London active travel platform Spokesafe has just received a £150,000 investment from British Design Fund (BDF).
The platform, which supports cyclists to find and access secure bike parking, was founded in 2019 by Max Wilson, who hit on the idea for the business while working as a chartered surveyor. Having grown up in big cities, including New York and London, he noticed a growing need for secure bike parking.
“While working in central London, I discovered my employer had a two-year waiting list for bike parking spaces, which I thought was crazy,” said Wilson.
“With the government busy spending on infrastructure to encourage greener means of transport, it appeared that no one was thinking about where the bikes would go, either side of the journey.
“Through my previous role in real estate, I knew there was a lot of under-utilised space in city centres but also within retail parks and other public and commercial spaces, and that was my lightbulb moment.”
The pre-seed funding round was led by the BDF with participation from existing investors at Bethnal Green Ventures and a number of key angel investors, both existing and new. The funding will be used to accelerate the expansion of the start-up’s active travel platform in cities across the UK.
Cyclists can utilise an app to find, pay for and access a network of secure spaces. Local authorities, landlords and other owners of underutilised space can use Spokesafe’s technology to increase the efficiency of their existing end of journey facilities.
The company is expanding the network of secure cycle parking available to cyclists through manufacturing Spokesafe’s own smart lockers. These lockers can be positioned anywhere within the public realm, and are available to any cyclist via the app.
Spokesafe is also building an online member community, designed for active travellers to share knowledge, resources and know-how.
Wilson added: “The team have been working super hard in the background to help further our mission this year and the close of our funding round is just the beginning.
“We recently launched the first pilot of our new smart cycle lockers with TfL and will shortly be announcing a raft of new locations across London and beyond. I couldn’t be more excited about where the business is headed!”
BDF works with British product start-ups that are ready to scale-up and build thriving stand-out businesses. Alongside capital investment, BDF provides expert mentoring to support such companies to accelerate their growth plans.
Damon Bonser, CEO of BDF, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Spokesafe to the British Design Fund portfolio. The company’s unique proposition combines technology and manufacturing expertise, to offer a solution to a growing, global need.
“Along with funding, our expert mentors look forward to working with the team, as they target rapid growth in the coming year.”