Thanks to more environmentally conscious buyers, dropping costs and improving infrastructure, more and more Americans are interested in driving electric vehicles every day. But motorcycles represent a tricky demographic for EVs because they’re already less expensive than cars, more fuel-efficient and often more desirable for enthusiasts who care about feel and performance. Cleveland startup LAND, however, believes they have the perfect formula to capitalize on the emerging EV market with electric motorcycles built right here in Ohio.
“At LAND, we build U.S.-made e-motos, and they’re all powered by a battery system that we’ve created here in-house,” said CEO Scott Colosimo. “We focus on electric vehicles that offer more value. There are a lot of electric vehicles that bring a lot of compromise, and that’s what we didn’t want. We wanted all of the benefits without any compromise. So by keeping the vehicles smaller, lightweight and really focused on the 0-60 speed, stoplight to stoplight, country roads and dense cities, we were able to create a product that offers a lot of benefit. And it’s software defined, which means the vehicle can be a bicycle, a moped or a motorcycle without changing any hard parts.”
Because of their innovative nature and electric motors, it’s easy to assume that LAND’s foundations come from outside the world of typical motorcycles. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Colosimo has been in motorcycle engineering for years, and previously started a traditional motorcycle manufacturer called Cleveland Cycle Works back in 2009. He and his team come from a true engineering background, and they’re focused on creating a bike that doesn’t just change the paradigm, but gives riders a great experience.
“Most everybody here rides or is an enthusiast,” he said. “So we’re not like tech bros coming into a new industry. We’re not computer dudes trying to make products for a market that we don’t understand. I’ve been riding my whole life, grew up riding, and when I say ‘more benefit’ that’s really what we were out to get.”
So who are LAND’s target riders? Anyone from existing enthusiasts to first-time riders. LAND’s bikes don’t have a clutch, come in at an affordable price point and are well-balanced for a new rider. That means people who have never driven a motorcycle before represent a major portion of their users. But the bike’s performance and flexibility make it ideal for seasoned riders as well. And for Colosimo and his team, the idea is to build a bike that can be enjoyed by any of the above.
“A lot of motorcycle riders look at motorcycles like tools,” he said. “Like I have my adventure bike and I have my street bike and I have my ‘hop around town’ bike. That’s what we found has really helped us hit our stride — bringing new people in that have always wanted a ride. They’re curious about motorcycles, but they’ve never identified with anything that they felt comfortable enough to get on. But it’s also a product with proper rake, trail, nimble geometry, really nice suspension and supple sag. We’ve been able to bridge to the experienced riders just because it is such a serious product.”
But to be successful, LAND has to do more than create a great product — they have to demonstrate that they can be profitable along the way. And that’s where the company has excelled. They recently announced the close of a Series A funding round that exceeded expectations by more than $1 million, and is launching a $15 million convertible note to further fuel growth. They’re in the process of renovating their 30,000-square-foot space in Cleveland and looking to demonstrate that they can scale their work.
“We did in $5 million what it took a lot of our competitors $50 to $100 million to do,” Colosimo said. “We’ve built our product expertise so we didn’t have to farm it out or hire it out. We were able to create a lot in the house and even manufacture motorcycles for so long that this comes natural to us. Because we’re users, we understand the market. So there’s a lot that we had going for us where we didn’t have to trust somebody else with our baby. We were able to get up to speed. So that’s a huge positive.”
As they seek that growth, they’ll be sticking around Cleveland, whose “The Land” nickname is the reason for LAND’s name. For Colosimo and the team, building on Cleveland and Ohio’s history as quality manufacturers is important, and a tradition that they hope they can lead into the future.
“The identity is quite important because this is a unique region where people still make things to make their living,” he said. “From Cleveland down to Columbus, it’s been the supply base for the automotive industry since the inception of the automobile. This manufacturing knowledge and supply base has always been here. So what we’re trying to do is marry that old school manufacturing with this whole new breed of coders, firmwares, developers, front- and back-end full stack. We’ve got this whole suite of really able-bodied smart people in Cleveland that are able to do everything from the manufacturing, to the tech. We’ve got almost everything covered for making a really globally dominant, competitive product right here in Cleveland.”