Halfbike, one of the most heavily crowdfunded means of transport ever, has just closed its third campaign on Kickstarter. The Bulgarian company raised $317K, exceeding its initial goal more than three times. In the next months, 700 pieces of the third generation Halfbikes will be delivered.
Crowdfunding appears to be a working model for the company – the team has already had two fully pledged campaigns raising $81K for the first Halfbike and the impressive…. $973k for Halfbike II (a.k.a the second generation). This made Halfbike the highest-funded mean of transport on Kickstarter for 2015, backed by more than 2.4K believers.
From old bike disaster to Red Dot
It all started as an experiment. The first prototype was made from old bicycle parts, and as Martin Angelov, co-founder at Kolelinia (the company behind Halfbike), jokes “the first attempt to ride it was a total disaster.” There is one unique feature ingrained in the philosophy of the product – it all comes down to the experience that a person can control a very small vehicle with the whole body.
“There was this very special feeling that you get from trying to ride this almost impossible to ride thing, that was catchy and fun at the same time”, recalls Mihail Klenov, Co-Founder at Kolelinia, smilingly. After many iterations the second generation – Halfbike II was born. In 2015 the enhanced version not only got close to $1M on Kickstarter but also won one of the most important design awards globally – the Red Dot Design Award for Mobility.
Currently, the Halfbikes are being handcrafted in Sofia, and the founding team of two has meanwhile expanded to ten enthusiasts. From the Bulgarian capital, Klenov and Angelov export to countries all over the world, with the US, the UK, Germany and France being the strongest markets. So far, they’ve shipped around 10K pieces, they say.
On Kickstarter, a piece of the latest generation cost around $500, outside the crowdfunding season it’s $700.
For young spirits and ultramarathon runners
There is no particular profile that really fit their user group. From Ultramarathon runners, trough Zumba instructor to adventurers and youtubers, people tend to quite like the Halfbike. And why not, since its initial spirit still stays untouched – just have fun.
We decided it’s fair to play with the vehicle firsthand and in the meantime to dig deeper into this story, so we went to speak with Martin Angelov and Mihail Klenov. And of course, try halfbiking. We have to say, it’s a bit more challenging than it looks at first sight. From the co-founders, we taught one should take around a month to exercise before going full speed. After that, it should be comfortable and fun.
“It has always been about making people smile when they ride, and just to remind them we are all born to move, and the more we do it, the better we feel,” smiles Mihail.