Tech Innovators 2014: Blaze takes tech onto the road for urban cyclists

If you see the blinking image of a green bicycle moving into your peripheral vision, chances are it is the work of tech start-up Blaze.

 Tech Innovators 2014: Blaze takes tech onto the road for urban cyclists


Using new technological processes now being mass produced to meet growing demand, Blaze has developed a cycling light aiming to cut down on the amount of accidents occurring from blind spots.

Having already caught the attention of the Branson family through a $500,000 investment deal, the company has big plans to further shake up the urban cycling apparel sector.

Blaze

Based in: London

Founded in: 2011

No. of employees: 6

Company founder: Emily Brooke                           

Blaze founder Emily Brooke

Founder profile:

Emily Brooke began reading Physics at Oxford University but left to pursue product design in Brighton. There she created the Laserlight, a radical innovation to save cyclists’ lives and started her own company, Blaze, to realise it. Laserlight tackles the greatest cause of fatality – the blind spot and is the first in a range of products for urban cyclists worldwide.

Background business profile:

Blaze began as founder Brooke’s university project. After her final year exhibition, the concept for their launch product, the Laserlight appeared on every cycling blog in the UK and in the Sydney Morning Herald by the end of the year. Just two years later they are in full scale production in China and shipping around the world. The press interest in the company and product has been continued and incoming.

Inside track:

As one of the standout UK Kickstarter success stories, Blaze has gone from a academic project to a globally-distributed product – a true British success story. Based on extensive research and field studies, Blaze’s lead product, its Laserlight, is looking to cut down on what have been determined to be the biggest cause of cycling accidents.

The urban cycling market has experienced rapid growth in recent years, fuelled by factors such as the success of British cyclists on an Olympic and international stage as well as the recent Yorkshire visit of the Tour de France.

For someone who is now never found very far from a bicycle, Brooke only decided to get on one in 2010 when she cycled the length of the country. Getting the bike light from the state it was in originally, as a rough prototype submitted to tutors, so that it could be sold on mass has been a roller-coaster ride for Brooke.

‘At first I didn’t actual think I’d build the business myself,’ she explains. ‘I presumed I’d licence it to a manufacturer who would do it but, because of the project, I got accepted onto Entrepreneurship First [a start-up incubator for new and recent graduates].’

Brooke’s big struggles have been in managing a supply chain in China. To help with this, she decided to partner with PCH International – a product development and supply chain management services business which counts Apple and Beats Electronics as customers.

The business has now received approaches from cycling chains such as Evans, which is is now selling its product with, and already have new products in the pipeline to create a portfolio of urban cycling-related gear.

See also:

Recent milestones:

  • Completed Kickstarter goal in less than four days and now successfully fulfilled and delivered all backers’ rewards.
  • Raised additional finding from Index Ventures and Branson Family amongst some other valuable angels.
  • Shipping around the world since January and sold out of every batch of pre-orders.
  • Named as one of WIRED’s Top 10 Hottest Startups in London

Upcoming milestones:

  • Our first full Autumn/Winter season shipping
  • Global expansion, the business is extremely international already, with US sales overtaking UK, Japan is a big market, Canada, lots of Europe as well as Australia
  • Product roadmap development – Blaze has two future products already at final prototype stage
  • Growing the team from six to nine in next three months.

Recent technology:

Blaze’s launch product, the Laserlight, tackles the greatest cause of fatality – being caught in the blind-spot, or vehicles turning across an unseen bike. Laserlight is a front light, required worldwide by law, but it also has a laser, which projects the symbol of a bike down onto the road ahead. It alerts drivers in front of the bicycle of its presence and prevents them turning across the cyclists’ path.  

Products:

  • Laserlight
  • Laserlight accessories:  Extra brackets and charge cables
  • Blaze branded water bottles

Investors:

  • Angels
  • Index Ventures
  • Branson Family

Contact details:

27 Paul Street, London, EC2A 4JU

Email: info@blaze.cc

Tel: 0207 382 6333

Website: www.blaze.cc

View all 23 companies contained within Tech Innovators 2014

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