Ampler Bikes – Development Cycle
Ampler Bikes is setting out to make urban commuting carbon-free.
“Ampler is a group of people, and a company that would like to see more people commuting emission-free,” says Ardo Kaurit, CEO of Ampler Bikes. “We believe that with our products- light, purpose-built e-bikes, sustainably built, we can get more people on bikes who aren’t necessarily cyclists and do good for them and the environment.”
Ampler Bikes is about improving the overall experience with purpose-built electric bikes. These vehicles have been designed and built with commuting in mind, which means they have to be reliable.
“You can’t have it fail or even have a flat tire on the way to work,” Kaurit insists. “They have to be safe because traffic is dangerous. We want it to be for everyone, which means the bikes themselves have to be easy to use. We are trying to figure out how to make it an effortless ownership experience.”
The bikes they have designed are super lightweight and to look at are virtually indistinguishable from a regular bike.
“The harder you pedal the more the electric motor adds, so it feels like cycling, but you feel a bit stronger, it is less of a burden, you can ride further and they are a little bit faster. It makes cycling more convenient,” Kaurit explains.
Doing It Right
Talking with Kaurit it becomes obvious he has a clear vision for the company, however, that vision comes at a cost.
“I think a lot of challenges we are facing are to do with ensuring we are doing things our way. We have high expectations of our products and the services we offer, meaning we do a lot of things in-house,” Kaurit tells us. “If we want things done our way, we need to do it ourselves. We are selling direct-to-consumer, developing our own bikes, selling our own bikes, and providing our own after-service.”
Having so many moving parts within the company can make growth a careful balancing act.
“We have a complex system where everything has to grow in balance. Growing fast is always a challenge. You have to have all the pieces right,” Kaurit says. “That is true for our assembly activities. Scaling hardware products is a bit different than software; you cannot assemble a bike with one part missing. Supply chain challenges have been tough, but so far, we have managed to learn from our mistakes. We enjoy challenges because they make us stronger. It has not been easy, but it has been exciting.”
Ampler Bikes itself is still a fairly small team of 140 people, divided across all of the company’s activities. It is an agile and flexible firm capable of delivering fast changes. Key to its approach is the way Ampler Bikes is structured to give its team the freedom to take the initiative where it counts.
“We have also built the kind of organisational culture that gives people the freedom to make decisions within their scope of expertise, and that enabled us to grow with less pain,” Kaurit says. “It is not a top-down approach with a really specific set of goals and tools. We set the direction, and we gave people the freedom to make the choices.”
The staff share a high awareness of everything happening in the company, as information is shared across a wide group of people. This means everyone knows what they specifically need to achieve.
“It’s been a challenge, it’s a difficult task to do, but I’m happy with how we’ve been able to do it,” Kaurit tells us. “How it works is we set very generic goals. We agree to, for instance, become capable of delivering or serving 15,000 customers in a specific way. This goal becomes the north star for all our teams, who will each figure out what they have to do.”
That can mean teams asking themselves how big a team they need to provide excellent service, or whether they need to enter new markets or open new showrooms. This process happens throughout the company, in sales, marketing, product development and assembly. However, while each team can take its own initiative, there is also a great deal of communication.
“There is a bit of alignment in the process and speaking to each other, it’s a cross-team effort to make that goal happen,” Kaurit explains.
The Next Generation
Right now, Ampler Bikes’ “North Star” is the launch of a completely new product range.
“We call it the Second Generation, because all the components are basically new,” Kaurit says.
Ampler Bikes has been working on this for several years, taking into account the feedback it has received from the assembly team, from its 15,000 customers around Europe and its own experiences to improve and build even more purpose-built, reliable, sustainable, easy-to-use bikes.
“It’s a big step for us, and very challenging to replace everything,” Kaurit reflects. “All the marketing materials are changing, all the assembly processes change. We are excited to have these bikes ready because they show we are listening to our customers. We are taking advantage of our consumer business model and our connection with our customers.”
Ampler Bikes will be launching even more variety to an even wider audience. Specifically, the company is targeting people who are not cyclists, introducing them to, in their opinion, the best way of commuting around towns.
“It’s all happening in just four days, the biggest ever product news for Ampler since we launched six years ago, and as an international brand we’ve been working really hard on it,” Kaurit says.
This is not the only huge development that Ampler Bikes has had in the works, however.
“We’ve been assembling our own bikes since the beginning,” Kaurit says. “Not many bike companies in Europe do that, it is not the most efficient way to do it. It is cheaper to have it assembled somewhere else, but we made the commitment for several reasons. It has been a learning curve on how to build better bikes, it makes us adaptable to changes and we can make changes faster. Now, as we are growing fast, we have started a new factory project.”
Ampler has been working on building a carbon-neutral bicycle factory, assembling 100,000 units a year. It is a unique project in Estonia, where the sustainability mindset is not as mature as in some other markets.
“We want to build a factory that does all we can to reduce all kinds of emissions during the construction and design process and eventual use of the building,” insists Kaurit. “Whatever we can’t reduce we want to offset locally- not by finding some token somewhere but by producing clean electricity on the spot to make sure we achieve carbon neutrality in the most meaningful way possible.”
Throughout all of this, Ampler Bikes has stayed true to its focus on building bikes that are good for everyday commuting.
“It has set us on a path where decisions are easy for us,” Kaurit says. “We say no to anything that is not relevant to that. We want to expand and give more people the possibility of using our products and changing their lives to be more sustainable. It is still exciting. It is about seizing opportunities. I expect to see a lot more Amplers on the road.”