Photo by Nolan Schmidt
John Machacek, Chief Innovation Officer for the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation, has worked with countless startups throughout our community over the past seven years. He knows their ups, their downs, but most of all, he knows the questions to ask them. Here are John Machacek’s 10 questions for Tucker Richardson and Jeff Johnson of Galeo Group, who are creating a product to prevent bike theft.
1. Tell us your Galeo elevator pitch?
Tucker: Every year, roughly 2 million bikes are stolen in North America alone and only 5% of those ever make it back to their owners. To address this problem, Galeo attaches to your bike and it has a motion sensor in it. So this means it can alert you the second it moves without your consent. If your bike has been stolen you can then remotely activate Galeo’s audible alarm, right from your phone, and then track down your bike with Galeo’s GPS and active Cell connection.
2. What makes it different from other trackers?
Tucker: There are plenty of standalone GPS trackers on the market. We’ve taken an entirely different approach and created a system designed specifically to help protect, track, and recover your bike. With respect to other bike trackers, Galeo is one of the few dedicated solutions offered in North America, it has one of the longest battery lives in the industry, and one of the smallest form factors. Galeo is the only tracker to come with a Project 529 shield and it’s also designed, manufactured, and supported in the United States, Fargo ND actually!
3. How and what did you learn about bicycle theft to know this was a good target?
Tucker: Discovering the size and scope of the bike theft problem was the first step in our journey into bike theft, but the real tipping point was when we linked up with Project 529. It’s so important to immerse yourself in an ecosystem if you want a chance at showing up and making an impact in a problem space. So when we started to build a relationship with Project 529 and our understanding of root cause problems deepened it quickly became evident how well suited our technology was for the space.
4. How does or would the partnerships with police departments work?
Tucker: Imagine a world where you can push a button on your phone and immediately request help from the police in the event of a theft. Or, as a police officer who is passionate about the bike theft problem, imagine downloading a free mobile application and receiving an alert with a real time GPS location any time a bike is stolen. Enhance that alert with the information necessary for the police to verify ownership (photos, serial numbers, etc.) and you have an ecosystem that can really make an impact.
That’s the system we think needs to exist in order to truly put a dent in the bike theft problem. A community of cyclists and law enforcement, connected and working together to keep your property safe.
5. What are your goals for 2021?
First, we aim to launch Galeo and turn it into a growing, profitable business.
As we do that we want to build a great brand. If we do a good job at building a brand it will open other doors, other means of distribution in the cycling world: businesses like bike shops and e-tailers that focus on this market
Later this year, our plan is to release another product under the Galeo brand that will protect other high-value, consumer assets.
6. Why did you decide to build these products here in North Dakota?
Jeff: When you think of high-tech, consumer electronics companies, your first thought is not North Dakota. We want to change that.
Creating sustainable jobs in our community and building a lasting legacy is always going to be at the heart of what motivates us at The Galeo Group. I think I can safely say the same about Appareo as well who is our design and manufacturing partner. Bringing a product to production at a facility that is just a few steps away comes with incalculable advantages.The most notable being the simple ability to have a face to face conversation with the people building your product. This will result in better quality control, streamlined communication of production and development issues, a better understanding of Galeo customer value on the production floor, and real sense of a unified mission across the board. In short, a better product.
7. When do you plan to launch and how can one buy Galeo?
Tucker: We will be launching Galeo through Kickstarter in February of this year. Production will begin in March and product will begin shipping at that time. If you’re not familiar, Kickstarter is a crowd-funding platform where businesses can launch their products by (typically) offering discounts and early bird deals to their backers (what you call someone who contributes money to your campaign). It’s often used as a source of funding for fledgling startups but it can also be a great place to generate a lot of buzz, build a following, and interact on a personal level with the first people willing to take a chance on your product.
If you’re interested in being notified when we launch, visit FindGaleo.com and sign up for our newsletter!
8. Jeff, you have an extensive and impressive history in technology product management that includes Great Plains Software, BeAtHome, Echelon and Appareo. What advice would you have for others still cutting their teeth in the field?
Jeff: Read voraciously in the areas that excite you, and look for inflection points in technology. In our case, we became aware about three years ago of the brand-new cellular networks that were being built across the US that were targeting small, battery-operated devices. They provided the foundation for the Galeo bike tracker.
9. If you could go back in time to Jeff & Tucker from any number of years ago, what hindsight advice would you give yourself?
Tucker: I would tell myself to continue focusing on experimenting in entrepreneurship, building valuable skills and learning as much as possible from the people around you who have accomplished great things.
Jeff: Stay curious, and don’t discount your ideas as unworkable just because you can’t do the whole job yourself. Align yourself with like-minded people who have diverse skill sets. Focus on building trusted relationships. Without trust, things don’t work out in the long-term.
10. What can we do as a community to help The Galeo Group succeed?
Help us spread the word about our upcoming launch and the bike theft problem in general. Every share, like, follow, and conversation is incredibly valuable to us.
Visit findgaleo.com to learn more.