A BeeLine to success

A BeeLine to success

Any urban cyclist can relate to the problem of navigation. Stopping to check Google maps, or worse riding with a phone in your hand, is at best frustrating, at worst dangerous. Luckily, London start-up BeeLine is set to make cycling easier and safer for all.

Passionate cyclists turned entrepreneurs Tom Putnam and Mark Jenner founded BeeLine last year with the aim of shaking up the navigation and cycling industries.

The duo have been friends since 2011 when they met working together in the city. Four years later, having gone separate ways for a while, they met up for lunch but got lost on their bikes on the way.

After laughing it off, they discussed how they must not be the only ones riding round in circles and how there must be a better way of navigating whilst riding, and BeeLine was born.

The BeeLine navigator widget can be mounted to a pedal bikes handle bars or even attached to the riders key chain or backpack.

It then links up to the user’s smart phone and harnesses a GPS from Google Maps to guide them on their journey – making navigation a whole lot easier for riders.

Speaking on what inspired them to launch the business, Tom told BQ: “It was genuinely just from us getting lost ourselves and frustrated with that.

“We started with the idea of strapping a standard compass to our bikes, but then thought about how we could make that smarter - we then landed on BeeLine and the Fuzzy Navigation concept.”

As well as being passionate cyclists, they’ve also proven they are successful entrepreneurs. As with most business ventures, and successful entrepreneurs, their determination to succeed with BeeLine has been driven by their passion for the industry.

Beeline

In little over a year the BeeLine team have built prototypes, proved traction with over 4,000 pre-orders in 40 countries, received international press coverage and are now in the final stages of setting up mass manufacture in China.

The next step for the duo was to scale up fast and fulfil their pre-orders. To achieve this, they decided to launch a crowdfunding campaign in a bid to raise a further £400,000 to help grow the company. So they turned to crowdfunding website Seedrs.

The month long campaign proved to be a resounding success and having overfunded by 20%, the duo raised a total of £516,425 from 355 external investors. Now, Putnam and Jenner are set to begin manufacturing their products and are excited to see what the future holds.

“We've now done crowdfunding twice,” Tom added. “Once for rewards (Kickstarter) and once for equity (Seedrs). Kickstarter in particular was absolutely crucial. That gave us both the capital we needed to push on and the market validation to keep us sane and to prove to investors that there's a demand for what we're building.”

Asked where he sees the company in five years time, Tom added: “That’s a tough question! We have a vision around building a presence around the world, selling products and making software that together enable people to have much more enjoyable journeys.

"However, we all know that no good plan survives first contact, particularly a five year one. So who knows, we might be making smart toasters by then!”

BeeLine is now taking on staff as it looks to fulfill its thousands of pre-orders and start really bringing the technology to market.

 

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