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Navigation App Beeline Raises £500k To Help City Explorers Get Buzzy About Urban Cycling

If you are the kind of intrepid adventurer who thinks maps are for wussies then Beeline, the connected navigation app that helps cyclists find their own way around cities could well be for you.

Unlike traditional navigation devices, BeeLine, a small circular IoT style device which can be clipped to your bikes’ handlebars, simply points you in the right direction, and lets you find your own route.

No tedious step-by-step instructions, no recalculating your route after missing a seemingly non-existent turning. Beeline is the ultimate smart compass, housing a magnetometer, accelerometer, gyroscope and Bluetooth receiver, that uses your smartphone’s GPS system to point you in the right direction.

Yesterday, BeeLine’s founders Mark Jenner and Tom Putnam announced the start-up had raised a £500k seed-round from an assortment of early stage investors, led by Truestart, and including Seedrs (Seedrs backer Andy Murray would surely approve), Seedcamp, EarlyMarket and the London Co-Investment Fund.

Altogether, BeeLine has raised £60k pre-seed, and £500k seed round, as well as £150k in revenues from the Kickstarter campaign – Beeline say they will use the new funds to build out their technical team.

Beeline’s founders say they will be allocating a significant portion of the funds raised to developing this side of the business.

As Jenner explains; “we’re operating in a fast-growth market and while our initial focus is in scaling the product in key regions, we’re also focusing on expanding the tech expertise within the business to ensure we’re continually the user experience.”

He adds; “it’s important to us that the way our users interact with BeeLine is ever more compelling and engaging. It’s an exciting time for BeeLine and we’re delighted our investors see the potential in the company as much as we do.”

No danger there. Baz Saideh, CEO of Truestart, the investor / incubators who have spent the last three years “finding, developing and growing innovative consumer and retail businesses”, reveals that “it was evident when we were introduced to BeeLine that they had a business model we could identify with – it was clear that the founders not only understood the cycling market but appreciated the importance data plays in strengthening their business.”

The UK cycling industry is worth a staggering £1.5bn, according to research from Mintel, and the accessories part of that market has grown 28% between 2010 and 2014. BeeLine and their investors are no doubt betting that, with the advent of smart, connected cities, their device will have a key role to play.

BeeLine received £85k of their funding from the London Co-Investment Fund, who are supported by the Mayor of London and aim “to help fledgling tech and science start-up businesses in the capital who are looking to raise the finance they need to take their business to the next level”.

The LCIF launched with £25m of funding from the London Enterprise Panel’s “Growing Places” Fund, but has since been matched with £60m of privately sourced investment.

Jules Pipe, the Deputy Mayor for Planning, Regeneration and Skills, commented “London is open to some of the planet’s most entrepreneurial minds and I am pleased that this fund has helped BeeLine bring this innovative product to market, helping to make the capital an even greater city for cycling”.

The device itself comes encased in a tough, water resistant silicone holder, whilst an e-paper display issues “crisp, clear instructions” – there’s even a backlight for night riding, and the battery lasts for up to four weeks.

Users are able to add waypoints to their journey which helps them, when exploring a new city, make sure they take in all the sites, and the app is available for both Android and iOS, employing simple drag and drop functionality.

 It’s another step forward for global fans of two wheels and lycra lovers. Now can we pedestrianise Oxford Street Mr Mayor…please!


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