Martin Angelov and Michail Klenov are two young architects who, instead of designing buildings, have entered the world of product design. In this interview, Martin shares how the idea about their bike Halfbike was born, what difficulties they have gone through and how they became millionaires in less than a month.
Ivan Belchev for Success Stories Mag:
Your idea about Halfbike emerged because of an international competition about bicycles. What thoughts flashed across your mind then?
Well, initially, I started contemplating on the concept of a conventional bike. Then I started making some changes and because I like to go to extremes, little by little I arrived at the idea to isolate the moving mechanism of the conventional bike (a rear wheel connected with the pedals by a chain) and to see what I can do with it by making a redesign of all other elements. It was then that the concept of stand-up driving without a seat was born. The original model was with one small rear wheel and I believed that one will be able to turn with a twist of the body.
Version 1 and version 2 of the Halfbike design are significantly different. How did this transition happen only within 1 year?
What happened is that, together with Michail Klenov, we faced actual production and learned a lot of things. I love to simplify things to infinity and the second version was a logical evolution that was also a very stormy one.
The principle of the frame construction changed dramatically, and the rear wheel carrier was already a complete development of ours. More and more were the things that already depended on us.
After the campaign of Halfbike II in Kickstarter, you won about 1 million dollars and more than 2,000 orders. It was far beyond your goal – 50 000 dollars and 150 bicycles. What was the emotion in the early days and how did you manage with the production?
It took us 12 hours to reach our goal and we could not believe what was happening. The emotions ranged from great joy to … “well, what shall we do now?” 🙂 One thing is to assemble 100 bicycles, another one – 2500. After the end of the campaign this turned out to be the most funded project for a vehicle in Kickstarter in general.
In the beginning the situation was full of unknown issues, but little by little, through hard work and many stressful moments throughout the summer, things fell into place.
One of the reasons for me to not be occupied with architecture is that the development of our cities is determined by undisguised mobsters acting through forceful methods and their only goal is to feed construction companies.
For the time being, we are trying to isolate ourselves in a small islet of normalcy and, fingers crossed, we hope that we are not just a few.