MotionLab.Berlin – Hardware Innovation Hub & Makerspace

Boréal Bikes – talking hardware

Talking Hardware Louis

„What has been the most rewarding part of running a startup has been finding the ability to push your own boundaries and limits, getting out of your comfort zone and gaining the ability to do things you thought previously were impossible.“

Talking Hardware features existing and new members of our community, in form of a digital interview. 

This week we talked to Louis Huard, co-founder and Lead Designer of Boréal Bikes.

 

Have fun reading and leave a comment if you have questions or feedback. 

Give us your 30 seconds elevator pitch. What is it that you are working on? And who are the masterminds behind your company?

We are on the verge of eliminating road fatalities for cyclists by introducing an ADAS for
bikes. ADAS stands for Advanced driver-assistance system. ADAS are ubiquitous on
trucks and on newly produced cars. These devices provide assistive and active safety to its
users, and as a result fatal accidents involving cars and trucks have been falling. The reality
for bikes and e-bikes is quite the opposite. For this reason, we want to make cyclists as safe
or even safer than drivers of cars and trucks by providing a similar smart solution. Yes, an
ADAS for bikes. We have spearheaded this concept since 2015, and have been working
with researchers and scientists from world-renowned institutions to make such a system a
reality for cyclists.

Why did you decide to start working on a hardware idea?

The goal of our startup is to make sustainable mobility as safe as it can be. The availability
of the hardware technology to create an active safety system for cyclists and other
vulnerable road users that derives from automotive and IoT technologies is finally here. The
connectivity needed to make such a system a reality has reached ubiquity. As cycling
enthusiasts, we thought the moment was ripe for such an approach for sustainable mobility.

Holoscene
Why did you choose the city of Berlin to found a company? Do you think the city has an impact of how successful your project will be?

We chose Berlin because we live here. I arrived here in 2007 long before the company was
founded. Berlin’s reputation has been part of our success. However, most of our traction, our
mentorship, early clients, academic and corporate support, grants and funding has come
from outside of Berlin.
Nevertheless, we do believe that Berlin has played and will continue playing a key role in our
success, but not as we planned initially.

If you could have one additional skill in your team, who would get it, what would it be and why?

We are always looking for someone who is deeply passionate about sustainable mobility,
who has a good understanding of current vehicular active safety technologies, from sensors
to edge computing, and is committed to bringing such technologies to the domain of
sustainable mobility. Someone who shares our belief that heavy vehicles should not be the
only beneficiaries of this technology, but who also believes that vulnerable road users should
also be the focus.

What do you want to achieve with your startup apart from getting money and fame? 😉

Like most founders, we want to make this world a better place. We believe that making
Active Safety technology ubiquitous and readily accessible to vulnerable road users will
certainly contribute to this change.

What was your biggest fuck up during your startup career?

Thinking locally instead of globally.
For example, we assumed manufacturing is a simple operation that could be done locally in
Berlin. The truth is far different. We are now convinced that you can not find all the expertise
in one local startup ecosystem. Berlin has its strengths and weaknesses, it is important to
recognize this at an early stage.
Berlin should not the be-all and the end-all of your startup. If that was the case, we wouldn’t
be here right now.

Which is the part of running a startup, that scares you the most and which is most fun?

I think the idea of not being able to deliver a milestone or a product to a client or a
stakeholder has been my greatest fear. What has been most rewarding, I wouldn’t say
necessarily most fun, has been finding the ability to push your own boundaries and limits,
getting out of your comfort zone and gaining the ability to do things you thought previously
were impossible.

Would you rather have one real get out of jail free card or a key that opens any door?

I don’t think neither should be handed to a true entrepreneur. Being challenged by a
barrier of some sort is the raison d’être! Figuring your way out is the reason you are
doing this. As for the key that opens any door, I don’t think you’ll ever understand its true
value if it is just given to you.

When was the last time you really celebrated a success and what was it about?

We will never celebrate our successes, not until we become a multi-planetary species.
Seriously, we are quite excited about our partnerships with Orange France, Fraunhofer
IVI Dresden, as well as being part of a consortium for the most important connected bike
Research project in Austria. It is always reassuring to know that we are not the only
crazy ones to believe in connected bikes. The journey ahead towards absolute road
safety or zero road fatality although very promising is a challenging one. There are so
many stakeholders to make this happen. So we do celebrate every encouraging
moment.

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Why are you at MotionLab.Berlin?

At MotionLab.Berlin, we enjoy the support we get from the community. I think it’s a great
atmosphere for exchanging ideas, meeting new people, as well as your stakeholders and
your clients. So inspirational and the energy is just here.

Would you rather have the skills to see 10 minutes into your future or to reset what happened in the last 10 minutes?

We are already working on technology that will help you see in the future on the road so
you can avoid collisions and accidents, so I would choose the latter.

What is your favorite song, that motivates you and brings you through a tough working day?

Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing

What is the current status of your company?

We are in Recruitment/Seed Funding/Product Development/Consultancy phase.

Are you currently looking for something specific? Investors, specific knowledge or positions?

We are looking for a technical co-founder with an understanding of ADAS and ITS
(Intelligent Transport Systems) and investors that have an understanding of the
opportunities in our space. We are also looking for someone with a knowledge of global
hardware manufacturing ecosystems.

If the 14 year old you would read this interview, what is the one thing you want him to know?

Figure out what you want to do in your life, find out how it can have a positive impact on
your environment, and just go for it with all your heart. You do reap what you sow.

Who is probably the proudest person in your circle of what you have achieved in the last years?

This may sound selfish, but I do it for myself. Momentarily, I am proud of things I accomplish.
Sometimes, I hope my kids will appreciate what I am doing in the future, because ultimately
I believe what I’m doing is for them and future generations.

When was the last time you got really sick of what you are doing and why?

We just recently finished a project and were 2 months late, mostly because of the lack of
available resources due to corona. We were crunching until we made it, and could
deliver. Just hitting a milestone and getting better at what you do gives ample reason to
do this.

If someone invested 1 million euro in your startup tomorrow, what would you use the money for?

I think HR and talent. Finding the people that have the absolute best fit for tasks to be
done and the company, and securing enough runway to get our products and services to
market.

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