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How can innovation create opportunities for positive social impact and environmental footprint? Joining us for our 100th episode is Daniel Tonkopi, CEO of Delfast, who aims to transform the future of transportation and combat climate change with Delfast’s innovative e-bikes. They are recognized as a disruptive global e-bike leader in the space. With roots in Ukraine, Daniel is also putting forth efforts to help protect and fight for his country. Learn all about how they’re showing support and the benefits of switching to electronic bicycles for the environment and the individual.
About Daniel Tonkopi
Daniel Tonkopi is founder and chief executive officer of Delfast, Inc. Daniel is a serial entrepreneur with more than 20 years of successful business experience. His previous entrepreneurial endeavors include best.ua, a Ukrainian business reviews service; X-Rift, an augmented reality mobile game; and Million Dollar Startup, a Kyiv-based startup school. In 2014, Daniel set out to transform the future of transportation and combat climate change with Delfast’s innovative e-bikes. He has since grown the company into a disruptive global e-bike leader that holds a Guinness World Record for greatest distance (228 miles) traveled on a single charge. In addition to Delfast, Daniel also serves as a business and entrepreneurial mentor for MiniBoss School, Startup Ukraine, and the Central Asia FLEX business program. He is an author, a former radio host, and is a dynamic and sought-after speaker inspiring entrepreneurs and sustainability enthusiasts globally at more than 50 conferences to date. Daniel holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Economic Relations from Kazakh Economic University.
Additional Resources Mentioned:
00:00 – 07:19 Introduction
00:00 – 07:24 What Daniel and Delfast are doing to support Ukraine
07:20 – 11:13 Daniel’s Story
11:14 – 17:44 Their entry into the e-bike space
17:45 – 26:45 What makes their e-bike different
26:46 – 28:02 The parameters of the bike
28:03 – 30:39 What Daniel hopes e-bikes will replace for a positive environmental impact
30:40 – 38:04 Their approach in the procurement and recycling/reusing of materials
38:05 – 44:17 Theft prevention and safety/security measures in the e-bike
44:18 – 47:03 Why more people are choosing using e-bikes
47:04 – 50:56 Tips on learning how to ride an e-bike
50:57 – 54:22 Delfast’s plans and goals
54:23 – 57:37 Closing
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How Delfast Ebikes Are Making A Positive Environmental Footprint And Supporting Ukraine with CEO Daniel Tonkopi
This is a special occasion as we mark our 100th episode. Over the course of the past few years, I have enjoyed learning on this adventure with you more about social impact stories, sustainability, and ultimately, about regeneration. It has been my honor and my privilege to tell these stories, to connect with incredible guests, to deepen my understanding and open my mind, and to hear that I’m able to help you do the same. I want to reach out and say thank you to each and every one of you for reading or watching it on YouTube and for sharing your thoughts with me as well. Ultimately, together, we are caring more so that we can be better.
Each episode, I invite you on that journey as I work to open my mind and get to know a new subject matter a little bit more deeply. I have become more of an activist in this time and I know that I have inspired some of you to do the same. When you visit CareMoreBeBetter.com, you can sign up for our newsletter and receive a simple guide that I created for all of you. It’s five steps to unleash your inner activist. It provides practical guidance to get you thinking about the things you care about and what you might do to champion them.
I would also like to invite anyone new to the show to go back to our earlier episodes. You could even start from the very beginning. That first episode was my interview with Kayra Martinez. She’s the Founder and the brainchild behind Love Without Borders for Refugees in Need. She proves with her efforts that one person with one idea and some passion can make all the difference in the world for so many people. She has changed the lives of refugees in Greece. She’s working to make their lives better and inspire people around the globe through her Ted Talk and so much more.
Now, as we meet our new guest, we’re going to touch on some of the same topics about war-torn regions, and what we can do individually and overall to help and support. Each of us has the power and the ability to make a difference. We can stand up and be counted. Our activism doesn’t have to look like marching in the streets. It can look like sending emails or making phone calls. It can certainly be as simple as something that you integrate into your daily life.
In honor of this 100th episode, I would love to invite you to one simple act. If you could send me an email note to Hello@CareMoreBeBetter.com, or perhaps you could even leave me a voicemail on my website by going to CareMoreBeBetter.com and clicking on that microphone button at the bottom right-hand corner. You can do this from your cell phone, mobile device or desktop. They all work. You’ll have the opportunity to review your audio file before you submit it. When you do, if you could tell me whether or not you would be happy for me to share it on the show, I would appreciate it. It would be my dream to be able to share feedback from the community directly on this show.
As we get into this episode, I am going to invite you to think about a couple of things. First, the individual we’ll meet has roots in Ukraine, and we all know this part of the world is in turmoil. I would like for you to keep an open mind and also listen a little intensely as we do have an accent that is a little different than most you hear in America. We will touch your heart and inspire all two-wheelers out there to try something new as we get to know Daniel Tonkopi. He’s the Founder and CEO of Delfast Ebikes.
We’re going to learn how this founder with roots in Ukraine is building e-bikes with a range of 230 miles on a single charge. We’re going to learn how he has brought forward this great idea after being one of the second generations of ecologically minded individuals in the very same family. These bikes are incredible. They even enjoy the Guinness World Record bragging rights of the longest distance traveled on a single charge. His story has been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, Bloomberg, Autoevolution, and Electric.
As we get started with our conversation, we’re going to also reveal something else for you. He has made a choice to donate 5% of all sales to Stand With Ukraine. That’s not profits. He also takes a more involved approach to support change in that arena and to draw attention to the much-needed support in the region. Here we are. Daniel Tonkopi, welcome to the show.
Thank you, Corinna. First of all, congratulations on 100 episodes. This means that you are doing something important. People love to hear you. People want you to bring more new guests. I personally love what you’re doing. We have the same values. We’re caring more for the better. We have a responsibility to change the world and make it a better place.
It’s an invitation. That’s how I look at it. I’m bringing you into my brain and those of our guests to think about how we can create more change. There’s this whole concept that one person alone is just one person. You’re thinking of in your own isolated climate, but then you extend that to 2 and 3 and beyond. You almost create another being in itself where all of us together create something that’s more than each of us individually.
That’s the power of community and the power of idea share because who knows what the effect will be of someone hearing this show, learning from you and the ideas that will spin into their reality as a result of hearing us share some interesting stories about the creation of an e-bike company. Anyone listening will hear your accent. This isn’t lip service. Your being from Ukraine is a reality. As we get started with this conversation, I would love to know what it is that you’re doing specifically in Ukraine to support people there and to Stand With Ukraine as 5% of your revenues is going directly to support people there.
Thank you for asking and thank you for supporting Ukraine and for standing with us. We do a lot. We work two shifts now. One shift is in Delfast or other companies. The second shift is to fight against the Russian invasion. What we do is we donate 5% of all of our revenues to the people of Ukraine. We give four bikes for free. The Ukrainian Army equipped our bikes with rocket launchers. They put it on the back and worked against Russian tanks and other techniques.
These are the realities that we don’t necessarily want to think about, but it’s what’s happening there. You were essentially actively becoming a part of the resistance.
Yes. We help medical volunteers. We buy some medicine and medical equipment, binoculars, internet connection and everything for them. This is not only what we do. We are in the resistance. For example, there is a flash mob on the internet from Ukrainian IT companies. On the website or online services, there is a language or bar. You can choose English, Russian or Ukrainian. Instead of just Russian, we put, “Russia is a terrorist state.” We encourage Biden, Congress, and Blinken to announce Russia as a sponsor of terrorism because Russia is killing innocent people. They’re killing hostages and constantly bombing cities. They don’t obey any laws and traditions of wars.
You’re talking about cities, hospitals, and schools that have all been targeted.
We encourage Blinken and Biden to announce it as a terrorist state. Apart from that, we go to rallies. I live in LA, and there are a lot of rallies. We show Americans what is going on. At one moment, I thought, “That’s probably not enough. We have to go more, not just stay at one crossroad, but to show it to a larger audience.” I organized a group of volunteers, and we started to publish on Congress’ and people’s Twitter what was going on. We are sending pictures from Ukraine. We give information and share the actual statistics. We share the information to give them an objective status. We have had some successes.
At the very beginning of the war, Biden didn’t want to support Ukraine because he was afraid of a nuclear war. He didn’t want it to escalate, but we needed help. We needed the military equipment. We started to speak with senators and congresspeople. I called two Ukrainian entrepreneurs and famous bloggers. We made a group of Ukrainian Leaders Against the War. We spoke to senators and finally, Congress approved at least $40 billion in help. We help to make it happen.
What you’re speaking about is sometimes activism has to be a little noisy and also creative. You have to band together, and guess what? Congress listens to entrepreneurs because you’re creating money and paying taxes. You sometimes have to leverage that. Be a little noisy and that squeaky wheel from that little moniker on your site to call Russia a terrorist state to the brass tacks of getting a group together and approaching and lobbying Congress. Hats off to you for doing that.
Thank you. This is not only about Ukraine. It’s about the world. If Ukraine loses in this war, this will give a signal to the entire world that democracy probably will lose when staying in front of Putinism.
It sets a precedent for what we allow. Ultimately, the annihilation and elimination of an entire culture and people is not something we can stand idly by and deal with. Thank you for that and for giving 5% of all sales from Delfast to this effort, in addition to the other efforts, which are not necessarily monetary, but which are as important and vital. That’s incredible. I appreciate it. It’s helpful for me to be able to tell a piece of this story because it’s very sensitive. I should probably have preface’s episode with a bit of a trigger warning about that. The reality is when we talk about war, people get uncomfortable but we got to talk about the uncomfortable things too.
People are dying. This is our reality. We are fighting with this invasion. This is not what we wanted to have. The crazy Russian Army invaded Ukraine. We protect our houses and we are proud to do this. We will fight for our houses.
The spirit of the Ukrainian people has been on full display for all of us, from your president and everyone. It has been an incredible journey. Thank you for your efforts with Delfast. That’s incredible.
Thank you for your support. Thank you to all Americans for staying with Ukraine. Thank you to Congress and Biden too. We do appreciate the United States for all the help and support.
Let’s get back to talking about your bikes. These are incredible. That’s why people joined us. Thank you for your efforts with Ukraine. I also understand you’re a second-generation environmentalist. I would like to invite you to talk a little bit about your history, how this came to be, your father and ultimately, what landed you here in the United States in Southern California.
Thank you for asking. I came from Ukraine and lived there for the previous twelve years before I moved to Los Angeles. Now I’m in LA, but my home country is Kazakhstan. My home city is Almaty. I grew up there. Almaty is a beautiful city. I think not many people from your audience are in Almaty but believe me, it’s a beautiful city surrounded by high mountains. Because of that mountains, Almaty has an ecological catastrophe. Imagine two million cars and all the smoke coming over the city, but there is no wind because of the mountains from three sides. In the ’90s and ’80s, there were solutions for removing the smoke like huge pipes and fans which could blow out all this smoke, but they never worked.
I was a kid at that time and thought I could do something probably in the future with this air pollution. My father was a professor of Ecology. He wrote over 400 books about ecological problems like clean air, clean water, clean land, dirty land, the nuclear disarmament of Kazakhstan, and all the ecological issues in Kazakhstan. I grew up with all these values and this responsibility to make the world cleaner, and this desire to make our Almaty cleaner.The electric vehicles were the solution. Click To Tweet
When I became an entrepreneur, I thought, “Now maybe I have a chance to change something.” This is how I came up with the idea of the creation of electric vehicles. I’m a big fan of EVs and making the air cleaner, not only in Almaty but in all large cities. We have the same problem everywhere, in Los Angeles, Paris or London. We have this air pollution because of cars and other sources. We fight this pollution and emissions. I believe in the future where we will be breezing in with clean air in the cities. This is what I’m doing here.
I remember a movie from the ’80s where it was supposed to be futuristic. The woman was coming back in time and was counseled to smoke two packs of cigarettes a day to help with her lungs because of how polluted the environment was. I forget the name of it, but you’re taken back there. What we’re talking about here is not creating pollution in the first place and also doing things like planting more trees so that the trees can draw down some of that carbon dioxide and nitrogen.
Other of these greenhouse gas components that we can draw down, but there are so many that we cannot. Ultimately, thinking about how we stop the emissions from occurring in the first place is the direction in which we should be going. I would love your thoughts specifically with regard to getting into e-bikes because I know that this didn’t magically happen. You started with Delfast being something else entirely. It wasn’t even in the e-bike space. Can you talk about that path? What were you addressing before and what has it become now?
It was 2013, and I was an entrepreneur. I moved to Ukraine in 2009 and established my first startup there. It was Yelp for Ukraine like reviews about places. I sold it and established a bunch of other startups. Most of them there were unsuccessful. I failed 15 or 16 times. In 2013, I came up with the idea of delivering goods from online stores with the speed of pizza delivery. I thought, “Why do I have to wait for my smartphone for 2 or 3 days while a pizza could be delivered within one hour?” You don’t have to cook the smartphone like pizza. You can take it from a warehouse and bring it to me. I created the one-hour delivery service in Kyiv and called it Delfast because we deliver fast.
It wasn’t like a disruptive delivery service. Imagine local Amazon in Ukraine as they deliver goods. They’re the largest in Ukraine. People were laughing at me, “How are you going to fight with this online store?” I thought about how I was going to fight them. Them the Goliath and being a David, I need to create something unique. The electric vehicle was the solution. I thought, “Let’s use an electric bicycle for the delivery. It will allow us to reduce the cost of gas and maintenance, and the cost of transportation itself. We don’t have to buy an expensive car. We can buy an electric bicycle.” I didn’t know much about electric bikes. I bought an e-bike first.
It was 2013 or 2014. Me and my partner, Sergey, first bought the Chinese electric bike. The seller promised us a 50-mile range on a single charge. We thought, “It’s not enough for one-day work of a courier because the courier works a full day and he can ride 130 miles during the day.” We thought, “It would be good for the beginning, 50 miles.” We bought and charged it. I drove it on a highway to Kyiv and it was a beautiful sunny summer day. Suddenly, after 15 miles, it stopped. I called the seller and said, “You promised me 50, not 15.” He said, “Yes, that’s correct.” I said, “It stops. Something is broken.” He said, “No, that’s fine. It should usually go for fifteen.”
I said, “No, you promised me 50.” He said, “Yes, 50, if you help with pedals.” I go, “Seriously, if I help with pedals, I can go for 1,000 miles.” That day I realized that all electric bikes on the market, like 99.9% of e-bikes have a small range of less than 30 miles on a single charge. We need a much higher range. I and Sergey reinvented e-bikes. We started to redevelop e-bikes. We had a lot of experiments with frames, batteries, motors, computers and everything inside to solve our own problem with our courier service.
Step by step, we created an e-bike that exceeded all the limits, which can drive 230 miles. As you already said, later, we established the Guinness World Record. We created these bikes to give them to our couriers and make deliveries. The delivery service was successful. Step by step, we thought, “Probably we can start selling these e-bikes. Not just providing courier services, but to sell a product.” In 2017, we launched a Kickstarter campaign, and it was a successful campaign. We gathered $165,000.
We realized that some people also liked these bikes. Not only us in Kyiv but people in America, Great Britain, Australia and everywhere. They like our product. From that moment, we had two business units like delivery service and bike production unit. In 2020, we sold our courier part of the business. Now, we are not couriers anymore. We are a bike production company. It’s the same company with the same name, Delfast, because we grew up in the delivery service. Now we are growing three times a year. We sell bikes all over the world, but our main market is America. That’s why in 2021, I and part of our team moved to Los Angeles because I believe this is probably the capital of electric vehicles in the world. It’s everywhere.
Anyone who has spent time in a big city like New York, San Francisco or Chicago knows that bike delivery is a thing. It is how you get your takeout meals because bicycles can get to you much more quickly because they can circumnavigate traffic and get directly to your door. Having an electric version makes it much easier for the delivery person because they’re not arriving drenched in sweat in the hot summer months.
I can see the obvious benefit here, but your bikes are different from other e-bikes that I’ve seen out there. It looks technologically almost like you’re borrowing from downhill mountain bikes that are very high tech and also motorcycles or dirt bikes. How is it that you exactly conceived this and brought it together as a package that’s different from what we typically expect from an electric bike now?
We were solving our problem and we needed a bike with a huge range and high speed. Forbes said that we produce the fastest e-bike on the market.
It’s 50 miles an hour. That’s like a scooter. It’s more than an e-bike in some ways. That’s what I’m getting at. That’s a terrifying speed for most people.
We were solving people’s problems like the courier’s problem. If I will buy a bicycle for my own use, for fun and leisure, and for traveling over the parks, I wouldn’t buy a bike with a 200-miles range and 50 miles per hour speed. I don’t need that for me, but couriers or heavy-duty riders like police officers need speeds and range. They are on duty for an entire day. If they’re chasing the crimes, they need some juice on this bike.
Essentially what you’re saying is this can replace a motorcycle even. If you’re just riding around town, doing errands around town, you sell kits that are the saddle bags for your bike or the unit so you could put your groceries in it and do all of these things. I imagine going around town at 30 to 35 miles an hour is probably comfortable for most people on a bicycle. It’s a lot quicker than they would get there if they were walking. It’s much more efficient because they’re not expelling a bunch of fumes. At the same time, it’s fun.
You’re solving a few problems because we need a little bit more fun in our lives too. There is a thrill in cycling, bicycling or motorcycling. You smell the fresh air. You are aware of your environment in a different way. In the videos that you show online, you’re showing people wearing helmets that are more like those you would wear on a motorcycle. I can see why. It’s because of the speed.
I agree with you, not everyone needs such a huge range. Some people are scared about high speed. We are constantly developing new models and we hear what people are saying to us. When we came to California, many people told us the same as you. They said, “I don’t do 50 miles per hour speed.” We thought, “We can reduce the power of the motor.” Many people said, “We don’t need 200 miles range, 70 miles would be more than enough.” We think that we can reduce the battery by 2 or 3 times less. It will decrease the price and weight of the bike.
Women said that “This bike is more muscular. It’s like brutal. It’s not for women probably.” We said, “Yeah, that’s true.” We developed another version of a bike with a u-frame that will be more useful, lighter, more fun, better and less speed based on more than 50,000 reviews from potential customers. We are constantly analyzing what people want from an e-bike. We are improving it and we are trying to make the best solution for our riders.
I went to your site and started building out the bike I would buy myself. I was going to go ahead and do this. I’m like, “These saddlebags, yes, and do this and do that. I want the fenders, and maybe I would want the off-road tires too.” I started going and going because in my late teens and early twenties, I was a competitive mountain biker. I enjoy getting out there and going fast. I would brutally punish myself up those hills so that I could enjoy the speed of the downhill.
I go out on trails here in the local area and see e-bikes all over the trails having a ball. Your only hint that they’re coming, because they come out of nowhere so fast, is that slight electric whine. My dog will notice it and alerts me. I’m like, “They’re coming.” I see them whip right through. There’s a part of me that feels like they’re cheating.
I know what you mean. I love the e-bikes because I can pedal or not pedal. I have almost the full power of a motorcycle, but with all the features of a bicycle. I don’t have to pay for gas, change oil and expensive maintenance. For me, an e-bike is perfect for individual transportation.
Nobody walks in LA.
It’s too far.
I’m looking at this. I do see that you have an option for a motorcycle seat, for example, which is longer. It reminded me in the way of some of the motard bikes that people build when you put that all together. I wondered, is this feasible for two people to ride on? Can the bike manage it? What are your thoughts?
We calculated the frame, all the loads, and everything. The short answer is no. It’s not feasible for two people because we are a bicycle, not a motorcycle. I will tell you how we came up with this motorcycle type of seat. A couple of years ago, we spoke with LAPD and gave them our bicycle for a test ride. It’s a common bicycle seat. They tested it for a month and said, “It’s perfect. We want to buy after all the processes, but we need to make some improvements on this bike. You have to put on red and blue lights, sirens, etc. We need rear racks to put our laptops and police stuff.”
We thought, “How can we attach rear racks?” We cannot put it on this bicycle seat. We experimented with racks. Finally, we came with the bicycle type of seat. There we can attach racks. They said, “This is what we need.” After that, they refused to buy that time. Anyway, we put this bicycle type of seat on our website, and it increased our volume by about 30%. People also want that. They said, “When I go through a grocery store, I need someplace to put bags” or for traveling.An e-bike is the perfect individual transportation. Click To Tweet
The primary thing is when you have the motorcycle seat. It is not as comfortable to pedal. If you intend to also pedal, you might not want the motorcycle seat. Since the range for this vehicle is 230 miles, you wouldn’t need to.
That’s true. Frankly, our couriers many years ago, we had a lot of sportsmen, people who love riding a bicycle or professionals. They told me, “Daniel, I will pedal it. I don’t need electric power. Maybe I will use the pedal, but not the throttle.” After 2 or 3 days of work, they all used the throttle. Nobody is pedaling.
For people who haven’t ridden an electric bike, the torque is instant on power. How do you manage that so people don’t literally fly off the cycle? It’s instant on-power, and that power band is pretty intense.
You can see it in electric cars like Tesla. You have incredible speed and acceleration. We can also have such an acceleration. We slowed it down artificially. We have our own proprietary electronics and main board so that we can control everything. This is not only about accelerating, but it’s all about the maintenance like telemetry. We can see the temperature of the water of our battery and how it is used. We can see GPS positioning and send some notifications to the owner’s smartphone. We track all the parameters of the bike to provide the best experience to the rider.
I’m thinking about the environmental impact of what you’re doing because if you do replace the around-town errand running. Even some longer trips, you’re replacing emissions that could have been quite dramatic and also making something a little bit more affordable than that Tesla that you mentioned. What do you hope that Delfast Ebikes will replace?
I believe people will use electric bicycles, Delfast in particular, for most of their short and mid-range trips. You don’t have to take a big car if you go to a grocery store or drugstore. Using an e-bike, you won’t be stuck in traffic. You don’t have to look for parking when you go downtown or anywhere. You won’t pay money for gas, which is expensive now. Electric bicycles, compared to common motorcycles, have much fewer spare parts. There are 1,000 spare parts in a motorcycle. There are 50 spare parts in an electric bicycle. Less spare parts mean fewer things that can be broken and fewer things to maintain, which means less money and less time to spend.
I believe in the multidimensional impact. Less money to spend and less time because of less traffic jams, less pollution, less emissions, and more happiness. You feel like a part of the surrounding nature. You’re not sitting in a box like in a car. You communicate with nature, people and dogs. You can stop and make a beautiful picture of a sunset or something when you ride a bicycle or e-bike. You cannot just stop when you drive a car because you need to find parking. It’s complicated.
I think this would come to a concept that I discussed with Nina Simons in a past episode. That is specifically about cascading benefits. If you get to the root of something and have thought through how it can impact every area of your life, you can identify the cascading benefits. Still, it does require materials to build something like an electric bike. Some of those rare earth minerals needed to create the batteries that power the bike are a little harder to come by.
We have some plans on the docket that are up for approval to begin mining for rare earth minerals, even on the seabed floor. I’m curious to know how you presently approach the procurement of all of the components that you need and what your view is on how we’re heading forward to ensure that we can continue to build great electric vehicles without unduly affecting our planetary health.
This is a big question and absolutely important. We cannot solve it at once. We’re trying to solve it step by step. The first huge step is we can start using electric vehicles in general. Not only our bikes but generally electric bikes and electric cars. This will mean that we will reduce gas emissions in our breeze area. I’m not saying that the production of lithium-ion batteries is clean. No, it’s definitely not. This production is located out of cities. As the first step, we take out the pollution from cities, from our breeze area, and from the place where we live to the deserts or the industrial area, hundreds of miles out of large cities. That’s one step.
Another step is recycling and reusing. Our bike’s frame is a steel frame. It’s easily reusable and recyclable. The most polluted part definitely is the lithium-ion battery. It’s in all vehicles, bikes and electric cars. It takes up to 40% of the cost of the bike, and one-third of the weight. It has some chemistry like lithium-ion. Our battery can live for 3,000 life cycles, which means if you charge the bike every day, although nobody charges every day, it will live for almost ten years. Some customers are asking us, “Do you have a policy of replacing a battery or recycling the battery?” Yes, we do. We will take the battery back and reuse them.
The materials can be reused because my impression was that some of the degrading of that battery with time would mean that it becomes waste, and then that waste has to be managed.
The degradation is about 30%, which means that the battery will have 70% of its capacity. It will not be enough for powering a vehicle, but the battery still can save some power in it. We will reuse them and reassemble them into big power walls like big power banks. You don’t need to have high voltage in a power bank.
For instance, if I’m in my home and I want to be off the grid because I’m frustrated with how Pacific Gas and Electric is managing things. I can have that power wall and store my solar energy.
Yes. This is better. It can live for another 10 or 20 years as a power wall.
That’s good to know. I appreciate you sharing that because I don’t think everyone is quite aware. One of the reasons I’m a little skeptical about the ability of electric cars to be the solution and replace vehicles that are gas-powered. Sometimes we don’t know what the unintended consequences are going to be further down the road. I do have some concerns over mineral mining happening in the beds of our oceans but ultimately, we need transportation solutions. We can’t just whisper them away into the ether. I do like the fact that you’re able to reuse these batteries. That’s great. Having a part in a recycling program of some sort is fantastic. Thank you for helping me understand that.
We are socially responsible from day one. We created an e-bike delivery service. Literally, all of our team members have the same values of clean energy, zero emissions, and electric vehicles. They’re bicycle riders and bike lovers. They are all about sports and a healthy style of life. We are all about these values. This is in our DNA. I can’t imagine our company making something non-ethical or non-ecological. I remember one story where I hired a social media manager.
She was a professional in SME and marketing. She said to me, “Daniel, I’m afraid of bicycles. I fell down in my childhood. I don’t ride a bicycle, but I can write articles, do posts and everything.” I said, “How are you going to write articles about something that you are afraid of? You won’t be able to share your love and passion about it.” Even though she was a great professional, we couldn’t start working together because of this reason.
It’s the authenticity that you need or somebody who can be as passionate about it as you are. Live and breathe it, and then it will be something they enjoy more. I get that too. You’ve mentioned a few times here the weight of the bicycle. I would like to know a little bit more about how much the bicycle weighs and if you can also talk about theft prevention. In many cities, if you want to park your bike, go in, and do shopping, you need to be able to come back out to your bike. Let’s say there are bike theft problems all over the country. If you can help us understand that, it would be lovely.
This is a problem that we met from day one. It’s the same problem everywhere, in America, Europe, Ukraine, anywhere. Our technique is pretty expensive. We have to care about it. It’s not just $100. I wouldn’t be glad if my $100 bike will be stolen, but this is several thousand dollars. What do we have now? We have all the tracking of the bike, GPS tracking, and SIM card with constant monitoring. There is a mobile app with their onboard computer which is constantly tracking the bike and its state.
We had a couple of cases when bikes were stolen. One case was in Kyiv, and another case was in London. A police officer called our phone line and asked, “Is such a bike really bought by this person? Here’s the frame number and all the details.” We said, “Yes, that’s true.” He said, “Okay, thank you. That’s all I need. We found this bike, so everything is fine.” He just needed the confirmation.
Someone had stolen this bike from a guy in London, and he found it in a matter of hours or days because of all this telemetry. We have all of our proprietary technologies in this bike. We constantly track this bike. Not only theft problem but let’s say it’s overheated or fell down, for example. The owner will receive a notification on his smartphone. Our engineers will see in our backend that something is wrong with this bike. It overheated, fell down or moved somewhere. We do care about it.
You hear about controversies with something like an electric fire on some of these vehicles. We had a Chevy Bolt, which had a range of 243 miles, and that was part of our decision to get the Chevy Bolt. There were some of them that were going up in flames. Apparently, the batteries will catch fire quite quickly if that’s the case. It’s the same thing with Teslas. How do you address that in this particular vehicle?
I should confess that we had such problems a few years ago when we had our delivery service. One day, we came up to our courier station and saw that everything was burnt out. We realize why Tesla burnt out. Samsung has issues with Galaxy 7. We realized, “Now we know why they have these problems.” We started to invest in safety and security. We implemented seven different methods of preventing fire, overheating, and overcharging, starting from physical prevention, thermal sensor, and push notifications. It has 6 or 7 different types of control for heat and voltage. After that, we never had such problems. We solved it. I know this is a big deal, but luckily not a single customer had such an issue with our bikes.
I was trying to think of all the questions I would have if I were considering an e-bike that might have prevented me from going forward with buying it. So far you’ve checked all those boxes.
We have a lot of experience. We’ve ridden ten million miles on our bikes. If I will drive an e-bike, I would drive 1,000 miles. As a company, we made ten million miles. If a problem could have appeared, it appeared.We cannot solve it at once. So we are trying to solve it step by step. Click To Tweet
How much do you say they weigh? I know you have different models.
It’s 75 kilograms. It’s pretty heavy, but not as heavy as a motorcycle.
The motorcycles start around 300. I had a Bandit 400. It’s a small motorcycle and it weighs about 400 pounds. When I did drop it, which did happen, it was hard to pick up. I compare this to my mountain bike, which weighs 24 pounds. That’s a lot different. There’s a different goal behind all of it too. I’m not riding my mountain bike up and down my hill. I live on a very steep hill, and it is one of those that even the most trained cyclists often end up walking up. It’s how steep it is.
I have a few neighbors that have gone out and got e-bikes because they wanted to be able to go and do errands on a bicycle as opposed to bringing their car all the time. It could have served that need with a Delfast bike, but I don’t think they were aware of your brand at the time. I’m curious. I’m going to go to Santa Clara. I see that you have a dealer in Santa Clara near my alma mater of Santa Clara University. I want to go check these bikes out.
I meet more and more people who are switching from bicycles to electric bicycles. They can pedal and go up and down, but many people are lazy.
Think about it. I used to commute to work on my bike when I lived in San Jose. I was close enough to the office where I worked to ride my bike to work and back a few days a week. It was unavoidable and in the summer months especially, you would get quite sweaty. You arrive there and you want to be presentable. It’s not necessarily the easiest thing to transition right into your workday. There were a lot of people who would choose to cycle if they could, but they didn’t want to be smelly as they arrived at work.
That’s another reason I have some health problems. I had surgery on my knees, so I cannot pedal too long. I would love to pedal but not much. I want to take this opportunity to pedal, but I don’t want to pedal as a necessity or an obligation. No. I want to travel 10 miles, for example. I will feel this wind on my face or nice weather. If I want, I can pedal. If not, I have a throttle bar.
As far as how much time it takes to learn to ride one of your e-bikes because it’s not just like hopping on a regular bicycle. I had this experience when I first tested one out. I needed to learn to throttle. I felt better about wearing a motorcycle helmet when I first got on because they can go at a higher speed. Do you have basic recommendations or training even for somebody who’s just starting out on an e-bike for the first time?
My main recommendation is safety first. Always wear a helmet. If you have elbows and knees, that would also be great. I mentioned my surgery on my knees and how it appeared. On the second week of work at our Delfast company in November 2014, it started snowing in Kyiv. We had the summer tires. I didn’t change tires because the snow appeared suddenly. I fell down from a bicycle. I was riding from my home to work. I fell down once and a second time after half an hour.
During that day, I fell down another two times. I wasn’t wearing any equipment. I was careless. I don’t care. That’s fine. When I came home in the evening, I had a huge pain in my knee. I went to the doctor. He said, “You have to go to surgery.” I made an operation after a few days. It costs money. On the next day, I said to all of our crews, “Here are motorcycle helmets, elbows, knees, jackets, shoes and gloves.” We equipped our couriers with all their equipment. I said, “If you are riding at home on your own, it’s up to you, but when you’re at work, you have to wear everything. Safety first. This is my recommendation to all. Please care about it. Please wear a helmet.
Especially when you’re starting out. It is a 150-pound bicycle. If it falls with you, it’s going to be more mess. That’s the reality. When you learn to roller blade or roller skate, the things that they often give you are a wrist guard and the elbow guard because one of the most common injuries, especially for rollerblading or rollerskating is the elbow. When you fall back on your elbow, that can be a debilitating bruise. It’s hard to raise your arm. You can get bursitis and other things. It’s just an inflammation in the arm but it takes a while to recover. I like to be active. I love to cycle. I know that I would probably become a fast addict to e-bikes because it’s less work. It’s a lot of fun. That’s fantastic.
You have an opportunity to ride our bike.
I’m going to get to Santa Clara. I’m going to try it out, and I can always report back. I think that will be fun. Maybe you can come back on and I can give you a review. If there was a question that I haven’t asked that you wish I had, what might it be? You could ask and answer it. If you don’t have something or just a thought you would like to leave our audience with.
If you would ask me about our plans, what are we going to do?
Are you going to have a motorcycle?
Motorcycle was in our plans, and we acquired an ex-Soviet trademark of Dnepr motorcycles. It’s a three-wheel motorcycle with a car on the right side. We have a trademark and all the intellectual property rights for this Soviet motorcycle. Probably, we will develop it within the next few years and launch it on the market.
With the sidecar?
Probably yes. If people like it, why not? Speaking about closer plans like this year and next year, one of my largest goals and my personal goal as a CEO and founder of this company is to move the production to America. We produce our bikes in China. Most of the parts are assembled in China like batteries. The frames., we produce in Ukraine, but 80% of spare parts are produced in Asia. We want to move the production to the US. We have already started to make electronics here. Our next step is producing metal parts, frames, plastic parts, and the assembly of the bike.
I want to establish manufacturing here. We didn’t decide which state yet, but this is on our list. This is our next test to find out which state. I speak with authorities in different states, Texas, Nevada, New Jersey and California. We are on the way to figuring it out. We want to move production here to be closer to our customers and to produce these e-bikes so they will be assembled and made in the US.
We’ve raised an investment round for this purpose. We’ll be raising a $20 million Series-A round. This is our second big goal, to raise investment. The third goal is to launch our new model, which I mentioned before. It will be a smaller, lighter version, and more affordable. It will give more fun and enjoyment to riding. Not much heavy and not such brutal, but it will be good for more people, men and women. We are hoping to launch it in September, so please stay tuned.
That’s in time for my birthday. I’m half joking but I would never say no to a gift like that. If you’re looking for a beta tester, even if it’s on loan, I would love to beta test an e-bike. That would be a lot of fun. As we close this episode, I want to invite everyone to investigate further, including some of the videos that you have online. People can quickly snapshot them and get a feel for what these bikes are like. It is such a blend of available technologies. I think they look cool. I’m impressed, and it can take a lot to impress me in the space of an electric bike. Your website is US.DelfastBikes.com.
It can also just be DelfastBikes.com without the US. It will automatically redirect you to the US version of the site.
That’s fantastic. You can find a dealer local to you. I understand you have more than 100, so it shouldn’t be that difficult.
Yes. If you don’t have a dealer, call us or write in our chat on our website. We’ll reply immediately and find the solution on how to bring the bike to you.
Daniel, thank you so much for joining me. This has been my pleasure.
Thank you. It was a pleasure for me. Thank you for having me here.
If you have questions for Daniel or me, I hope you’ll send me a note or leave me a voicemail. All you have to do is click that microphone icon and the bottom right-hand corner, and you can leave me a voicemail message. Go to CareMoreBeBetter.com and contact me directly. You can do so from your mobile device as well. Thank you now and always for being a part of this show and this community. Thank you for helping us reach our 100th episode. I feel like I need a little bit of celebration with all of you, but this has been fun to host a conversation about a technology that can help you get outdoors, enjoy some sunshine, take care of errands, and pollute less.
These are all the sorts of solutions that we need if we’re going to correct the global climate crisis and ultimately, build a world that our children, our grandchildren, and our grandchildren’s grandchildren can live in and thrive in. Thank you now and always for being a part of this show and this community because together, we can do so much more. We can care more and we can be better. We can even regenerate Earth. Thank you.
- Kayra Martinez – past episode
- Delfast Ebikes
- Nina Simons – past episode
- https://www.Linkedin.com/in/datonko/ – Daniel Tonkopi
- https://www.Instagram.com/delfastbikes/ – Delfast Ebikes