It’s always impressive to see companies make an unprecedented breakthrough in a particular field…. Vanhawks, a Canadian company, run by two Pakistani origin young gentlemen aims to revolutionise urban commuting, and we are almost proud to share that they have successfully transformed a simple idea into an enterprising new venture. How???
During a Skype interview recently, Ali, the CEO of Vanhawks said that he ‘learned it on-the-go!’
Many young professionals begin their career path through gainful employment, determined to work long and hard to slowly build themselves up in order to realise their dream project. For most entrepreneurs, the path to realising their vision takes a long time to travel down, often beset with high risks, personal responsibilities, and a need to establish themselves first before taking the plunge. Yet, every so often, we witness a story where people decide to risk it all right at the beginning of their career, and become fortunate enough to make their dream a reality. Such is the story of Vanhawks!
As a company focused on changing up personal urban transportation in today’s world, Vanhawks is an emerging force of young entrepreneurs whose goal is to innovate for the future. With the production of their first bicycle, the Vanhawks Valour, Vanhawks envisions to provide a more efficient, cost-effective, and safer experience for commuters everywhere.
Vanhawks began as a company working on a modest idea of creating bicycles made out of carbon fibre. While the premise was initially simple, the creators spearheading the project decided to incorporate additional features such as GPS navigation, riding metrics, and blind spot sensors into their design to make it more convenient for bike riders. In time, they gave birth to a revolutionary new product that not only prioritised comfort, but also safety and convenience.
The idea formulated as early as 2010, when CEO Sohaib Zahid began work on designing a bicycle using a unique manufacturing process involving carbon fibre. The design would make it so that the rider could enjoy a highly-sophisticated bicycle without putting a huge dent in their wallet. Eventually, the project branched out to incorporating technology to aid the rider, and with the hiring of Ali Zahid as Chief of Operations and Niv Yahel as Chief Technology Officer, Vanhawks was officially born.
“Before, we were just working on innovating on carbon fibre and how you build a bike,” says Ali Zahid. “When I joined the team, they were already thinking about how we can implement technology and how we can make the bike smart. With me coming on board, that was kind of my role, and we started to build what the bike of the future would look like.”
With an exciting new direction laid out for them, and a team of highly qualified professionals to work with, the founders began their journey to create their dream project. The team did face hurdles along the way, from designing and manufacturing a product that was completely new and unconventional, to forming a supply chain and finding a way to sell their product, to establishing a consumer base and integrating a customer service backend, among other difficulties. However, for the Zahid brothers, this was a learning experience from which they understood a lot about how to set up their business and run it.
“Someone who doesn’t have a business degree, or has never ran a business, or doesn’t know anything about it, that’s where I was, and I kinda learned it on-the-go,” Ali Zahid shares when discussing the Vanhawks project. “The biggest thing I’ve learned is, I love what I do. I’m a really ambitious guy, and there’s nothing else that would have satisfied the drive that I have internally. This is what makes me the happiest, and I’m glad to have found what really makes me happy.”
As a firm that initially started from a group of friends, the work environment at Vanhawks has been moulded to be friendlier and more open, with no cubicles to restrict employees. Instead, the founders believe that, as opposed to a regular 9-to-5 drill, the idea behind working at Vanhawks entails a lifestyle of building something for the future that the team would be proud of. Their understanding of how people working for them are going to be ambitious and like taking big challenges is what drives the work culture to be as comfortable as it is.
Vanhawks’ keen intuition has not only been limited to their workforce, but also their consumer base, as their philosophy is firmly rooted in the idea of making the best quality bicycles and putting the customer’s concerns at top priority. While working on mass production of their units, the designers learned that the sealing systems on their handlebars which housed a major portion of their integrated electronics weren’t performing up to the mark. Their solution was to rework on the design and manufacture new units, while simultaneously informing customers who had pre-ordered of the situation to ease concerns regarding timely shipment. This decision proved to be favourable for them, as in the span of 2 months, the company had shipped out more than 500 bikes, with a lot of positive feedback from their consumer base.
Recounting the experience of being a new entrepreneur, Ali Zahid states that it was something he could not have prepared for. “All my mentors told me it was going to be hard,” he quips, expressing the difficulties that young entrepreneurs have to face when working on their vision. However, the founders’ firm belief in their team’s ideas, their abilities, and resilience to challenges are what have driven them to not only start their own company, but make a world-class product that is unrivalled.