Bike light firm quickly raises £24k for its smartphone-linked product
A Co Down husband and wife-led bike light firm has raised more than £24,000 in just hours to develop its latest project - while overall sales have trebled in the space of a year.
Newtownards business See Sense got off the ground in 2013 after an initial Kickstarter campaign. And it returned to the crowd-funding platform to help develop its new smart light, which feeds back reams of key data to a user's smartphone.
Now, just two years later, the company - run by Philip and Irene McAleese - has shifted around 8,000 of its innovative smart bike lights.
"The target for the new project was £24,000, and we went live at 5pm on Thursday, and achieved it in less than a day," Irene McAleese said.
The new Icon light uses similar sensors to the original See Sense light, but this time connects to a smartphone.
Some of its uses include alerting cyclists if their bike is being stolen, or if they are involved in a crash, it can be set to automatically contact someone. "It provides some fantastic features for cyclists, such as theft alerts if someone comes to steal their bike," Ms McAleese said.
"The other thing is a crash alert, where it can send a contact a text message."
But the sheer amount of data produced can also be used to collectively map and record the environment.
"There will be future features coming. What we are hugely excited about is what we can do with the data," Ms McAleese said. "For example, councils can then use that information to build information and improve and build environments for cyclists.
"With our technology, potholes can be detected when they are forming, which can give councils a heads-up."
And Ms McAleese said the business has "gone from strength to strength".
She said: "Since we launched two years ago, Chain Reaction Cycles now stocks the lights, along with 60 bike shops.
"Google are stocking us in their staff perk schemes.
"We have sold more than 8,000 lights and sales have almost tripled.
"We have only been trading for two years, but we are keeping the brand going and building awareness."
See Sense has just been nominated for a BikeBiz award and has walked away with a number of other business gongs.
It has also grown its workforce to eight and with its new product helping feed back key data to smartphones, it's teamed up with Queen's University to help analyse the information.
"Our vision is to create a network of these smart, safe lights, and expand out avenues to market, establishing routes to major retailers and online," added Ms McAleese.
"We will try to expand that, and create a larger presence in the US, as well as integrating with bike schemes."