Wij willen met u aan tafel zitten en in een openhartig gesprek uitvinden welke uitdagingen en vragen er bij u spelen om zo, gezamelijk, tot een beste oplossing te komen. Oftewel, hoe kan de techniek u ondersteunen in plaats van dat u de techniek moet ondersteunen.

Cake has crafted the Swedish edition of electric motorcycle design starting in the dirt.

The Stockholm based mobility startup’s debut, the Kalk OR, is a 150 pound, battery powered two-wheeler engineered for agile off-road riding and available in a street-legal version.

On appearance, Cake’s Kalk has a minimalist stance and doesn’t evoke “motorcycle” in any conventional sense.

That was intentional, according to the company’s CEO, Stefan Ytterborn — a design aficionado and serial founder — who was more of a mountain biker and skier than a motorcyclist, before launching Cake with is two sons Karl and Nils.

“I wasn’t a motorcycle geek…I actually learned how to ride a motorcycle,” he explained on his foray into the business.

Ytterborn has worked in design development his entire career, leaving Sweden for Milan in his early days, developing product lines for IKEA in the ’90s and founding several design oriented companies over the years.

His last venture — outdoor sporting gear venture POC — supplied Olympic gold medalist Bode miller and the U.S. Ski Team with helmets and optics before it was acquired by Investcorp in 2015 for a reported $ 65 million.

Cake Motorcycles

Cake’s Kalk OR, Image Credits: Cake

Ytterborn’s current company shares some similarities with POC, namely creating products for natural forward motion in the outdoors.

The direction for Cake — according to its founder — was to design a motorcycle from a clean slate, harnessing the advantages of what voltage power could offer to the form.

“I was stoked by the idea of what an electric drive-train could bring,” Ytterborn told TechCrunch . “But then I started realizing nobody is really optimizing the performance of the electric drive-train. Everyone’s trying to imitate what the combustion motorcycle does,” he said.

One of the first things Ytterborn took from that view was engineering a lighter platform with a better power to weight ratio.

A distinguishing characteristic of most e-moto offerings, including the few oriented toward off-road use, is they are heavier than gas motorcycles. Even one of the lightest choices out there for street and dirt use, Zero’s FX, weighs nearly 100 pounds more than Cake’s Kalk OR.

The $ 13,000 Swedish e-motorcycle has a 2.6kWh battery, charges to 80% in an hour and a half using a standard outlet, and offers up to three-hours of off road ride time, according to Cake. The Kalk has 30 ft-lbs of torque and a top speed of 50 miles per hour.

The street legal version, the Kalk&, has similar specs with a mixed city/highway range of 53 miles. Both have capability for quick battery swaps and a second battery goes for $ 3,000.

Cake introduced an additional model in 2020, the $ 8,500 Ösa+, which the company characterizes as an urban utility moped with off-road capabilities.

Cake’s Ösa+, Image Credits: Cake

As a startup, Cake has raised $ 20 million in VC, including a $ 14 million Series A financing round led by e.ventures and Creandum in 2019.

The U.S. is a prime market for the company. Cake has a subsidiary in Park City, Utah, a U.S. representative — Zach Clayton — and is poised to open a sales store in New York City this quarter. 

The company has sold 300 motorcycles in the U.S. this year and America makes up 60% of its sales market, according to its CEO.

On where the Cake fits into motorcycle market, “We’re much more Patagonia than Kawasaki,” said Ytterborn,

He described Cake as something developed for a far from static mobility world, where everything about how people move from A to B is being redefined, including the concept of the motorcycle.

That entails creating something that captures the exhilaration of riding off-road for an eco-conscious market segment, put off by the noise and fumes of gas motocross bikes.

“What really got me going was the intuition that we could flip the market upside down [with Kalk],” said Ytterborn.

Cake’s street legal Kalk&; Image Credits: Cake

“It’s silent, it doesn’t disturb, it doesn’t pollute and is the opposite of what non-motorcycle people associate with motorcycles,” he said.

The U.S. motorcycle market could use some fresh ideas, as it’s been in pretty bad shape since the last recession, particularly with young folks. New sales dropped by roughly 50% in 2008 — with sharp declines in ownership by everyone under 40 — and have never recovered.

At least one of the big gas manufactures — Harley Davidson — and several EV startups, such as Zero, are offering e-motorcycles as a way to convert gas riders to electric and attract a younger generation to motorcycling.

It’s notable that Harley Davidson acquired a youth electric scooter maker, Stacyc, in 2019 and has committed to produce e-scooters and e-mountain bikes as part of its EV pivot. The strategy is to use these platforms to create a new bridge for young people to motorcycles in the on-demand mobility world.

HD’s moves could provide some insight on where Cake might fit in that space. On one hand, the startup’s models could become premium electric motorcycles for the eco-friendly, Outside Magazine and action sports crowd. On the other, Cake could fill a new segment on the mobility product line — somewhere between e-scooters, e-bikes and traditional motorcycles.

“We want to establish a new category where people with an active lifestyle, whether they’re motorcycle people or not, can proceed with sustainability, responsibility and respect,” said CEO Stefan Ytterborn.

One challenge for this thesis could be Cake’s price and performance points compared to the competition. Zero Motorcycle’s FX, while heavier than the $ 13,000 Kalk, starts at $ 8,995 and has a top speed of 85 miles per hour.


TechCrunch

In a blog post today, YouTube announced that it’s finally bringing its fact-checking information panels to the U.S. First introduced in Brazil and India, the expansion comes as COVID-19-related misinformation and conspiracy has proliferated online and through certain media.

Fact-check articles will begin appearing in relevant search results, using informations pulled from a dozen or so third-party publishers, including The Dispatch, FactCheck.org, PolitiFact and The Washington Post Fact Checker. The site is leveraging ClaimReview’s article tagging system, which is also used by Google Search/New, Bing and Facebook.

In the post, YouTube specifically cites concerns around COVID-19-related misinformation as a driving force in the feature’s expansion, noting the difficulty in keeping up with a rapidly changing news cycle.

“Our fact check information panels provide fresh context in these situations by highlighting relevant,” the company writes, “third-party fact-checked articles above search results for relevant queries, so that our viewers can make their own informed decision about claims made in the news.”

The move doesn’t directly involve the takedown of offending videos. Instead the plan is to offer users context as they search for information on a given subject. The feature will no doubt have mixed results, depending on how committed a user is to a given theory or source. People who are already dug in on notions of COVID-19 as a hoax are not likely to be swayed by contextual information from PolitiFact or the Washington Post. That’s just the nature of the post-information hellscape in which we all currently reside. 

It echoes a similar move from Facebook earlier this month, which alerts users when they’ve interacted with “harmful misinformation” about the virus. Twitter, too, has expanded its own guidelines around coronavirus related tweets, removing some of the offending misinformation around theories involving things like 5G.

YouTube says the new feature “will take some time for our systems to fully ramp up.” That involves both refining the system, the features efficacy and eventually rolling it out into even more markets.


TechCrunch

Adriel is a South Korean startup bringing automated ad tools to small businesses — and in recent months, it’s been expanding into the United States and the United Kingdom.

This might seem like exactly the wrong time to be growing an ad-buying platform, since we’re at the beginning of what’s likely to be a tremendous pullback in ad spend due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, co-founder and CEO Sophie Eom told me via email that ad spend on Adriel increased by 7% in February, then by 6% in March, and she estimated that spend will be up by 8% in April.

“We all know that businesses are struggling from the uncertainty of the economic situations with COVID-19,” Eom said. “And most are hesitant about hiring agencies for their marketing and advertising efforts due to the high costs — in addition to the fact that many corporates don’t have enough knowledge about the right marketing processes.”

So why is Adriel still seeing growth? She argued, “We see that even in the midst of tough times, many startups and entrepreneurs are not giving up their businesses. In fact, they are shifting their focus and investments into more digital to reach their customers.”

As part of its response to COVID-19, the company is also donating ads to support small business customers in the San Francisco area.

Adriel’s technology automatically generates creative materials and suggests keywords for ads, as well as managing the targeting. But there’s also a human team that reviews campaigns and suggests ways to improve. The company does not require retainers or contracts, but charges a 19% fee on ad spend.

I first spoke to Eom at the end of 2019, when she was first expanding Adriel into the U.S. In some ways, it felt like a familiar pitch — I’ve written about companies like AdEspresso (acquired by HootSuite) and Smartly.io (which sold a majority stake to Providence Equity Partners last year), which also said they were optimizing or automating small business advertising. Plus, Facebook itself has launched an automated ad builder.

Eom suggested that while there are tools that sound superficially similar, there’s nothing quite like Adriel (which was part of Facebook’s Namsam Lab Korea incubator), with its multi-platform support for managing Facebook, Google and Instagram ad campaigns in one place, and with its focus on the true “long tail” of advertisers — she said the average Adriel client spends a relatively modest $ 1,000 per month on digital advertising.

“We’re not merely a self-service tool either,” she said. “We support and assist our clients in getting their ad placed, making their campaign more successful. We use technology to make all these processes more affordable for more business owners.”

She added that Adriel has launched 7,200 campaigns for nearly 20,000 business accounts.


TechCrunch

It’s finally Bag Week again! The most wonderful week of the year at TechCrunch. Just in time for back to school, we’re bringing you reviews of bags of all varieties: from backpacks to rollers to messengers to fanny packs.

I’ve been meaning to check out a Herschel bag for a while now, just to see what all the fuss is about. The Vancouver-based company has really exploded on the scene here in New York City over the past few years. The packs seemed to go from virtually non-existent to every backpack over night.

With Bag Week rapidly approaching, I asked Herschel to send along whichever laptop backpack they recommended, and received the Retreat in the mail. I’ll be honest, the bag is a bit of a 180 from my usual. Doing what I do for a living, I’ve adopted a bit of a more is more approach when it comes to backpacks — more pockets, more slots. I’ve got something for all of them.

CMB 7976

The Retreat presents a far more stripped-down approach. There’s the primary compartment with a slightly padded and fleece-lined laptop sleeve, and a medium-sized pocket on the outside with no zipper or snap. I appreciate the stripped-down approach — perhaps loosing some of my cables and gadgets could go a ways toward clearing my head. For now, however, it’s a bit too minimalistic for my day to day commuter backpack needs.

CMB 7972

I have, however, found a spot for it in my life as a handy gym bag. There’s not a ton of volume here, but it’s plenty sufficient for gym clothes and a pair of running shoes. It’s solid, too, for those days when you’re feeling liberated enough to leave the house with little more than your laptop. I need to get better than that, and reckon the Retreat could help.

The build is solid. Herschel completely eschews zippers here. Instead, the mountaineering-style pack has a top flap that closes with magnetic snaps at the end of long leather straps. There’s also a drawstring to better close the top compartment. That should keep things in, though I probably wouldn’t recommend getting caught in a downpour with a laptop inside.

CMB 7975

It’s nice to look at as well — the only drawback here being that you’re bound to see a lot of fellow travelers sporting the same model. Or heck, maybe that’s even more motivation to pick one up — you do you. The black and brown (though there are a full 38 color options from which to choose) is offset nicely by the red and white interior lining.

At $ 80 (and less, depending on where you buy), the price is also right for what amounts to a solid — if simple — bag.


TechCrunch

Y Combinator has become one of the key ways that startups from emerging markets get the attention of American investors. And arguably no clutch of companies has benefitted more from Y Combinator’s attention than startups from emerging markets tackling the the logistics market.

On the heels of the success the accelerator had seen with Flexport, which is now valued at over $ 1 billion — and the investment in the billion-dollar Latin American on-demand delivery company, Rappi, several startups from the Northern and Southern Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia have gone through the program to get in front of Silicon Valley’s venture capital firms. These are companies like Kobo360, NowPorts, and, most recently, Trella.

The Egyptian company founded by Omar Hagrass, Mohammed el Garem, and Pierre Saad already has 20 shippers using its service and is monitoring and managing the shipment of 1,500 loads per month.

“The best way we would like to think of ourselves is that we would like to bring more transparency to the industry,” says Hagrass.

Like other logistics management services, Trella is trying to consolidate a fragmented industry around its app that provides price transparency and increases efficiency by giving carriers and shippers better price transparency and a way to see how cargo is moving around the country.

If the model sounds similar to what Kobo360 and Lori Systems are trying to do in Nigeria and Kenya, respectively, it’s because Hagrass knows the founders of both companies.

Technology ecosystems in these emerging markets are increasingly connected. For instance, Hagrass worked with Kobo360 founder Obi Ozor at Uber before launching Trella. And through Trella’s existing investors (the company has raised $ 600,000 in financing from Algebra Ventures) Hagrass was introduced to Josh Sandler the chief executive of Lori Systems.

The three executives often compare notes on their startups and the logistics industry in Northern and Southern Africa, Hagrass says.

While each company has unique challenges, they’re all trying to solve an incredibly difficult problem and one that has huge implications for the broader economies of the countries in which they operate.

For Hagrass, who participated in the Tahrir Square protests, launching Trella was a way to provide help directly to everyday Egyptians without having to worry about the government.

“It’s three times more expensive to transport goods in Egypt than in the U.S.,” says Hagrass. “Through this platform I can do something good for the country.”


TechCrunch

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