How to convince a person that considers bicycles to be dirt and grease spraying machines to buy one as a means of transportation? For Marcin Piatkowski, the creator of the JIVR Bike, the answer lies not in technology from the 19th century but rather from the 21st. Electric, with an internal transmission, foldable and smart, the JIVR Bike wants to capture the attention of a growing urban population that demands a clean and efficient method of transportation, but is not willing to assume inconveniences like the effort involved in pedalling and the risk of theft.
To achieve this goal, the JIVR Bike, commercialized by the Company JAM Vehicles, contains an electric motor that assists in the pedalling up to speeds of 25 kilometers per hour, with a battery that lasts for 30 kilometers and needs only 90 minutes to recharge. But the real innovation lies in the design, which incorporates the transmission inside the frame. Given that the bicycle does not contain an exterior chain, there is no chance of the grease staining your clothing. And the JIVR Bike is a folding bicycle, which allows it to be stored easily, even right under your desk at the office.
“Our customers are not cyclists”, as this young, Polish entrepreneur points out. Piatkowski´s target market is made up of urbanites that live and work in the city. In fact, JIVR Bikes will not be sold in conventional bike stores. This innovator wants to differentiate his product as much as possible, and to this end he developed a market strategy based on evangelization. He has created a program of satisfied customers who act as ambassadors for the product, preaching the virtues of JIVR Bike to anyone who shows an interest.
Another differentiating factor is the free maintenance program he offers with the purchase of a JIVR Bike, although this will only be available initially to residents of London, England. Piatowksi explains it as follows: “When we buy a car, we don´t expect to have to tune it up ourselves, much less make necessary repairs on our own; we take it to a licensed mechanic”. In this case, the mechanic will make a home visit and provide a replacement JIVR Bike in the event the repairs cannot be completed on the spot. “You pay once, and you become a life-long customer”, he adds.
And to ensure that this is the case, he has created another loyalty program with instant bonifications based on JIVR Bike usage, like free coffee when you pass by a Starbucks. These, and other offers, reach the user through their mobile phone which connects to the bike via Bluetooth using iBeacon technology to receive notifications from businesses nearby. An app completes the JIVR Bike´s smart package, which allows the user to program their route, check usage statistics and other useful data regarding the bike´s performance, like the remaining battery charge.
The project arose from Piatkowski´s Technological Entrepreneurship Master´s Degree work at University College in London. The university decided to support the project financially and convert it into a successful start-up, and JIVR Bike completed a Kickstarter financing campaign which surpassed target financing goals. The sponsors will receive their bicycles in September of this year, and from that point forward the general public will be able to order online or through a product ambassador at a price of around 2.000 euros.
To Thomas Rudolf, cofounder of Innovatika and D-RAFT and a member of the jury panel for MIT Technology Review´s Innovators Under 35 Poland awards, Marcin Piaktowski “demonstrates the ability to unite a beautiful design with the latest technology to create a truly unique product with international potential”.