Energy Mad co-founder Tom Mackenzie launches Kickstarter campaign for 'Levicle'

Energy Mad [NZX: MAD] co-founder Tom Mackenzie has launched a $25,000 Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to launch his invention, the Levicle, which is a cross between a scooter and a bike and resembles a penny-farthing.

The Auckland-based entrepreneur conceived the idea of the vehicle on a trip to the supermarket a few years ago. He wanted to emulate the feeling he got when pushing the trolley around and balancing himself on the handlebar.

Mackenzie resigned from his executive role with the listed eco lightbulb firm, Energy Mad, at the end of May and as a director in June, but remains one of the major shareholders. Earnings downgrades have seen its share price slump to just 4.7c a share compared to 58c in early 2014 although co-founder Chris Mardon has said the company is on track for profitability next year.

Mr Mackenzie said he left to focus on finalising prototypes of the Levicle, on which he had "tinkered away in his mancave" while still working at the firm.

The campaign offers crowdfunders a Levicle in exchange for the vehicle's $239 retail price delivered anywhere in the world before Christmas. After Christmas the price will drop to $199. So far 11% of the $25,000 has been raised, with 20 days to go.

After trying different prototypes, Mr Mackenzie settled on a design with a seat close to the handlebars, eliminating the need to bend the back while still providing the "trolley" levitating effect.

Mr Mackenzie is offering two models aimed at children and commuters. On the Kickstarter campaign he says the bike is suitable for ages six to 122 years old.

The seat and handle bars adjust to the rider's height and its large front wheel means it can ride over stones and other objects a traditional scooter can't. At less than 5kg, the Levicle is half the weight and volume of other folding bikes on the market, which means commuters can more easily carry it on buses and trains.

The speed of acceleration is faster than a bicycle despite it having no pedals and it can be used on the footpath in most countries, he said. Mr Mackenzie, who has an engineering background, is confident the Levicle meets technical standards worldwide and is to get that independently certified in the next couple of weeks.

Money raised in the Kickstarter campaign will fund early orders for the vehicle which will be manufactured in China and he'll then seek distribution partners globally. The Levicle is trademarked and Mr Mackenzie has also applied for a patent for its novel aspects.

The development of the Kickbike by the Finnish in the 1990s changed the way scooters were viewed worldwide, as it had large standard sized bicycle front wheel and a much smaller rear wheel, allowing a faster ride.

Mr Mackenzie didn't want to give predictions on the likely market size for the Levicle but said the Kickbike foldable aluminium scooter at its peak was selling 80,000 a day and he'd be "happy with that."

(BusinessDesk)

BusinessDesk receives funding to help cover the commercialisation of innovation from Callaghan Innovation.

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