Anyone who relies on their bike to get around, especially in major cities like New York and San Francisco, knows that bike theft is a huge problem. Current locks can be ineffective as theft deterrents, since thieves have found numerous ways to beat them. And good luck finding your bike once a thief gets his hands on it. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We now have the technology not only to digitally deter bike thieves, but also to be able to track a bike via GPS if a thief manages to take it home.
That’s what Lock8, which launched today at TechCrunch Disrupt Europe 2013 in Berlin, is all about. Not only is it designed to keep thieves from trying to take your bike in the first place, but if they do get it, you’ll know exactly where it is.
The device connects to your bike’s frame, so unlike your typical U-lock or chain, it’s always with you. And it doesn’t rely on the typical key that can be lost — Lock8 is paired to your smartphone, and you use its mobile app to lock and unlock the bike once the lock chain is connected.
Lock8 contains six sensors to determine if an attempted theft is underway — it can detect changes in temperature to the lock cable, it knows if the cable has been cut, and it can detect vibration and motion. Any of those things will trigger a 120-decibel alarm to scare a thief off. At the same time, the owner will be notified of the alarm via push notification and can track the bike’s movement.
While the primary use case for Lock8 is to keep your bike from being stolen and locating it if it somehow is taken, there are a few side benefits. Since the lock is unlocked via smartphone, customers can easily share their bikes with friends or even rent them out.
In fact, the Lock8 could be widely adopted by bike-rental agencies as a way to keep track of their fleets and keep them from being stolen — especially when rented by tourists who might not lock the bike properly.
CEO Franz Salzmann and CTO Daniel Zajarias-Fainsod, who met at Oxford, had been victims of bike theft. So they decided to design and produce a product that would not only protect their rides, but would also enable users to keep track of their bikes and lend them out to friends.
Now the team is ready to make the product available to customers. To start production, the company is launching a crowdfunding campaign. The team plans to retail the device for $199, but early backers will be able to purchase it for $149 by contributing to the campaign.
Question and Answer
Q: What about distribution model?
A: Our B2C model is happening now, but we’re working on a B2B strategy. We can go to hostels, hotels, bike rental shops. Every single city, we can put online.
Q: Is the business selling the lock, or the service?
A: It’s both. We’ll make money from selling the hardware, and also sell the service.
Q: What is the cost and how does that compare to normal locks? How many can you sell?
A: The lock on Kickstarter is 69 pounds. That’s a promotional rate, but we’d like to not have to increase this. If we can sell subscription we can subsidize the price of the lock. You can also earn back the extra money that you’ve spent by renting out the bike.
Q: What’s the durability?
A: It’s made out of the same material as bulletproof glass — we’re very comfortable with the material.