"The rosy memories of cycling as a child never felt more distant than on my first cycle ride in the noise and bustle of a big city. But my confidence grew once I started cycling with friends. They showed me quieter back streets and warned me when we were approaching busy junctions. I saw the city in a new perspective and I was hooked. No longer waiting for packed buses or rush hour tubes; I felt instantly healthier, happier, and more alive commuting to work."
Sasha Afanasieva, Blubel's CEO
This is how Blubel was born. We wanted to share this sense of empowerment. Blubel harnesses the knowledge of the cycling community, guiding you where you want to go. The bicycle bell connects to your smartphone through Bluetooth, hence Blubel – Bluetooth bell. This lets the bicycle bell take care of the journey, so you can just enjoy the ride.
Our prototyping journey with Blubel started at Sasha's kitchen table, and in true Blue Peter Style, included some yoghurt pots, sticky-backed plastic and velcro.
After much testing, thanks to our brave cycling friends, we continued to prototype the device. Once we were sure about the key features of the device (like the simple twelve LED interface, fun audio alerts, all in a bicycle bell) we worked with designers to create the aesthetic.
To our delight in February 2016, Blubel won the Smart City Challenge, a competition that invited global entrepreneurs and developers to create technology solutions to some of the most serious problems facing modern cities, backed by partners IBM, the Mayors Office, Venturespring, Tech.London and Urban Design London.
In May 2016 we joined the European Space Agency Business Incubation Programme at Harwell. The programme helps start-ups like Blubel to successfully commercialise space technology to enhance the well-being of ordinary citizens, providing not only funding but also technical expertise and business-development support. We even won the European Space Agency Special Prize at the European Satellite Navigation Competition! Check out our amazing space satellite trophy!
We launched our product on Kickstarter in Summer 2016 and successfully funded our campaign of almost £40,000 from 500 backers. It was "All hands on deck" to get Blubel out there and after months of beta testing and refining the product, we started shipping to our backers in June 2017.
We then were selected to take part in the Transport for London Nitrous Programme, through which we have been able to work closely with the TfL Data Team to develop Blubel's data strategy and provide even more useful information to the Blubel community.