From Casual Roommates to Business Partners Who Are Reinventing the Biking Experience

The story behind Helios, the start-up that created handlebars with integrated LED, Bluetooth, and GPS tracking

Kenny, Tony and Seena met in college where they were randomly assigned as roommates. Soon after they realized that the skill-sets complemented each other’s and they started working on a variety of projects.

“Kenny came up with the idea of creating handlebars with integrated lighting & he pitched it to us. We whipped up a prototype in less than a couple weeks and were like "Okay, what's next"? At this point we sat down and wrote a giant list of features that we could potentially add to Helios Bars. After a week of refining the list, we knew what had to be done. Fast-forward a few months later and our prototypes are everything we had hoped for”, Seena explains.

“The name? Helios represents the sun in Greek mythology. It was originally a codename for our project, but everyone we talked to vibed with it, so we decided to keep it”.

The Design

There have been many exciting moments since they decided to build the product. One of the most challenging was when they realized they can make something good. “My advice to every aspiring designer is to simplify things and to take a step back. We often find ourselves asking, "what can we remove from this to make it better", Seena says.

“We went through several revisions before we hit on what we wanted. My only advice is: don't be afraid to revise your design. Keep revising until you hit the perfect balance of all your priorities. That's when a product is ready for market.”

As of right now, Helios Bars are manufactured in Shenzhen, China. This is because the guys have participated in the HAXLR8R startup incubator, which takes place in Shenzhen and San Francisco. They stayed in China for 4 months to learn all the ins-and-outs of producing a hardware product in China.

“We learned a lot, especially design-for-manufacturing, finding factories, business etiquette, as well as a wide variety of technical skills that we had only tinkered with before”, they confirm.

One of their top priorities when assessing the design of the handlebars was to fully understand what the design for manufacturing (DFM) is. As they said “anyone who is interested in manufacturing a hardware product on a large/massive scale needs to become familiar with the DFM”.

Silicon Valley

Tech companies are attracted to the Bay Area / Silicon Valley because that's where all the investors & reputable companies are based. As Seena explains, “If you can afford an office in the financial district of SF, it signifies to the world that your company must be doing something right. This is the dream that a lot of startups chase. San Francisco is a great place to live, make connections, and start fundraising, but as far as manufacturing goes, we couldn't have been happier with China”.

“Future plans? We want to show the world that our product is effective & easy to use, but if we make it look too easy then our product might get dismissed as being too simple by some people. It's tricky”, Seena concludes.

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Katrin
24 Jul, 2013 Katrin
AWESOME! Good JOB guys!
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