Recently, VanMoof, once the world’s most highly funded electric bike brand, filed for bankruptcy. This shocking development prompted an analysis of the company’s mistakes and how a different approach could lead to success.
Numerous industry experts have pointed out VanMoof’s missteps. They attribute the Dutch company’s failure to rapid expansion, excessive reliance on advanced technology, costly proprietary components, and difficulties in servicing their complex e-bikes for a growing customer base.
Tuuli Jevstignejev, an esteemed figure in the biking industry, recently shared her insights in a written piece. Having worked for major industry players, she is currently the CMO at Ampler Bikes. Her message was that simple beats sophisticated when it comes to e-bikes.
Tuuli emphasizes the challenge of maintaining quality and good customer service as the industry expands. Standardizing e-bikes, allowing people to service them on their own or at regular bike shops, is key to achieving this.
She disagrees with VanMoof’s approach of constantly introducing new e-bike models with cutting-edge features, similar to the smartphone industry. Instead, Tuuli advocates for a return to basics, making e-bikes more standardized and simpler.
Tuuli believes that launching new products frequently is wasteful and that incremental improvements on existing models can be just as effective. “You don’t always have to keep yourself in the game just by launching something new and shinier,” she recently told a panel.
Ampler Bikes, where Tuuli serves as CMO, exemplifies this approach. Ampler prioritizes building simple, attractive, and easily serviceable e-bikes. The company assembles its bikes by hand in its factory in Estonia.
Tuuli believes that e-bikes should be practical and long-lasting, like cars from the past. They should be designed for extended lifetimes rather than quick obsolescence.
Thus far, Ampler’s focus on simplicity seems to be working. Founded in 2016, Ampler’s valuation went from 0 USD to nearly 55 million USD in just five years. In addition, Ampler doubled its workforce in 2021.
Hopefully, other e-bike brands will embrace Ampler’s philosophy.
Image: An Ampler Axel e-bike. Image from Ananse Online, https://shorturl.at/bEV19