Branson family and Index Ventures lead $500k backing of cycle safety start-up

Blaze to begin selling innovative bike light following investment

A start-up that has developed a new bike light designed to stop drivers hitting cyclists has raised $500,000 seed backing, from a group of investors including Index Ventures and members of the Branson family.

Founded by Emily Brooke as part of her final year design project at the University of Brighton, Blaze has been developing a new electronic bike light, which projects an image of a bike on the road ahead of a cyclist to give drivers advance warning of their approach.

It claims ‘Laserlight’, which has been developed in conjunction with psychologists, helps to tackle the biggest cause of road death amongst cyclists – drivers turning into cyclists who are in their blind spot.

After graduating from university Brooke marked a successful campaign on crowdfunding website Kickstarter, raising £55,000 from 782 backers on the platform to put the product into production.

The business subsequently concluded a manufacture and supply deal with international supply chain specialist PCH International.

The current $500,000 investment was led by venture capital firm Index Ventures and Sam and Holly Branson, son and daughter of Virgin founder Richard Branson.

It will be used to help fund roll-out of Laserlight, which goes on sale today at a price of £125, as well as branch out into additional products such as bike security and helmets.

Holly and Sam Branson said in a statement: “’We invest in entrepreneurial activities to help make a difference in the world and Blaze are a brand using exciting technology to make the experience of urban cycling better.

“Blaze’s perspective on cycling comes from the cycle mad team being on bikes every day and recognising the areas of greatest need first hand.”

Saul Klein, partner at Index Ventures, added: “Blaze is a great example of what is possible today – where anyone can create a game changing product, sell that product at scale worldwide, and partner with some of the best specialist brands – and all with very little initial capital.

“Emily and her team used Kickstarter to raise initial funding and to prove that Blaze is solving a real problem. From there, they attracted mainstream support from Evans in retail and PCH for global distribution. That’s the kind of team we are thrilled to support.”

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