A Smart Solution to Store Bikes
BLock is a Hungarian startup looking to innovate by bringing smart bike racks to the market, popularizing urban cycling and eradicating bike theft in the process. The Budapest Business Journal talks with CEO Szabolcs Szilágyi about the companyʼs history and goals.
Szabolcs Szilágyi (left) and Márk Boros. Photo by Adrien Köő. (The caption in the original print version of the article featured a wrong name instead of Márk Boros. We apologize for the mistake.)
BBJ: How did the core idea of BLock come about?
SzSz: I got a blue bicycle from my grandparents for my 12th birthday. I loved it to the point of using it almost every day. But one day it got stolen and I never got it back. It was a trauma for me and on that day I swore to eradicate bicycle theft from the face of the Earth. Now, 13 years later, I have my own company providing automated eBike rental services for hotels, and safe, secure, and effortless urban parking and charging for bicycles and scooters.
BBJ: What sets BLock apart from its competitors in the field of bicycle storage?
SzSz: Since this is a brand new market, we don’t really have any direct competitors in Europe. But for those in the United States, we provide more secure hardware-based three-point locking, a faster return on investment, additional services for users, and our BLOCK 3P Smart Racks are also cheaper (if you look at life cycle cost).
BBJ: How many people make up your team?
SzSz: AviBike Ltd., the legal owner of the BLOCK brand, was founded by me and my friend Márk, who’s also an engineer. Then we got an investment and brought one of our mentors on board. In 2020 we would like to expand our team and hire new talents. Salesmen, marketing managers and a permanent software developer.
BBJ: What successes has BLock achieved so far?
SzSz: A lot, actually. It seems like we uncovered a real pain point with our idea because everyone seemed to like it and our journey was paved with success from the start.
Right at our first competition we won a special award and went on a fully paid trip to Israel, to the DLD Tel Aviv expo, to showcase our initial idea. A few days after coming home, we won the regional EIT Climate-KIC Launchpad startup competition.
Next we traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland to the international finals, where we were placed in the “Top six Most Promising” in the Urban Transitions category. Coming back, once again, we won the first Startup Campus x BME x Hiventures competition and got our first investment.
We were also accepted into EIT’s Accelerator program, where we got an EUR 10,000 grant and KPMG’s special award for the best startup.
And last but not least, we won probably the most prestigious startup mentoring program in the CEE region: Design Terminal. We were selected as the crowd favorite on the DemoDay, thus bringing home the main prize, a fully paid trip to Belgium, to the hottest startup event.
BBJ: What are your plans for the future?
SzSz: We have a pretty straightforward notion: Get our customers and clients’ attention, sell them our services through long-term beneficial partnerships, realize an ever-increasing revenue, enhance our portfolio with more Smart City and hospitality services, innovate, grow and put it on repeat.
As a last step, we will sell our company to the highest bidder within the next five years. From that exit share, I’d like to start new ventures, because I have many more ideas and I love being a CEO. This is what I do best.
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