Shunned by Banks, the Electric Bike “Made in France” Featured in New York

Electric Bikes made in France to be sold in New York
Electric Bikes made in France to be sold in New York
Christophe Baeza (left) and Clement Bonneau (right), the founders of the electric bike business ThirtyOne31, September 10, 2015 in the Saint-Gaudens near Toulouse – REMY Gabalda AFP

“Nobody believed us, especially not the banks” ThirtyOne31, the electric bike “Made in France”, very nearly never saw the day. Yet the electric Vélib become leader, he moved to New York to represent “excellence”.

“Nobody believed us, especially not the banks’ ThirtyOne31, the electric bike” Made in France ” almost never saw the day.  Yet the electric Vélib become leader, he moved to New York to represent “excellence”.

The two bikes, carefully packed in bubble paper, waiting in their aircraft carton for the exhibition “Best of France”, which on the  26th  and 27th September in New York celebrates “the French know-how.”

For ThirtyOne31, representing their country along with over 150 exhibitors is a victory to their commitment and belief in the project.

“The first reaction was: you’re crazy,” recalls Christophe Baeza, a former insurer who “left everything behind to live (his) passion” cycling.  The dynamic 40 year old then met Clement Bonneau, now director of the company, who was already working at the time in the two-wheeler sector.

“When we started, we did not even have a garage. It was only our passion “he summarizes in reference to the founder of Apple whose legend they started their business in a garage.

They started the company together in April 2013 under the name “ThirtyOne31” (as the number of the Haute-Garonne department).

“We started to finance itself and we had the help of institutional agencies,”  the Regional Council, Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI) and Madeeli, the Agency of economic development, export and Innovation in Midi-Pyrenees.

They did not have to wait long to see success as in May of the same year, 31 became the first provider of electrical Vélib, set up in Vannes.  In February 2015, the young company is now elected favourite of Midi-Pyrenees.  And although they are still little, they were chosen to participate in the Best of France in New York, bringing together the best of the best of Made in France.

“We’re minnows but we will be among the great,” as L’Oreal, Thales or Axa, welcomed Mr Baeza.

The Company

With a turnover of 130,000 euros in 2014 and one employee (in addition to the two owners), “ThirtyOne31” is indeed a TPE (Very Small Business), a status which its leaders pride themselves.

“We are industrial artisans,” says Mr. Baeza in the former garage that the company occupies, in the small village of Valentine (Haute-Garonne), on the foothills of the Pyrenees.

The workshop of 1,500 m2 is still half empty and seems too big for the mini-company, but not for its ambitions. “We expected the place to ride in rhythm,” says Baeza. “It is now three bikes every two hours, but we can make up to 30,” he says.

Last year it made and sold over one hundred bicycles, and this tear they are looking at doubling that amount to ‘200-250 double this year and in 2016 “.

“ThirtyOne31” is well placed in the development of electric Vélib. “We should soon receive a orders from a dozen communities shortly” announced Mr. Baeza.

“The electric Vélib, is a growing market and in five years, almost all of Vélibs will be electric bikes.  At Vannes, our bicycles are rented three times more than non-electric, “he says.

Leaders do not regret their choice of French produce. “An assembly in France is much more expensive but it allows us to guarantee the quality,” says Clement Bonneau.

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