Coboc GmbH & Co.KG
Coboc is anything but hard to find: once inside the former Heidelberger Druckmaschinen building, all you need to do is follow the wheel tracks along the corridor. Only when looking around in the workshop do you start to wonder: where has the E gone? The simple answer is: in the frame – where the former physics students and part-time bicycle couriers have hidden their innovative technology.
Founded in 2011, the company has managed to rid the electric bicycle of its clumsiness – along with its reputation of being a two-wheeler for senior citizens – by reinventing the wheel, so to speak, or in this case the e-bike.
“In the early stages of development we realised there is nothing on the market that really impresses us,” says Annalena Horsch, co-managing director of Coboc. With this point in mind, all the components have been rethought and redesigned, including the drive system, the software and the frame design, right here in Baden-Württemberg – a good place for Coboc – as Baden-Württemberg is not only a bicycle state, but a start-up state, too. “We are creators. And we are innovative,” says the entrepreneur, describing the mentality of the region.
In the course of the company’s history, the young developers have repeatedly benefited from innovation vouchers and funding opportunities provided by the state, as well as a great many useful tips, plenty of help and good opportunities for collaborating with other companies. For Coboc, all these factors formed a great network on which to build.
“The e-bikes on the market didn’t have enough to offer.”
At Coboc, the early start-up phase was quite an adventure. “The way we began – we were the most rudimentary start-up imaginable. As the story goes, on some of our early sales trips you had to sleep either on the sofa with a lot of luck – or on the floor at friends’ places with a little bad luck.”
But those days are a thing of the past and Coboc has long since gained a foothold on the bicycle market – both nationally and internationally – and nevertheless remained a thoroughly Baden-Württemberg company. “With the exception of one salesman in northern Germany, all our employees are based here in Heidelberg, including our five developers and our lightweight design engineer. And the drive systems are really still built in the workshop next door.”
At Coboc, everyone is busy developing, testing and working on the next improvements – with the help of a manually operated milling machine nicknamed “Erna” and supported by a 3D printer.
“Rudimentary” became “reduced” – to the absolute essentials – the best technology, the most harmonious design and the most fun to ride. Annalena Horsch nods: “After all, our product was not born from the question of what the market wants, but from the question: what do we personally find cool?”