For our latest Behind The Raise interview we speak to Linas Pozerskis and Crystal Drury the co-founder of smart-EV and energy storage startup WAU (We Are Universal). They talk to AIN about their mission to transform the electric bike market, top tips for raising investment and why shortening supply chains has improved the startup’s capacity to innovate.
Tell us about WAU bikes and how you both came up with the idea
The problem we identified was that there was no 2-wheel EV platform on the planet that would take all large 4-wheel EV perks and raw sex appeal and make it portable. Our solution was to provide a powerful/portable alternative to full size Smart EVs such as Polestar, Tesla, Lucid, etc.
What is the problem you are looking to solve?
There are four key problems our solution solves for. The first is Eliminating range anxiety (providing the longest range – ie. the Duracell factor!) The second is building a powerful road presence with the world’s first full 360 smart lights (preventing road accidents). The third is Worldwide tracking as standard (theft prevention). Finally Supercharging (fast charging).
In short, shrinking the 4-wheel smart-EVs into a portable 2-wheel base with all tech and performance already onboard. Also it worth noting that no matter how much press large EVs receive, their drivers still suffer from and need a portable alternative/companion to avoid four things:
1) High price tags
2) Getting stuck in severe traffic
3) Lack of charging infrastructure
4) Councils pushing all cars IC or EV out of city centres worldwide due to unsustainable urban congestion.
What initially attracted investors to your company?
The incredible upsides with investing in this business and the powerhouse core team behind WAU as a start-up. EVs are only in their infancy and our team bridges the divide between Tech and EVs. As you can imagine for anyone participating as an investor in a growing smart-EV start-up this is an extremely exhilarating, exciting and, of course, high return equation.
What has the funding enabled and your top priority going forward?
Honestly, countless improvements, but if we were to focus on the top 3:
1 – Start to advance the WAU Auto-Pilot mapping.
2 – Doubling the production volume at the Essex plant to keep up with growing customer demand.
3 – Move the central HQ from Nottingham to Birmingham (8 times larger talent pool) to successfully hire senior talent from Google, large EV brands, Gymshark, etc. all to quickly expedite front-end growth of WAU as a growing smart-EV brand.
Why did you raise via Angel Investment Network?
We initially started raising via an Indiegogo campaign. In under 2 months from a cold start the Indiegogo campaign exploded to over $320k+ in pre-orders (half is off the platform as the $174k was only pre-order down payments only). We were all blown away by the demand for smart 2-wheel EVs and knew that this could be something absolutely incredible.
Following this initial success, we were in Silicon Valley in San-Francisco at an investors’ events. A couple of investors mentioned Angel Investment Network as one of the best investment networking platforms out there. We quickly jumped on LinkedIn and decided to reach out to one of the original AIN founders and see if they liked our Indiegogo campaign. After the connection was made the rest was history!
What is your top tip for anyone raising investment for the first time?
Firstly, never fall into the ‘solopreneur’ trap. You can’t do it all on your own.
We fell for this early in the journey but quickly learnt that all success and brand longevity will absolutely be determined by who joins your team. You have to ensure there is both a culture and skillset fit before onboarding anyone (including investors). But when you start to onboard hungry, driven, skilled talent, that is when the magic happens and that will build your success.
As founders we are the enablers for great talented employees to shine and do their best.
Secondly, Traction is KING. Early-stage investors want to see that you have users/customers and have passed the sketch on the napkin stage. Investors can handle higher calculated risk but not a roulette wheel.
My biggest fundraising mistake was…
Not reaching out to AIN sooner. This would have expedited talent acquisition much faster in the early days leading to an even faster take-off.
With the bikes being designed, tested, programmed, and manufactured in the UK you are clearly championing local manufacturing. Why was this important?
Firstly, incredibly fast hands-on innovation. When a new idea, trend, technology, etc. arises we can now avoid spending any unnecessary time flying all around the world. Instead we go from our Birmingham HQ down to Essex and implement it right away with the design team and production line working seamlessly.
Secondly it provides perfect opportunities for mass EU and global export without any trade issues. Thirdly we are also proud of our role in stimulating the UK economy, supporting local jobs, and bringing back mass manufacturing to the UK.
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