Developed in Ireland, and produced in Vietnam, MODMO was founded by 24-year-old wiz kid Jack O’Sullivan whose lifelong passion for bicycles inspired him to design and develop the most technologically advanced, zero-emissions ebike ever constructed. MODMO’s flagship model, Saigon+, named after Jack’s current home of Saigon Vietnam, combines sleek and modern design with top-of-the-line core mechanics equating to a state-of-the-art, precision performance personal transport vehicle.
Last month, MODMO secured a €1M seed-round investment to accelerate their localized low-emission manufacturing in Vietnam, and to continue research and development of zero-emission green technology. Currently fulfilling their 1,000 unit online pre-orders for its flagship product, the Saigon+, MODMO has been offering premium ebike features like Bluetooth and 4G GPS tracking, an up to 200km range from its custom removable battery, a smart digital handlebar displaying speed, distance, trip and battery level, bright LED lights integrated at the front, the rear, within the proprietary handlebar ends and seatpost for night ride safety and a range of snap-on modular accessories. The Saigon+ has reportedly been so popular with collectors and bike enthusiasts, that they are currently sold out of product until this coming November.
We had the chance to chat with Jack O’Sullivan, discuss his booming start-up and what the future looks like for his growing company.
Splash Staff: At 24-year-old, you have grown a start-up into a successful and quickly expanding business. What made you decide to develop an ebike? What was your inspiration behind it?
Jack O’Sullivan: I was always into cycling – BMX, mountain biking, road cycling…you name it, if it had two wheels, that’s where I was spending my free time. I was commuting 40 mins each way by bike, and wanted to find a better way, so I started listing down all the paint points I had. I wanted to get from A to B without sweating. I wanted to be able to bring my dog to the park, carry the groceries home from the store and get my surf board to the beach. I also had 2 bikes stolen within a year. Most people would buy a car, but I always loved the freedom of cycling, so I set about building a bike that could address these issues and more.
S.S: You started your business in Ireland, and then relocated the company to Vietnam. Why Vietnam?
J.O: I knew I needed an advanced automotive factory to codevelop the bike with. After travelling the length and breath of Taiwan and China, I found what I was looking for in Vietnam. Plus the food is really good!
S.S: You pre-sold €1.5M in ebikes online before shipping out a single bike. How do you think you were able to sell so many without your customers being able to physically see and ride a bike, prior to ordering? Was it all buzz and word of mouth?
J.O: All of our pre-orders came to us completely organically. We designed a revolutionary bicycle, the media picked up our story and in turn we built a community of customers who helped fund the production of our bikes. We didn’t act like a traditional tech company and keep everything behind closed doors until it was perfect. Instead, we chose the route of complete transparency. We produced weekly update videos for an entire year, sharing our successes and failures with the public, allowing our customer base feel like they were involved in the process along with us. I believe it was our company’s transparency that created trust from our consumers.
S.S: What have been some of the greatest challenges you have faced in producing your ebikes? Aside from the obvious being the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic?
J.O: The pandemic triggered a huge consumer shift in Europe, away from public transport and onto electric bikes. Luckily Vietnam wasn’t hit so badly by the pandemic, so most of our difficulties came from supply chain issues. Previously, we had been able to place orders with suppliers and take delivery within a two month window. Seemingly overnight, suppliers reached their maximum production capacity and began extending their production times to 1 or 2 years, which through a wrench into our gears so to speak. 2020 was a really tough year to build a business, but we managed to secure our components and began shipping bikes in January 2021, just less than a year from announcing the concept.
SS: I read that you recently received a €1M seed round investment for the company to expand your low-emission manufacturing capabilities, and to go towards expanding your green technology. Could you please expand on that?
J.O: Previously, MODMO was almost completely customer funded, meaning we were able to use the money customer paid for their bikes to fund the product development and production. This worked amazingly well, but it meant that our customers had to wait a long time to receive their bike, and we know no one likes to wait. So, we gathered a group of angel investors who had been following the business and asked them to invest. We were able to raise slightly over €1M which came together in about two weeks; it was so great to receive so much support for our growing business.
S.S: What is next for MODMO? Are you currently developing new ebike models? Are you looking to expand your sales outside of Europe?
J.O: We’re currently focused on ramping up production at the moment and fulfilling all of our existing pre-orders. Once we’ve got the core technology inside our existing bike perfected, we’ll move on to other developing additional models such as a women’s specific ebike. We also employ a pretty big tech team, so we’ve got some top secret projects we’re working on at the moment… keep an eye out for updates on that as it’s really innovative and exciting stuff!
S.S: What advice would you give to a young entrepreneur who is looking to launch a new business or product in today’s world?
J.O: I would always encourage people to just go for it. Too many people talk about starting a business but get too caught up in trying to perfect everything before launching. I would say ‘get it done today and perfect it tomorrow!’ – you’ll get a lot of feedback in between and it will ultimately result in a better product.