled at becoming chair of REALsafe®. I’m looking forward to working alongside the team to accelerate the company’s growth, hone its assets and maximise its significant market potential.

“REALsafe®Technologies is an excellent example of a ground-breaking, home-grown, North East technology company that I am proud to be involved with.”

Scaife replaced Hossain Rezaei who stepped down following retirement, after three years in the role. Farringdon praised the role of the departing Rezaei who helped the company achieve such rapid growth in a short space of time. She said: “We’d like to thank Hossain who has been an ardent advocate of ours over the last few years. 

“We also welcome Andy whose vision, experience in developing strategic relationships and identifying areas for future growth is second to none and will only serve to cement the foundations laid by Hossain. He is a true asset to have on board.”

Stephen Purvis, group CEO of Newcastle based SGP Technology Group who has also been invited to sit on the board, said: “I am delighted to have joined REALsafe®Technologies as both an investor and the board as non-executive chief technology officer. 

“REALRIDER® is at a particularly exciting point in its technology platform development which I am confident will serve as a broader catalyst and inflection point for future growth.”

Two years after being crowned BQ Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year, the duo have now found themselves in a position to proactively re-launch their product and have set about driving a commercial return from the app.

As Farringdon explains, "after a number of years in development we have now reached a point where we are ready to proactively launch our product and set about driving a commercial return."

“In order to do that the company needs to grow both in terms of staffing as well as insuring we have made REALRIDER® the best it can possibly be. The new round of investment will allow us to do that quickly and effectively.” 

The company has come a long way since the launch of its online forum back in 2012. We look forward to hearing of their future success and meeting the next generation of BQ Emerging Entrepreneurs tonight in Leeds.