Matthew Rice and Mark Lawson set up Veloeye to combat the problem of bicycle theft. They talk to BQ about what inspired the idea and how they got the business off the ground.
What did you do before you started this business?
I run another company selling Solatube tubular daylight devices across Scotland and Mark runs a web development company
What inspired you to start up?
I bought a new mountain bike and had difficulties in getting insurance for it. Mark was managing one of my websites at the time and discovered similar issues with his road bike. I approached the Mountain Bike Centre of Scotland with the idea for Veloeye and they encouraged us to take it forward.
Tell us about your business in 100 words
Veloeye - a new bike security system which uses the power of social media to combat bike theft.
A Veloeye sticker on a bike acts as a thief deterrent allowing owners to immediately register a stolen bike through a smartphone app using a scannable QR code on the sticker. This sends out instant social media alerts with details of the stolen bike and warns other Veloeye users within a five-mile radius.
We are currently developing an innovative new product to take Veloeye further and provide both rider safety and bike security 24/7.
How would you describe your business to your grandma?
Veloeye is a bike security system that registers your details to the bike and allows you to tell thousands of people instantly if it has been stolen and where it was stolen from.
Where do you get advice, support or help?
We receive continual support from our Enabler at the Entrepreneurial Spark Hatchery as well as The Mountain Bike Centre of Scotland and Scottish Enterprise. As a result, we have been introduced to a diverse range of experts from Innovation specialists to legal teams or design houses and potential investors.
Finance is one of the most common barriers to starting up. How did you access the finance you needed?
Currently, we have received financial support from Scottish Enterprise and we also won a ScotEDGE Wildcard award. We are using that money to develop our innovative new device.
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
Winning a ScotEDGE Wildcard award has been one of the highlights so far but we have recently had a client’s stolen bike returned because of the Veloeye scheme. You don’t get a much better validation than that.
How do you differentiate your business from others?
Instead of waiting for somebody to find a stolen bike and then trying to identify the owner, Veloeye puts the power with the cyclist. By using the community of cyclists and social media Veloeye warns potential customers or shops if a bike has been stolen. This makes it far harder to sell and therefore less likely to be stolen. If the bike is found by the Police it is also instantly linked back to the owner.
What’s it like to be your own boss?
Being your own boss is both exciting and scary. You need to be disciplined and truly believe in what you are doing. There is no time off but the rewards are fantastic.
Where do you see your business in 5 years time?
Continuing to prioritise bike riders’ safety across the world and keep bike theft in the spotlight as a global issue.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Don’t be shy, if you have an idea tell someone. Go and see your local business support office and discuss what opportunities are available as they will be able to put you in touch with the right people. Always believe in yourself and be prepared for long hours. Speaking to likeminded individuals also gives you the opportunity to bounce ideas around which is encouraged, and apply for a place at Entrepreneurial Spark.