“It’s absolutely shimmering in here”
Sipping at their half-full mugs of coffee, the three young women sit in the spacious, glassy kitchen of the SpinLab, an accelerator space situated in Hall 14 of the Spinnerei-Area in Leipzig. On the large wooden table in front of them lies a short black piece of rope. Hold on, rope? No, the sturdy piece of fabric is an innovative bike lock made of textile, which the three women, waiting for the interview sipping coffee, invented by themselves. Their slogan: light, lovely and save. Not the first three words that cross your mind thinking of bike locks. With tex-lock business executive Alexandra Baum, developer Suse Brand and saleswoman Katja Käseberg we talk about their invention, work at the SpinLab and the reasons why they would not base their business in another city than Leipzig. Finally, we even get to know why the dutch royal couple is fond of their textile bike lock already. Another gulp of coffee and off we go.
What exactly did you invent with tex-lock?
Suse: We invented a textile bike lock consisting of high-end fibre and resistant to all possible attacks. May it be a bolt clipper, fire or different sorts of cutting tools. It’s about as save as a steel chain but much lighter and more flexible. So, we did not invent a new material but combined the most different fibres from the industry in a special construction, a multi-layer composition. We have been working on that for more than two years and applied for a patent by now.
How did this idea evolve? Have your bikes already been stolen once?
Alexandra: No, fortunately not. Suse and I are product designers by trade. After 13 years in the branch of product development the point arrives on which you ask yourself: I’m developing lovely things for others but isn’t it possible to create a product on my own? Besides, in Leipzig I go by bike very often – I do not own a car – and therefore need to lock it often. As a result, the idea arose that there must be the possibility to create a lighter lock consisting of textile. That’s how the idea run its course and since last August we exclusively focus on tex-lock and do not run other project anymore.
How did you get to the SpinLab and what does your work look like in here?
Suse: We heard of it and applied in the regular way.
Alexandra: From hindsight it was the right decision in every aspect. We experienced an intense half year with a lot of important input, from other startups as much as from the SpinLab itself, for instance by presentations and workshops.
Suse: We absolutely got into the world of startups and benefit from the lively exchange of experiences here. No matter which topic or problem your startup is concerned with – the problems, tasks and challenges are always the same and there always is someone who was in your situation and will be able to help.
How much longer are you going to stay at SpinLab and where is it going after that?
Suse: Until the end of March we will be still here. After that most likely we will move a few rooms further to the SpinOffice. Some Startups before us affirmed that they would like to stay after that half year and as it happened there were some free rooms left in the Spinnerei, so it resulted in more office space for alumni. Of course with the condition to pay a regular rent but with the advantage of the network and the infrastructure that we can still use.
What are your goals for this year? The lock isn’t on the market yet..
Katja: Until the 15th of March we run a crowdfunding campaign. The 50’000€ we targeted were collected in less than 48 hours. This meant a huge success to us. As a result, we definitely are able to produce the first locks this year, which will be distributed in an onlineshop first and then in the retail market.
You’ve got one more wish left for tex-lock…
Katja: In that case we’d definitely wish that tex-lock is a brand everybody knows and that we can delight the people who always believed in us by the successful growth of our business.
You established tex-lock in Leipzig. A conscious choice?
Alexandra: Oh yes, absolutely! There is a positive spirit of optimism in Leipzig – it’s absolutely shimmering in here. Leipzig provides very special networks where you can meet with creative- as well as businesspeople in a nice way. It’s noticeable that people feel happy with their work or private life – or in the ideal case with both.
Suse: The quality of living is the crucial argument. Leipzig is a comfortable, small big city with a lot of greenery, subculture and upswing. In an economic sense too. There are a lot of things happening here and I feel the city is evolving with me.
We heard the Dutch King Willem-Alexander already owns a tex-lock lock?
Alexandra: Yes, in early February the royal couple visited Leipzig and the Spinnerei as well as the SpinLab. We were allowed to present them what we do and handed them one of our locks. Apparently, the three princesses ride their bikes to school every day. For sure it will be in use there.
To finance the market launch the young startup launches a campaign via Crowdfunding. You find more information here.