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E-bike maker Cowboy raises new funding round and launches AdaptivePower

Brussels-based startup Cowboy has been in the news lately for its cash burn rate. But the company wants to control its narrative again with some product and business news. Cowboy is launching a new feature called "AdaptivePower," which automatically adjusts the power of the motor depending on the current slope and weather conditions.

Cowboy’s electric bikes are pretty straightforward -- there are no gears and there are no + and - buttons to adjust the power of the motor. The company thinks riding a bike should be as easy as jumping on the saddle and putting a foot on the peddle.

But that minimalistic approach has some drawbacks. While the default power mode works fine in most cities, it’s not enough in hilly cities like San Francisco.

Instead of releasing a new bike with gears or buttons, the company is leveraging the sensors in the existing Cowboy lineup, such as the gyroscope and accelerometer. While these sensors were originally included for crash and theft detection, they can be leveraged to make the bike smarter. Based on the current torque, speed and other factors, Cowboy automatically increases the power delivery of the electric motor or reduces it.

This feature will be rolled out to Cowboy’s latest models that were released a couple of years ago — the C4 and its step-through version the C4ST. It will be an over-the-air software update. Once the update is installed, you’ll be able to choose between the "adaptive" and "eco" options in the mobile app for the motor power settings.

In other product news, the company is also releasing some new colors for the C4ST as you can see in the image at the bottom of this article.

New funding round at a lower valuation

In January 2022, Cowboy announced an $80 million funding round. A bit more than a year later, the company is raising more money. But it isn’t disclosing the dollar figure of this new funding round.

Of course, things have changed drastically for tech startups. VC firms aren’t deploying capital as rapidly and startup founders sometimes struggle to raise their next funding round. For a hardware company like Cowboy, supply chain issues and inflation also had some impact on the company’s margins.

A few weeks ago, Cowboy co-founder and CTO Tanguy Goretti said in a spicy LinkedIn post that the company was “in the process of closing a €15M round” (that’s $15.8 million at today’s exchange rate). From what I’ve heard, Cowboy ended up raising a bit less than that, but an equity crowdfunding part is going to round up that round.

He also added in his LinkedIn post that this recent funding round is a down round. The company’s total valuation is down by 44% compared to the previous funding round. In other words, it’s a long and windy road for Cowboy and the past few months have been more difficult than expected.

But the startup’s existing investors chose to invest more money in the company, which should improve the company’s runway right before the peak season of Cowboy sales (between March and October). After some logistics challenges a year or two ago, Cowboy’s margins are also back to where they should be.

With AdaptivePower, Cowboy can now think about other potential vehicles as well. For instance, this feature would work particularly well with cargo bikes. But there’s nothing to announce on this front for now.

“2022 has been our best year ever with €41 million in revenue and sales growing by 2.7x year over year,” co-founder and CEO Adrien Roose said in a statement. Cowboy has sold 50,000 since 2018. And 2022 wasn't so bad at all as the company told me it managed to sell 20,000 bikes in a single year.

The new colors of the Cowboy 4 ST e-bike
The new colors of the Cowboy 4 ST e-bike

Image Credits: Cowboy