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Two Quebecers invented a Hydro-bike that lowers the electricity bill.
A stationary bike that stores energy and turns it into electricity. This is the revolutionary product designed by Off The Grid, a young company founded by Charles Couture-Lebrun and Sébastien Brunelle-Jestin.
“The idea is simple. The bike is equipped with a device that allows it to be plugged into a wall outlet so that the accumulated energy is redistributed to the building’s network “, explains Charles Couture-Lebrun, HEC Montréal graduate in operations management and logistics.
The concept may be simple, but it took almost three years to develop.
“We had to make sure that the bike gave the users the same experience as a conventional bike, that it did not offer more resistance,” he adds.
They also worked with the École de Technologie supérieure (ÉTS) to validate the proof of concept.
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Inspired by his father
It was his father, a bicycle enthusiast, who inspired him to launch the product.
“He saw that all the energy spent on training was wasted. So I wondered how to get it back,” explains Charles, who teamed up with his friend Sébastien, an electrical engineering graduate from the University of Sherbrooke, to develop the concept.
Initially, they target the clientele of the training halls who have shown great interest. “We have over $ 500,000 worth of letters of intent,” says Charles Couture-Lebrun.
“The electricity bill represents a significant percentage of their operating costs for these companies,” explains Sébastien Brunelle-Jestin. With our solution, it is estimated that they will achieve energy savings of $ 50 to $ 60 per bike per year. “
However, the orderly closure of these establishments due to COVID-19 forced the two entrepreneurs to test other potential markets, including condo towers and school gymnasiums. They do not rule out the idea of selling their bikes individually for individuals.
After a test phase with around ten customers, the two entrepreneurs plan to market their products early 2021.
Quebec will be their first market, but they are already eyeing Ontario, where electricity costs are higher than here.
They will then attack the United States once it has obtained the necessary certifications to sell electrical equipment.
The financing challenge
The associates have invested over $ 180,000 in the development of their product.
“Funding was the biggest challenge,” says Charles Couture-Lebrun. We have made requests for several government programs. We also benefited from scholarships. “
Off The Grid has indeed stood out in entrepreneurial competitions, including the MTL Tech Awards, an international innovation competition presented by Montreal. The young company recently won the audience’s award. In October, she took part in the NYC Startup Tour, an event organized by the Department of Economy and Innovation and the McGill Dobson Center for Entrepreneurship. Presented for the first time in virtual mode, it allowed the two partners to market themselves to investors.
They are thinking big and already have other product ideas in their boxes.
“Our technology adapts well to different training equipment, such as rowers, ellipticals and stairmasters,” explains Charles Couture-Lebrun.
In short, there is no shortage of projects for Off The Grid.