London-based cycling brand Blaze said Friday that it has closed $500,000 in seed funding. The investors were Index Ventures and the Branson family.
LONDON – 14 February 2014 – London-based Blaze announces the launch of the world’s first front bike light with a laser projection: the Laserlight. Designed to tackle the primary cause of cycling accidents – vehicles turning across an unseen bicycle – the innovation will equip cyclists to face the challenge of being seen on busy urban roads. The Laserlight is available to order worldwide today on the Blaze website, shipping starts on 26th February.
Blaze has also announced that it has raised $500,000 in seed funding from Index Ventures and the Branson family. The investment will be used to develop additional products that focus on other urban cycling challenges.
Dr Graham Hole, a driving psychologist at the University of Sussex comments: “Emily’s invention could be a major aid to detecting cyclists. It gives the driver advance warning of a cyclist’s approach, and provides the driver with an effective, highly visible shorthand message that it is a cyclist that is approaching. It projects the warning image on the road ahead, in locations that are more likely to be seen by other road users.”
“Cycling is booming – over half a million journeys are made by bike in London every day,” said Emily Brooke. “However personal safety is still by far the biggest barrier to participation, and the statistics are terrifying. This year in London, there have already been a staggering 14 fatalities with a chilling six in the space of 13 days alone.”
Bright green laser projection for better blind spot visibility
“The Laserlight is a damn good bicycle light first and foremost,” says Blaze founder and Laserlight inventor Emily Brooke. “But it also has a unique safety feature – a green laser that projects the image of a bike 5-6 metres onto the road ahead. This alerts drivers to unseen cyclists behind them and prevents them from turning across their path.
A huge number of cyclists involved in accidents – 79% to be precise – are simply travelling straight ahead when a vehicle manoeuvres into them. Having a laser projection that serves as early warning could be massively transformative to bicycle safety.”
Emily worked with cyclists, statisticians, the Brighton & Hove Council and Bus Company and driving psychologist Dr. Hole to understand the threat to cyclists, before working on a solution. Following a crowdfunding campaign and feedback from the Kickstarter community, the early prototype evolved to its current state of features.
From Entrepreneur First, to successful Kickstarter campaign, to retail launch
Blaze has a team of five working in East London, less than a year after their successful Kickstarter campaign and taking part in government initiative Entrepreneur First. The Laserlight is just the first in a range of innovative products to tackle the many factors that affect the pure enjoyment-factor of cycling.
Index Ventures Partner Saul Klein said: “Blaze is a great example of what is possible today – where anyone can create a game changing product, sell that product at scale worldwide, and partner with some of the best specialist brands – and all with very little initial capital. Emily and her team used Kickstarter to raise initial funding and to prove that Blaze is solving a real problem. From there, they attracted mainstream support from Evans in retail and PCH for global distribution. That’s the kind of team we are thrilled to support.”
Holly and Sam Branson added: “We see a huge amount of potential in Blaze as an urban cycling brand and so we wanted to get involved. Cycling is a rapidly growing activity, however the safety concerns are very real and the industry has seen very little innovation. We invest in entrepreneurial activities to help make a difference in the world and Blaze are a brand using exciting technology to make the experience of urban cycling better. Blaze’s perspective on cycling comes from the cycle mad team being on bikes every day and recognising the areas of greatest need first hand.”
The Blaze Laserlight comes with a host of features:
● A powerful laser diode: The new breed of laser is robust enough to withstand vibrations from the road. It’s powerful enough to project a 0.6 x 0.3m cyclist image on the ground five metres ahead.
● A bicycle light first and foremost: It uses bright white LEDs operating at three levels of brightness, in flashing and constant modes. The quality Sony lithium cells give the Laserlight greater mileage: 156 miles of riding at 12 mph when on flashing mode.
● Fully waterproof: The whole unit is sealed and fully waterproof up to 1 m – you could even ride with this light underwater!
● Smart bracket: The marine-grade steel bracket is an object of beauty , but it also doubles as a safety mechanism to ensure the laser cannot be used out of its bracket.
● Aircraft-grade aluminium casing: The tapered light has a sleek, sandblasted anodised aluminium finish and diamond-cut edges.
● Flush control panel: The control panel features two buttons to operate the light and laser, as well as neat magnetic pins for connecting the USB charging cable. The panel is backlit with green, blue and red LEDs that indicate battery level.
● Easy for wet hands, cold hands, gloved hands: On the underside of the light, a trigger-style clasp makes uncoupling with one hand easy, regardless of dexterity.
Emily says, “The laser we use in the light is the latest technology. We wanted every other aspect of the light to be top notch too. We believe the Blaze Laserlight is an outstanding bicycle light, but with an additional feature that could potentially save your life.”
Blaze is a cycling brand on a mission to upgrade urban cycling. To start, they reimagined the bicycle light so that even when caught in the blindspot, cyclists can make their presence known. Launched on Kickstarter in November 2012, Blaze recently shipped its flagship product, the Laserlight, to its first customers. Find out more at www.blaze.cc.
ABOUT INDEX VENTURES
Index Ventures is a leading venture capital firm investing in technology and life science companies. Based in Geneva, London and San Francisco, Index has backed a succession of visionary entrepreneurs, including the teams behind MySQL, Skype, Last.fm, ASOS and Betfair. Its portfolio currently consists of more than 150 companies in 20 countries including Criteo, Adyen, SoundCloud, Dropbox, Funding Circle, Nasty Gal and Etsy.