Mauro Pereira is the entrepreneur behind the start-up company Biketrace. Biketrace takes our bikes and us into the future. They are a service provider that makes bikes smarter and digitally connected. Biketrace is pioneering in integrating bicycles with smart cities and the Internet of Things.
You hired Marie from Öresund Strategy & Design as an industrial designer in your start-up work. Why and what has the designer contributed with?
I decided to hire an industrial designer because, obviously, an industrial designer would have a much broader insight in what is important for the user and how the user would approach the product, both physically but also in terms of the products appearance.
Apart from creating something that is aesthetically pleasing and functional, Marie really understood my vision of the product. One demonstration of that was the way she combined my insight of the lock, with awareness of how current smart devices look. Combining these two together… for me, this was a very genius move!
As a designer, it is important to be tactful, and I think Marie was very tactful. She was looking at my idea and understood; “Okay, this is Mauro’s baby. This is how he likes it to be. But hang on a minute, this is not good, smart and contemporary design.” Marie combined my old, tacky, robotic, Transformer vision, with a new, modern, simplistic and smart design. I really liked this!
This is something I had in mind. An industrial designer will be able to express, in a better way, what it is that I am trying to do. And the resulting product design reflects my initial assumptions.
What concrete benefit does design give your company?
One concrete benefit of the design work is that the product design has a recognition with existing bike locks. That means that the users will not be facing something completely new they have not seen before. Of course, the lock is unique and it will be appealing, modern, smart and simplistic, but it still relates to something they are already quite used to on a daily basis.
Another benefit is that the design reflects modern day’s smart devices in the way it looks, in the way it is presented and in the way it has been designed. It is a combination of the overall shapes and the signposting that will make it easier for the user to understand and use the product. Details like the sign for fingerprint, one sign for when the device is connected and another one for when the Bluetooth is connected is examples of this.
The designer’s focus has been on the user, rather than technology. You know, sometimes, as a hardware developer, you tend to focus only on the way you see on the product. Here Marie came in as an industrial designer, understood and respected how the product has been conceptualized, but added thinking about how the user experiences it, how the user will attribute functionality and how it will be used. There is an element of user focus as well, in the design of the way it will be mounted, the place where the screws are going to be placed and so on.
All this design thinking makes a difference. If you compare the two versions, you will see a massive difference. From what I conceptualized, to what Marie added to it…. It is a huge positive development!
From just being focused on how I conceptualize, to putting the user as a center, how the user experience the product and interact with it… This is a massive step-up, I would say.
What advice would you like to give other start-ups when it comes to design?
Be passionate about what you want to do, but also listen to other people’s experiences. In this case, I sat down with Marie, listened to what she had to say about the product and took advantage of her experience. So my advice is, set yourself a time to go out there, prototype something quickly, have a feeling for it, get a bit more insight as to what you want and then get that passed over to an experienced industrial designer who can look at your ideas and develop it to the next level.
Being flexible is also an important thing, I would say. You are not going to have the final product straight away. I know it will require re-tweaking and changes here and there. In terms of speed, it is very difficult, because as an entrepreneur you are constrained by the resources you got around you.
Another important thing is to get the timing right. The market shall be mature enough to understand the product and appreciate it. When I look at the timing, I think that the market is not 100% ready for my smart bike lock yet. I see a few companies with the same type of products struggling a little bit so it is a question of observing what is happening, and what sort of challenges they have. I try to learn from others and avoid mistakes.
Here you find more about Mauro and Biketrace:
Read more about the design concept:
ARTICLE SOURCE: Öresund Strategy & Design