Both Waze and Volvo are reportedly considering to incorporate Yerka into its products. Waze specifically wants to include the startup into its live map to notify cyclists of potential crashes.
Similarly, Volvo is looking into install sensors into vehicles to detect cyclists. For one of the founders, safety concerns prevent people from purchasing bicycles in the first place.
“We believe that the security problem is what prevents more people from using this method of transport,” said Cristobal Cabello, CEO and co-founder of Yerka. “That’s why we are in talks with Waze to include cyclists and get a notification when there are crashes, for example.”
Yerka bicycles are essentially the padlock themselves. This makes it impossible to steal without breaking it. The price for the Yerka V3 model goes between CLP$299,990 and CLP$389,990, roughly between US$430 and US$560.
Cristobal Cabello founded Yerka with two civil engineers Andres Roi and Juan Jose Monsalve in 2013. At the time, they were students at Universidad Adolfo Ibanez where they created the prototype out of PVC pipe. In 2015, they built 210 units after a successful crowdfunding campaign. Some donors ended up getting a free bicycle from their contributions.
“We shared the idea we had and offered that, if they wanted, they would donate and in nine months we would give them their bicycle,” said Cabello.
Today is Yerka part of Negocio Chrysalis Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Valparaiso’s startup portfolio. To date, Yerka has raised US$500 thousand of private capital. It also obtained two funds worth a total of US$100 thousand via Chile’s Corporation for the Promotion of Production (Corfu).
All the while, the company is currently seeking to raise a Series B round for a targeted US$3 million. Funds will reportedly be divided into installments of US$100 thousand with the first part concluding towards the end of June.
The new capital will go towards scaling production as well as introducing new products such as a motorized bicycle by 2020. Nowadays, Yerka sells around 600 bicycles a year in 23 countries. Yerka invoiced US$300,000 in 2018.