Start-up of the week: Haïku

4 Apr 2016

HAÏKU is a smart bike assistant for urban cyclists and digital nomads

Our start-up of the week is Haïku from Paris, which is building a bike assistant for smart urban cyclists.

“We are building Haïku, the first bike assistant for smart urban cyclists that gives them simple and safe access to all the information they need: clear GPS navigation, call and message notifications, and live ride statistics,” explained co-founder and CEO Grégoire Lanuad.

The company, which recently raised €66,771 in a successful Kickstarter campaign that targeted €55,000, will be one of the many European start-ups presenting at the upcoming Uprise start-up festival in Amsterdam on 20 and 21 April.

“Gesture controls ensure safety as the rider pulls information when she or he needs it.  Our powerful magnetic dock makes it very simple to set up Haïku on the handlebars, with automatic ignition and connection with the smartphone.”

The market

Haïku is targeting urban cyclists who have an active and nomadic lifestyle.

“In the smartphone era, new behaviours are emerging. I rely on Google Maps to find my way, I get used to tracking my ‘fitness’ habits and people that matter to me want to be able to reach me at any time. But when I am on two wheels, accessing this basic information can be inconvenient and dangerous.

“Haïku solves this problem as it is the missing link between the world of atoms we love, our bike,  and the world of bytes we need, our smartphone.”

The founders

Haiku team

Lanaud describes himself as a former finance guy and consultant. “I managed a lot of marketing and product projects with strategic and operational marketing, resources allocation, partnerships, finance, etc.”

Co-founder Fred Martin is a talented industrial designer, while hardware and software is led by Matt, a Bluetooth specialist, who worked on four connected devices, in start-ups and for bigger companies

“We have bike commuting experience of 30 years,” added Lanaud.

The technology

“Our application is leveraging the power and connectivity of the smartphone, using its GPS and data connexions,” explained Lanaud.

“Haïku connects to your smartphone with Bluetooth Low Energy to display the information that matters when you want to have access to it.

“We conceived Haïku as a non-intrusive piece of technology that works with the mechanical ride that is your bike. You zoom in on the info by waving your hand over Haïku. If you need information, it is there under your thumb. If you don’t want to be disturbed, stay focused on the road and enjoy the simple pleasure of a bike ride.

Lanaud said the ultimate goal is to create the best bike/smartphone accessory out there.

“And get more people on bikes, especially those who are scared of getting lost.”

Lanaud said that for the moment Haïku is focused on delivering its strong product and user experience vision and on shipping products to the company’s Kickstarter backers.

Ramping up for orders

“We are currently working on industrialisation with a reliable French manufacturer: prototypes look and work great and we’ll soon start the tooling process,” he said.

Meanwhile, Haïku is still available for pre-order at €80.

“We are also starting to get in touch with different types of retailers that are very eager to sell Haïku in their stores and online.”

The biggest challenge is to finish the manufacturing, scale the software and find the right distribution channels, “and still find some time to go for a ride with friends”.

Lanaud said he believes the European start-up scene is finding its feet, with great companies like Spotify, Blablacar and Deliveroo showing the way.

“We need more [European] start-ups to become leaders in their market before our American friends.

“The ecosystem still has a lot of things to improve, but I think it is already much better than a few years ago.”

His advice for other tech self-starters is to find a problem to solve, get a great team together and focus on execution.

“And don’t believe the hype,” he added.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years