Dirk Strothmann has been selling the first contactless dynamo-driven bicycle lighting system around the world since 2012 through his own company, Magnic Innovations.
What were your first steps in putting your idea into practice?
Dirk Strothmann: We began by building a prototype and then contacted companies with our idea. But they were sceptical and did not think that our dynamo was actually saleable. Nevertheless, we applied for a utility model and six months later, at the start of 2012, we launched a crowdfunding campaign. With the 65,000 euros that we raised from that, we went on to finance our patent costs and, with the addition of our own capital, began producing our first series.
What did initial production look like? Who did you use and where did production take place?
D. Strothmann: We wanted our production to be professional from the outset. To ensure we achieve this within our budget, we relied on service providers. With our first project, in which we produced around 1500 lights, we were responsible mainly for design and management. Companies in China produced moulded parts and magnets for us. Then an electronics company in Germany ran production for us. Nevertheless, there was still some manual work for me to do- but then I had help from my family, particularly my wife.
What did other people say about it -your family, friends, the cycling community?
D. Strothmann: Many people thought we were crazy to try putting our idea into practice. Some of our friends in the cycling community or even patented agents were initially sceptical about whether we could make a success of our project. When we took our utility design to a cycling fair in Essen in 2012, there was a lot of discussion about whether our product was “authentic”.
- Dirk Strothmann
With the STARTERCENTER NRW, we began by considering various funding opportunities and thus gained a really good overview of all funding initiatives. We learned quite a bit about funding as we went through the various funding application procedures.
What was your experience of potential funding initiatives and what did you take from them?
D. Strothmann: With the STARTERCENTER NRW, we began by considering various funding opportunities and so gained a really good overview of all funding initiatives. We learned quite a bit about funding as we went through the various funding application procedures. Here it is often even an advantage if you have not gotten that far with developing your project and other people who you work with in the company can also refer to it.
What would be your advice to anyone wanting t o start up their own business but who has so far not had the courage to do so?
D. Strothmann: I think it always depends on a person’s own situation and willingness to take risks. Financial support certainly makes it easier to start a project. But ultimately, it is a personal decision.
In the coming years, Magnic Innovations wants to work more professionally. The products need to be less expensive and ideally available for purchase from German stationary bicycle retailers. Dirk Strothmann is also planning on recruiting staff to increase business efficiency.
All images © MWIDE NRW/Christopher Koch