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What is Vanhawks?
Vanhawks is both a hardware and software company with a goal of changing up the urban commute. Technology impacts our lives in countless ways – you’re connected, why shouldn’t your bike be? Our product is the Valour, a connected, carbon fibre, commuter bicycle with built in GPS, blind-spot sensors, integrated front and back lights, and more. The Valour will radically change the way you ride.
Vanhawks has been wildly successful, even without your product on the road yet! Tell us how Vanhawks got there?
The Valour sells itself. It’s so, freaking cool. It’s a carbon fibre bike, for a fraction of the cost of carbon fibre bikes on the market right now (a lot of people get scared at the price tag, but don’t do too much research on what they’re really getting), with all this crazy cool tech integrated. I think everyone’s seen a boom in cycling culture, which is really exciting, and so many people that want to change up their lifestyles/habits want to get into it, but it’s kind of intimidating. A lot of cyclists look like pros, look really hip, and really cool, and really fit, and I think that automatically deters a lot of people from wanting to join in on the fun! The safety features of the Valour, features like Ergon pedals and blind-spot detectors makes commuting, especially for first timers, a lot easier, and safer.
What have you found to be the most successful marketing tactic to build the brand?
Transparency. Building our brand is still a work in progress – but with a product that hasn’t become tangible to customers quite yet, large scale media campaigns haven’t been too much of a priority. Our focus has been on providing the best product that we can and staying honest with our customers. We’ve done our best to share updates with all our customers and supporters – they definitely appreciate it. I think as consumers, we often forget the work that goes into building things – but when we can understand what efforts are really put into creating something (whether it be delicious plate of food, or the latte art in your daily dose of caffeine), you’re able to appreciate it that much more. We’ve received overwhelming support and appreciation from our customers and they’re truly the only reason why we can be Vanhawks today. Though it can be daunting to share a snag, the ability to share in excitement and celebration over successes outweigh it by far.
And the most challenging?
Keeping up! Right now, we have a teeny tiny marketing team of me – I get a ton of support from the co-founders and everyone else on the team, I truly couldn’t do my job without their help. It’s a fun challenge being everywhere (online) all at once (emails, social media, etc). We’re still developing our brand and getting to know our demographic, so it’s a huge learning process. It’s an exciting time where we’re figuring out what kind of content consumers will find engaging, things they don’t bother with, the channels they use to voice their thoughts, and etc, in order to provide the best experience that can be had.
What’s a Typical day in the Vanhawks office?
We don’t have a strict policy when it comes to when ones day should really start. I think that’s my favourite part of the day, haha. The team trickles into the office, the smell of toast fills the room, meeting ensue, before you know it, it’s lunch! We have an open concept office, so everyday, everyone on the team has the opportunity to interact with one another, discuss improvements and new ideas, and learn something new. I’m constantly learning new things from the hardware team that I’ll communicate back to our customers, and my mind is always blown by the cool things the software is working on – but I don’t think it’s just me! Oh, group coffee runs happen, often, and it’s important, haha.
What are your favourite coffee shops?
I personally go back and forth to indulge between this new Japanese shop called Neo Coffee Bar, and one just on the other side of our block called Black Canary. The team also checks in between the two, plus Rooster Coffee every once in a while but we know you can’t go wrong with a good ol’ cup of reliable Tim Hortons.
What are the team’s go-to bike routes?
Truth be told, we collectively, as a team, don’t go on team rides as much as we should… we really don’t go on any. I mean, we really should, but we’ll get to that after we get all our customers a Valour of their own (to join us too). I know that a few of us really enjoy the Lower Don River Trail, Lakeshore is nice too, but it gets crazy crowded with pedestrians and tourists over the weekends. Right now, the team’s been busy testing navigation functions, so they’ve been hitting all the bike lanes and busy streets they can!
What are some apps the team can’t live without?
We’re always on Slack and it’s sometimes more distracting than efficient; ff we can’t cycle, we Uber everywhere; and because we’re SO BUSY and don’t have any time for waiting (just joking), we religiously use Ritual.
What’s next for Vanhawks?
Shipping and delivery! Our first shipment of orders is going out by the end of October, and our second will follow soon after in November – and then, the real fun begins!