Startup in Brussels Cowboy has been in the news lately for its cash burn rate. But the company wants to control its narrative again with some product and business news. Cowboy is launching a new feature called ‘AdaptivePower’, which automatically adjusts the motor’s power to the current slope and weather conditions.
Cowboy’s electric bikes are pretty basic – there’s no gearing and no + and – buttons to adjust the power of the motor. The company believes cycling should be as easy as hopping on the saddle and putting one foot on the pedal.
But that minimalist approach has a number of drawbacks. While the default power mode works fine in most cities, it’s not enough in hilly cities like San Francisco.
Instead of releasing a new bike with gears or buttons, the company is using the sensors in the existing Cowboy lineup, such as the gyroscope and accelerometer. While these sensors were originally included for detecting accidents and theft, they can be used to make the bike smarter. Based on actual torque, rpm and other factors, Cowboy automatically increases or decreases the power output of the trolling motor.
This feature is rolling out to Cowboy’s newest models released a few years ago: the C4 and the entry-level version, the C4ST. It will be an over the air software update. Once the update is installed, you will be able to choose between the ‘adaptive’ and ‘eco’ options in the mobile app for the engine power settings.
In other product news, the company is also releasing some new colors for the C4ST, as you can see in the image at the bottom of this article.
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New financing round at a lower valuation
In January 2022, Cowboy announced an $80 million funding round. Just over a year later, the company raises more money. But it is not disclosing the dollar figure of this new round of funding.
Of course, things have changed dramatically for tech startups. VC firms don’t deploy capital that quickly, and startup founders sometimes struggle to secure their next round of funding. For a hardware company like Cowboy, supply chain issues and inflation also had some impact on the company’s margins.
A few weeks ago, Cowboy co-founder and CTO Tanguy Goretti said a snappy LinkedIn post that the company was “closing a €15 million round” (that’s $15.8 million at the current exchange rate). From what I’ve heard, Cowboy ended up raising a little less, but an equity crowdfunding part will round out that round.
He also added in his LinkedIn post that this recent round of funding is a downward round. The company’s overall valuation is down 44% from the previous funding round. In other words, it’s a long and windy road for Cowboy and the past few months have been tougher than expected.
But the startup’s existing investors opted to put more money into the company, which should improve the company’s runway just before the peak season of Cowboy sales (between March and October). After some logistical challenges a year or two ago, Cowboy’s margins are back to where they should be.
With AdaptivePower, Cowboy can now think of other potential vehicles as well. This function would work particularly well with cargo bikes, for example. But there is nothing to announce on this front for now.
“2022 has been our best year ever with sales of €41 million and revenue growth of 2.7x year over year,” co-founder and CEO Adrien Roose said in a statement. Cowboy has sold 50,000 since 2018. And 2022 wasn’t that bad at all, as the company told me it managed to sell 20,000 bikes in one year.