Meet Cycl: Two KCL students win an investment on Dragons Den!
Agostino and Luca have successfully secured an investment on BBC’s Dragons Den with ‘Cycl’ – aiming to change the way we commute
Cycling in London has had its ups and downs over the last decade, the introduction of ‘Boris Bikes’ thanks to ex-Mayor of London Boris Johnson, the introduction of new laser lights to promote cyclist safety, but numbers of deaths on the road keeps fluctuating.
What Agostino and Luca brought to the dragons on the BBC was a new, safer way of commuting that enabled cyclists to feel comfortable on the roads, with their new product WingLights. The student-entrepreneurs invented a handy and quick way to indicate turning intentions while riding a bicycle, much safer and steadier than the traditional arm-extension.
Having won the LionsDen competition at KCL, they used their business and pitching expertise to fight the dragons and won.
They told us their success story, what it felt like to be faced with the dragons, and how KCL has helped them with their entrepreneurial future.
When you arrived at King’s, did you already have a plan to create a product like this?
“No – our idea came to us about 5 months into my PHD” Agostino said. He also stated “We probably wouldn’t have thought about it if we hadn’t been cyclists ourselves and having to deal with the lack of cyclist safety on London’s busy roads. There was one week, I think it may have been in November a few years ago, where a record breaking amount of deaths were caused at junctions on London’s roads and Luca and I thought that we may be able to change this so we invented WingLights”.
How has studying at King’s help you with creating and getting your product onto the market?
Agostino, a PHD student in Robotics at KCL, has said that KCL support has helped a lot. “We won the ‘Lions Den’ King’s College London competition, winning both best business and best pitch which lead to our partnership at the Entrepreneurship institute at KCL. We are now a part of their accelerator programme and take on KCL students as interns at CYCL.”
Regarding the show, were you nervous when faced with the criticism from some of the Dragons?
“I think we answered well to all the criticisms that we were given. We had been doing it for a long time by that point so we felt as prepared as we could have been.” – Luca
Was it relieving to have two separate investment offers?
They both said of course it was relieving: “When your in the Den, the atmosphere is really tense and the pitch is actually a lot longer than you see on TV. We were just happy that the cyclist on the panel saw our vision and is helping us make it a reality. Besides, for Peter Jones to call our product quality exceptional, we felt really lucky” – Agostino
In short, what kind of conversation did you have when discussing which offer to take?
They both laughed saying that it was clear in the pitch that Nick was the right investor. Luca said that “despite Tuka’s experience and expertise in cycling, Nick seemed to really understand what we were trying to do and as he cycled himself, he could see how our products would be used by city commuters.”
What would you say to any current student with an idea to create a product?
Luca, the CEO, said: “Fail fast, get your idea to the market as soon as possible and if it does well, put your all into making it a valuable company. Wasting time is the enemy of productivity so if the idea doesn’t work, change it”
How has your experience been in he days and weeks after the offer? Have you had much media attention?
“We’ve had amazing feedback on social media, particularly with Twitter as there were hundreds of posts congratulating us on our pitch. CYCL has been in media outlets such as the Evening Standard, Cyclist and was mentioned in Nick Jenkins’ CityAM interview. As a company, we feel really fortunate with all the positive feedback. Luca and Agostino can’t wait to take some of the suggestions on board and start making new products.”
Undoubtedly, both Luca and Agostino have shown that with enough work and dedication, it’s not impossible to get your idea to become a reality. As a cyclist, I will be picking up Cycl lights shortly, especially after the Cycl team has told us that they have a King’s Exclusive discount, using the code KINGS2017 on the Cycl website. The discount allows you to purchase the lights for £9.99, as opposed to the regular price of £26.99 – a steal.
The episode is available to watch on BBC iPlayer here.