This month, BikeBiz sits down with Stefan Sinnegger, general manager of PowUnity
Can you give us a little background on PowUnity?
PowUnity started in the winter sports sector. We launched an IoT solution for skis and snowboards. More and more retail partners then asked us to develop a similar product for e-bikes. In 2018, we consequently launched BikeTrax – a smart GPS tracker system for e-bikes.
Sales increased so rapidly from the first month that we decided to commit 100% to the e-bike market. Since the first recovery of an e-bike with the help of the GPS tracker, 2018 saw one success story follow hot on the heels of another.
What area(s) of the cycling market does PowUnity target?
We have three different target groups: e-bike manufacturers, fleet operators and riders. In the beginning, we offered the BikeTrax system exclusively to e-bike riders as a retrofit product. This allowed us to further develop our product and service as quickly as possible through direct end customer contact and to learn to understand the real problems of e-bike owners.
We are now passing on this know-how to the e-bike manufacturers in order to launch fully integrated and mature ‘connected e-bike solutions’ with them.
What makes PowUnity unique? What does it offer that its competitors perhaps do not?
PowUnity BikeTrax is installed in the e-bike and not on it. It is connected directly to the e-bike via a motor-specific cable interface. The owner connects to their e-bike via the PowUnity app. In the PowUnity app, the owner sees the location of the e-bike in real-time, receives an alarm in case of unauthorised movement, can save their e-bike data in the digital bike passport and send an automatically generated theft report including the location data to the police.
In addition, they can view and manage their routes in the route diary. If the e-bike battery is out, BikeTrax is supplied with energy via its own additional battery and later recharged from the e-bike battery. Furthermore, we offer our own fleet platform for the management of larger e-bike fleets as well as an API interface (programming interface) to integrate the PowUnity BikeTrax system into existing systems.
The cooperation with e-bike manufacturers goes much deeper and includes, for example, a manufacturer-specific co-branded app. The biggest competitive advantage is that we are equally active in the B2C and B2B sectors. Through direct end customer contact, we perfect our PowUnity BikeTrax system. Through the B2B sector, we are scaling.
In a rather bizarre twist of fate, COVID-19 has provided a significant boost to the cycling industry. What impact has it had on PowUnity?
Due to the strong growth and at the same time global supply bottlenecks (components), we are carrying a significantly higher stock.
What is your distribution model?
We cover the whole range: direct sales, distributors and sales agents. This mix works out very well for us. Depending on the country and its structure, sometimes one or the other performs better. We started in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and are now expanding to other European countries as well as to the US.
What are your more recent product developments?
We continuously expand our product range with new engine specific versions. Together with e-bike manufactures, we work on data bus communication and advanced features. We continuously improve our fleet-management software and service. We improve our telecommunication standards on an ongoing basis.
You mentioned the BikeTrax success stories. Are there any in particular you would like to share with our readers?
The number of success stories increased so much that we decided to come up with a new video series on YouTube called ‘BikeTrax Hits’. Every month we upload one new video where our customers explain how they successfully avoided a bike theft. In our most recent story, an e-bike sharing provider tells the story of a thief who rented several e-bikes and slept in several hotels without paying. They were able to catch the so-called ‘holiday thief’ due to the BikeTrax GPS tracker system. In our most successful story, the police got 56 stolen e-bikes back due to BikeTrax.
What are your plans for 2021 and beyond?
In 2021, we will speed up the cooperation with more e-bike manufacturers and fleet operators as well as the expansion of our retailer base outside of Germany. We aim to become the industry standard for connected e-bike services.