7 years ago

Hobnobbing with Tom Putnam from Beeline

So, what does Beeline do?

We make beautifully designed navigation hardware and software to make getting around on a bike much easier and more fun. Taking the stress out of riding and letting you explore by allowing you to pick your own routes rather than telling you which turns to take.

What’s behind the business idea?

It was just a problem Mark (my co-founder) and I had ourselves. We kept getting lost and hated having to pull out our phones to look at maps. We started out meaning to just put compasses on our bikes, then we thought we could get smarter than that. The rest is history as they say!

Was there a breakthrough moment?

The obvious big one was launching on Kickstarter. Although a lot of work had gone into it before then, this was the big moment where we exposed what we were doing to the world and found out if anyone would like it! Fortunately for us it went really well with over 1000 people preordering within a couple of days. That was when we knew we were on to something worth pursuing.

How is the company doing?

It’s going really well thanks. We’ve recently raised investment which allows us to build up the team and think about how we’re going to market BeeLine once it’s in full manufacture. On that front, we’re nearly there – it’s very exciting dealing with the factories in China, although not without difficulties!

Do you have any regrets?

You know I really can’t think of any. Maybe that’s a requirement to staying sane as an entrepreneur – blocking out all the bad decisions you’ve made! I can certainly think of a few close calls where we almost got things very wrong, but fortunately, I think we’ve erred on just the right side of screwing up so far. Touch wood!

What makes you stand out from your competitors?

There are some practical things like lower price, longer battery life etc, but the real differentiator is what we’re all about at our core. Traditional “satnav” style navigation devices tend to be practical tools to get you from A-B, giving you a route to listen to/watch. We’re all about making the journey, more fun and exciting. We don’t tell you which roads to take, just which direction you need to head in, leaving you to pick the turns you take. This means you’re engaged in your journey, free to explore and discover your surroundings.

What is your definition of a positive customer experience?

That one’s easy. Someone turning up at their destination with a massive grin on their face.

You’re currently reaching out for investors, what do you plan to do when you have raised this funding?

We’ve actually just finished raising our seed round. Some of this will be used to finance inventory and to fund marketing, but the most important use will be building up an amazing team of talent around us to take this company to the next level.

What advice would you give yourself now if you were starting a business?

You know, I might not. Counterintuitively our naivety has been a big factor in us getting this far – if we’d known too much early on we might not have taken the plunge. I wouldn’t like to ruin that for myself.

Finally, Tom what is your favourite biscuit?!

Maryland choc chip cookies with hazelnut. I used to be able to get 3 packs for £1 with my pocket money at school so they hold a nostalgic value!