One year at Harvard turned Jeff Chen Hao-ren, a student from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), into a startup co-founder.
As an exchange student in the United States, Chen often traveled around by bicycle. Safety concerns related to cycling soon got his attention.
“The local daytime was short and riding a bike in the dark is dangerous, so I would like to come up with a solution,” says Chen.
Chen met his partner, Ding Eu-wen, in a startup event on the campus. They teamed up and developed a prototype of a safety bicycle helmet in just two days and won the championship in a contest organized by Google and Harvard School of Business.
Chen and Ding’s award-winning invention is called Lumos Helmet, which is named after a magic spell that creates light at the tip of the wand in the Harry Potter series.
The Lumos helmet works like the tail lights of a car. An arrow-shaped light on the helmet can indicate the direction the bike is turning to, the wireless remote control for the lighting is installed on the handlebars.
The helmet will automatically turn up the red lights when it senses a slowdown in the bike’s speed, warning the vehicles behind.
Thus, the helmet is believed to greatly improve the safety of all road users.
In order to turn their prototype into a commercially viable product, Chen and Ding further modified the design. They also visited Shenzhen to source electronic parts.
Looking for a manufacturer was no easy job either. “Many factories were unwilling to take our order as it only involves a few thousand units. Luckily, we found a Hong Kong manufacturer who was willing to help,” says Chen.
Through Kickstarter, a crowdfunding platform, Chen and Ding were able to raise US$128,200 in just one day.
They are now selling the helmet on the platform for US$99 each.
As of today, they have raised more than US$440,000 and gained more than 3,400 backers.
The two young entrepreneurs’ current target is to deliver the first batch of their helmets to customers in April 2016.
For the next step, they want to prolong the battery life and further enhance the illumination of Lumos.
Eventually, they hope to replace traditional bike lights with their smart device.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 24.
Translation by Darlie Yiu
– Contact us at [email protected]