Randall Jacobs of OpenBike
Welcome to Founder Friday, where we learn about the people behind the Highway1 startups.
Today’s founder is Randall Jacobs, CEO and founder of OpenBike.
Tell us a little about your background.
I grew up outside Boston and got into cycling at age 18 after breaking a foot playing football; the first thing I could do coming back from injury was ride. At Northeastern University, I joined the cycling team and got my first taste of the podium. A few years later, while pursuing a graduate degree at The Fletcher School, I won two amateur mountain bike national championships, turned pro, and got a chance to live the dream.
Where did the idea for the business come from?
While working at Specialized, a leading bicycle company, two things became apparent. Firstly, while mechanical design has steadily evolved, bicycles were stuck in the past. Cars have come standard with onboard computers and integrated electronics since the 80s. But bicycles? Outside of e-bikes, bicycles remain largely mechanical, with lights, sensors, computers, and other common electronics slapped on after the fact. Secondly, the industy’s very structure has held back innovation. As a result, bicycle technology remains clunky and expensive; everything has its own battery, little interoperates, and almost nothing connects to the apps or services people are already using.
What is your biggest takeaway since joining Highway1?
How critical it is to incorporate user feedback into your product development cycle early and often; otherwise you risk making the perfect version of something nobody wants. I entered the program far too focused on the grand vision and not enough on how to get there; the Highway1 team really forces you to confront your assumptions.
What are your goals for your time at Highway1?
My co-founder Kyle Manna and I have a two primary goals: to grow as a leadership team, and to achieve a fundable prototype backed by user research. Get that right, and we’ll have a compelling story to tell on Demo Day.