Secrets of Success: Ian O’Connor – Managing Director, Eskuta

Defining opportunities in the world of e-bikes

Established in 2015, Eskuta are the company behind the uniquely designed e-bike the SX-250. The bike, which is assembled by hand at the company’s headquarters and workshop in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, resembles a moped but is in-fact a road legal e-bike. A popular choice as the bike can be ridden anywhere a regular pedal cycle is permitted, so no sitting in timely traffic jams and no tax, insurance or fuel to pay for. In-line with electric vehicles becoming more prevalent in the UK market Eskuta have, in recent years expanded the consumer side of the business and are now looking to emulate this success into Europe.

Ian takes the time to chat to Business Matters …

What is the main problem you solve for your customers?

We have a diverse customer base which is split between consumer and B2B. Within the consumer stream our customers span all generations, however, their commonality is that they are all looking for a cost effective, carbon neural and cheap to run electric vehicle. Older customers love the bike for its more robust styling, comfort, storage capacity and safety features such as indicators, rear view mirrors and LED lighting, comfort saddle, suspension, and motorcycle grade braking system, which gives them a greater sense of presence and confidence on the road. Younger customers who may not have a driving licence enjoy the bike as it not only looks cool but it’s a great, easy way to get around. We also have several customers who due to a disability are unable to drive and so do not have a licence but want to be able to get around without relying on public transport.

What made you start your business – did you want to rock the status quo or fill a gap in the marketplace?

At the time of inception back in 2015, e-bikes were not at all mainstream in the UK. I identified that there was a gap in the market for consumers who wished to commute sustainably and cost-effectively and for business’s, particularly those in the takeaway and delivery industry who wished to reduce their delivery costs and, key to this particular market, reduce the time taken to complete deliveries. Quicker delivery times equal the more deliveries that can be completed and the great thing about using the SX-250 to get around is that it can be used in cycle lanes, which means no sitting in costly traffic jams. Time lost because of congestion costs the UK economy approximately £2 billion per year and as well as the huge economic costs, congestion also imposes serious environmental costs.

What are your brand values?

As an electric mobility company, we believe electrification can bring freedom of motion to the masses, whilst at the same time contribute to the longevity and heath of our planet. Our products are designed with this goal in mind, cost-effective, intuitive, micro, and sustainable.

Do your values define your decision-making process?

Absolutely, insomuch that within our decision-making process, the end goal is to bring freedom of sustainable motion to the masses. As a society we are on the verge of a transport revolution. Innovation and improvements in transport, vehicles and infrastructure have for the past century been slow and incremental. Radical new technologies are emerging that within a generation will transform everyday journeys. Zero carbon emission vehicles are replacing those powered by fossil fuels. New technologies, a re-think on urban architecture, a focus on the environment and radical ideas are all contributing to the acceleration we are now seeing in electric vehicle sector. Eskuta are at the forefront of this revolution; probing, innovating, and challenging the conventional as we all move towards a new era of transportation.

Is team culture integral to your business?

Totally, Eskuta is a family, we all work together as a team to meet the businesses goals and our team are committed to this culture and strategy, many of whom have been with the company since its infancy.

If team culture is integral to your business, what do you do to go the extra mile to to show your team you appreciate them?

Communication between all of us is key, the whole team is involved in developing the business strategy and each member plays a vital role in the day to day running of the business.  Being able to listen to each other is vital, as a team we consolidate feedback both good and bad, ideas and product development. They all know that Eskuta is a team effort, and we are all working together to hit the same goals. Additionally, the company operates a monthly bonus scheme whereby all members of the Eskuta team benefit from the company’s ongoing success.

In terms of your messaging do you think you talk directly to your consumers in a clear fashion?

Yes, communication is key to the success of the business. Both with our messaging from a wider marketing level through to our direct communications with our customers. In this respect our strategy has been to go back to basics. We speak to every customer that places an order. We also communicate with them via telephone, email, and text throughout the process from order placement, manufacture to delivery. Delivery is via our own trained driver and the customer receives a handover of the product at their door. Additionally, we communicate with our customers post-delivery to ensure they are totally satisfied with their bike and enjoying their purchase, as they should.

What’s your take on inflation and interest rates – are you going to pass that on to your customers or let your margins take a hit and reward customer loyalty in these tougher times?

We have reviewed our pricing model based upon current dollar/GBP exchange rates, together with additional importation costs. We feel from a competitive perspective that we do not wish to increase prices further so in fact are absorbing additional costs in achieving this and ensuring our products are competitive.

How often do you assess the data you pull in and address your KPIs and why?

Constantly, to ensure that our customers and their reviews and recommendations, meet the expectations of the business. By doing so, we believe this is the only way we can grow our business.

Is tech playing a much larger part in your day-to-day running of your company?

More and more so and we are always looking to implement new innovations to make our processes simpler, easier, and more effective. We have recently introduced a tracking and communication App for our deliveries, which gives our customers real time data on their delivery. Additionally, we are automating several processes within the business to increase productivity, reduce manual work and overall improve the customer journey and experience.

What is your attitude to your competitors?

Respectful, insomuch that every business is working to create success and where possible improve. We believe we have the edge over our competitors with a unique product and a high level of customer service. For us to grow and remain ahead of our competitors, we need to constantly improve and be innovative in our products and processes, however, we also acknowledge electric mobility is a relatively new sector and a collective movement so from that perspective we are very supportive of the all the businesses within the community.

Do you have any advice for anyone starting out in business?

Believe in what you can achieve, and do not give up or be deterred by setbacks. Have a firm and detailed plan of action. Whilst this needs to be fluid as things change, the overall goal and ambition should remain constant.

It can be a lonely and pressured place to be as the lead decision maker of the business. What do you do to relax, recharge, and hone your focus?

Do not make the mistake of believing working all hours is beneficial. Everyone needs to take time to rest and recharge. I always try and switch off when I walk through the door of my home, as difficult that is. This helps me to be refreshed and focused for the next day.

What is your company’s eco strategy?

All our products utilise, where possible, components that are or can be recycled. Our packaging is removed as we build a complete product, and this export packaging is recycled accordingly. We are implementing initiatives to reduce our utility use and with this, our carbon footprint.

What three things do you hope to have in place within the next 12 months?

  • Commencement of our export business
  • Replacement product line for our existing hero product the SX-250
  • To expand our  B2B business via our own website

Cherry Martin

Cherry Martin

Cherry is Associate Editor of Business Matters with responsibility for planning and writing future features, interviews and more in-depth pieces for what is now the UK’s largest print and online source of current business news.
Cherry Martin

Cherry is Associate Editor of Business Matters with responsibility for planning and writing future features, interviews and more in-depth pieces for what is now the UK’s largest print and online source of current business news.