Video: Startup Web Series Interviews Faraday CEO Adam Vollmer
The popular web series and podcast This Week in Startups swung through San Francisco recently and had a chance to sit down and talk with Faraday founder Adam Vollmer about bikes, design, and startup life with the show’s host Jason Calacanis.
Calacanis says that the Faraday Porteur is, “It is the most gorgeously-designed bicycle I have ever seen. But more importantly, it is an electric bicycle.”
Here’s some of the interview below.
Why did you want to design an electric bicycle?
“I’m an engineer definitely, and I can pretend at design. I can fake it well enough until somebody really holds me to it. I spent a long time at IDEO. It was a great place. If anything, I learned more of an appreciation for design. More than being able to design, I can appreciate design.”
Do you think the trend of electric bicycles will come to the US?
“I do think so. Most of Europe has really taken off for electric bikes. Europe has about a $5 billion market for electric bikes. In Europe, the average prices is about $2,000 and up. It’s a very premium product. Germany alone sold about one and a half million electric bikes last year.”
Why are the Germans so into electric bikes?
“The German, the Dutch, the Swiss. The British are kind of catching up. All of these countries have cultures around the bike. They have great infrastructure. People use bikes for transportation. In the Netherlands, 30% of people use bikes to get around. So electric bikes are an extension of that. With electric bikes, you go further faster. If you’re commuting to work, it takes half the time, and that’s huge. You take people that are already relying on bikes, and give them something that’s wonderful.”
How fast do you go on electric bikes?
“I think 25-30 mph starts to hit a good range. If you go faster than that, you start thinking about getting bigger tires or better breaks. The legal limit for an electric bike on a road in the US is 20 mph. The average commuter is in the 13-14 mph range.”
Why did you decide to make this into a company?
“We did this contest, and we won. There were maybe 40 contestants. It was a mix of independent frame builders, design firms, student teams… It was a great outcome, we got a lot of press. I had people that were both casual observers and industry folks that were saying, ‘This is outstanding. This is different from what we thought an electric bike could be. We think there’s great potential, and we’d like to see this in the market.'”
“At that point, I had been working night and weekends for three months on it. When you have that crazy enthusiasm, I threw my hat in. I went back to IDEO and said, ‘I’d like to pursue this.’ They ended up supporting me.”