April 13, 2016, by Elizabeth Smith
Leading the pack – Porterlight Bicycles
In the Ingenuity Lab, no day is the same and every member has a different story and requirements. As a group, we support each other, collaborate and ensure we have as much fun along the day; creating a melting pot of ideas! Each week, we will introduce one of our exemplary members and their business to you!
Lawrence Brand is a member of the Ingenuity Lab, Ingenuity16 Top 20 finalist and is making waves in the cycling industry with his business.
Even though he’s wheelie, wheelie busy getting ready for his Ingenuity16 pitch (sorry – we couldn’t resist!), he managed to give us a quick update on his progress and ambitions for 2016!
Company name: Porterlight Bicycles
What did you study at the University of Nottingham?
What made you want to be an entrepreneur?
I saw an opportunity to change the way we get around cities by creating a bike that makes more urban journeys possible by bicycle.
What is your business concept?
We manufacture compact cargo bicycles in the UK. We’ve designed these bikes to carry heavy or bulky loads, and they are capable of replacing a car or van for many urban journeys. By giving individuals and companies a quicker, cheaper, and environmentally sustainable way to get themselves and their cargo around their city, we can reduce vehicle traffic, improve air quality, and make those journeys a healthy positive part of people’s days.
What stage are you currently at in setting up your company/business?
I built my first prototype back in 2014, then spent three months cycling 5,000km from Romania to Kazakhstan on something of an ultimate test ride! Riding through eight countries, I got to test the bike’s ability to carry me and everything I needed to survive along dusty unpaved roads, over mountains, and even through the desert.
Returning from my mammoth trip, I spent the next year revising my design to create the perfect London cargo bike. I launched the bike to the public in late 2015 with a digital configurator on the website, allowing customers to design their own perfect custom cargo bicycle.
In terms of exciting news, I still have my prototype cargo bike on display at The Design Museum as part of a nine month exhibition they’ve curated on the ‘Cycle Revolution’. I’m the exhibition’s advocate for cargo cycling, alongside the Olympian Sir Chris Hoy for speed cycling, Shanaze Reade for adventure cycling, and a fourth urban advocate.
What challenges have you faced during the process?
Establishing as a UK manufacturer has been difficult and expensive, but the benefits of manufacturing these custom utility bikes in London have been huge. Being able to cycle from our workshops down to visit potential customers such as parents, start-ups, and delivery companies to discuss how we can build a bike to suit their needs is a really nice way to engage with our users.
How has being an Ingenuity Lab member helped you?
Bringing home a trophy (and cash pot) from the 2015 Ingenuity competition helped fund the development of our UK built electric cargo bike model that I hope to launch later this year. I’ve just heard that I am in the Top 20 entrants for #Ingenuity16 too, meaning I am in the running for the £100,000 prize fund – which is really exciting!
What are your goals for this year?
In 2016 I aim to build Porterlight’s production capability further so that we can start to make these London cargo bikes on a bigger scale, switching to a batch manufacturing process that will allow us to begin selling them through specialist bicycle shops and retailers.
We wish Lawrence the best of luck with Ingenuity16 and his continued development of Porterlight Bicycles.
If you would like to find our more about what Lawrence is up to, please visit the Porterlight Bicycles website.