INNOVATORS VS COVID 19
E-Bike Boom during Pandemic Times: PowUnity Explains
We talked to Stefan Sinnegger of PowUnity about GPS anti-theft protection for e-bikes & Co and the effects of the pandemic.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Stefan Sinnegger: We are doing good, and the outlook that the vaccination-challenge is solved sooner than expected makes us very happy.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded PowUnity.
Stefan Sinnegger: My co-founding partners and I are passionate free-skiers and sportsman. We were faced with the challenge of loose skies in deep snow and be anxious about someone stealing our expensive equipment. Therefore, we developed an electronic product and app that helps you find your skies in deep snow and protect them from theft. After 2 years in the game, dealers and customers told us they would like to have a similar product for e-bikes. In 2018 we launched our e-bike product called BikeTrax. A GPS-based tracking device, especially for e-bikes. The sales of BikeTrax immediately went through the roof, and we decided to exclusively focus on e-bikes.
How does PowUnity innovate?
Stefan Sinnegger: From the very beginning, we challenge ourselves to take the lean-start-up approach seriously. This works especially well with the development of BikeTrax. We create a basic product, receive customer feedback, iterate, and promptly launch the improved product /feature. For this reason, we also keep customer service in-house. You can’t imagine the value of the feedback we receive day by day from our existing customers.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business?
Stefan Sinnegger: The e-bike market was already booming. With the corona crisis, it received another tremendous push. During springtime, the travel and movement restrictions led to an increased need for being in the outdoors and to exercise. This led to people buying more e-bikes. Additionally, commuters tried to avoid public transportation and thus bought an e-bike to travel between home and their workplace. The increased e-bike sales pushed the sales of our BikeTrax e-bike GPS-Tracker even further. In short: we can call ourselves very fortunate to be part of the bicycle industry.
How are you coping with that growth, and how does it challenge you?
Stefan Sinnegger: We have to keep a higher inventory due to the worldwide shipment delays and unstable situation during the corona pandemic. Therefore more capital is tied up. However, we are again very fortunate to have a strong partner on our side, who provides the necessary capital.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Stefan Sinnegger: I follow a healthy lifestyle by avoiding alcohol, caffeine, wheat (gluten), and eating healthy. As well as doing sports regularly and don’t work on Sundays.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Stefan Sinnegger: From the very beginning, we developed BikeTrax for e-bike owners as a retro-fit version for their existing e-bikes. Since this year, we additionally work together with e-bike manufacturers. They fully integrate BikeTrax into their e-bike models. This B2C/B2B approach is very powerful because B2C helps us to perfectly understand the end-consumer and develop BikeTrax perfectly for their needs. The learnings are then transferred to our B2B partners. Our competitors either focus on B2C or B2B. Those focusing on B2B do not understand the end-consumer as well as we do, those focusing on B2C do not scale as fast as we do.
Your final thoughts?
Stefan Sinnegger: I’m confident that the worldwide pandemic is being under control very soon and hope that those businesses who are not as fortunate as we are (e.g., those in the tourism sector) will recover well.
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