In our final installment of our 6 part campaign, we present Julie Kronstrøm to talk about what it means to her to BE YOUR OWN Boss in the 21st century.
I am a native Copenhagener, born and raised in this beautiful city in the north that many call the bicycle capital of the world. Surrounded by bikes all year round, over two years ago I and my little brother had this realization that bikes haven’t really been touched by the technological revolution of the past twenty years or so. This inspired us to start working on a bike that would improve upon not only the electric bike as it exists today but how biking is understood in general. With MATE the idea is to combine technology, with positive developments in urban transportation and infrastructure, while fostering the idea of green mobility around the world. The vision we had with MATE was not just to develop an e-bike everyone could afford but furthering it as a lifestyle choice for people not just in cities like Amsterdam and Copenhagen, but all around the world.
But, since our capital was limited, we turned to crowdfunding platform Indiegogo to ask for 80,000 US dollars, only to end up receiving over 6.5 million. To be honest, we were quite overwhelmed at first. Euphoric, of course, but we simply did not expect such an incredible response. Today we have delivered more than 6,000 bikes to 80+ countries around the world and have established MATE as a lifestyle brand with a vibrant and active community of MATE owners around the world already taking and sharing tons of pictures with their bikes.
When I quit my job two years ago to go all in on MATE we had an ambitious goal, and that goal has only grown with the success that came at an unexpectedly rapid pace. Today we are in a process of maturing as a company, working hard on streamlining the not so sexy aspects of running a business, such as logistics and after-sales support. Simultaneously we are also developing the next generation of MATE, the MATE X, so needless to say, things tend to not get boring around the office.
The last two years of my life have been a challenging journey. When starting a business through crowdfunding, you usually are equipped only with a vision and a business plan, so your success or failure hinges merely on people believing in your product and sharing your vision for its future. So essentially you’re selling the idea of a product, without for sure knowing what issues and challenges this may entail. And trust me, there are thousands of little things you just can’t be prepared for.
But aside from developing the product, perhaps the greatest challenge is figuring out the logistics around how to deliver more than 6,000 bikes to customers all over the world. If this alone isn’t already a challenge, throw in the fact that we’re selling electric bikes, which are equipped with batteries that fall in the dangerous goods category with most customs and shipping companies. It’s also not exactly the smallest and lightest box to ship around the world. All of this amounted to many issues that were very difficult to predict. But I also see all of these challenges as a huge learning opportunity, so I don’t want to sound too pessimistic. If it is one thing I learned, any challenge can be overcome. I hope this is a message that encourages young women (and men) thinking of getting into the entrepreneurship game.
I learned so much about everything in such a short amount of time, including juggling four or five high priority full-time positions simultaneously in the beginning. I think another important lesson for me in this regard was to not be afraid to ask for help, and in my case, I slowly took my husband in to support us in building MATE in the areas I needed the most assistance with. People may think I took some big risk for my family but that is part of why we are standing here today. We had to take the plunge into the unknown, that’s the only way to succeed. The end result is having built an e-bike that gets people excited to get on a bike again, and for me as a bike enthusiast that’s just an incredibly cool thing to fight for. So yeah, when it comes down to it, success and money are nice, but what really makes me proud is the fact that I am part of something that is helping us all push toward a sustainable and greener future.
To BE YOUR OWN Boss in the 21st century, I think it boils down to being able to do what you believe in, no matter if you have a rich family to support you or not. Platforms like Indiegogo and Kickstarter are democratising business culture, allowing anyone who has the vision to turn that into a reality. You need a strong idea and confidence in your own abilities, but apart from that today almost anything can happen if you really fight for it.
Write your own history and do what your heart is beating for, anything is possible.
Twitter: @mate_bike | Instagram: @mate.bike