Interview with the Executive team at FrontLanePublished Date: 2/3/2020
The interview was conducted with Roland Hence, CEO, Jack Begaj, CFO and Renald Cuko, COO.
Roland is a native of Cambridge, MA, and a Stanford graduate. From a young age, Roland has always displayed a love of building; from LEGOs to Arduino to 3D printing and custom PCBs, the mediums may have changed, but the desire to create has always been unwavering. His technical knowledge and passion for innovation formed the core of FrontLane. Roland is driven by the desire to create products that will have a profound, positive impact on the world around him
Jack was born in Albania and spent the majority of his childhood in Beverly, MA. He is a Magna Cum Laude graduate in Finance from Bentley University who has accumulated a diverse skill set from working in three countries. As an early employee at Circle, an internet finance startup, Jack scaled the company’s finance, treasury, and recruiting capabilities. Prior to that, he was an analyst at Boston-based Investment Bank, Falvey Partners, working on capital raises and M&A for SMB tech companies worldwide.
Similar to Jack, Renald was born in Albania and grew up in Beverly, MA. While studying Economics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Renald discovered his love for entrepreneurship. This passion combined with his interest and study of economics has guided his work at a Boston venture capital firm.
Vishal Sapru (VS), Principal Consultant, Cognitio Research Inc. had an opportunity to conduct a Movers & Shakers interview with the executive team at FrontLane (FrontLane Executive).
VS: Can you provide a brief overview of FrontLane including the vision behind its formation and its current role in the market?
FrontLane Executive: Founded in 2015, FrontLane is an automotive technology company dedicated to making the road a better place for drivers, passengers, and the public. Braking Bar, launched Summer 2019, is FrontLane's first product in a line of patent pending technologies that are on track to come to market over the course of the next 12 months. The unique combination of passions for driving and technology forge the vision of FrontLane - a company dedicated to exploring the limitless potential of the roads of tomorrow.
FrontLane’s core mission is to bring the latest in safety innovation to all cars regardless of their make, model, or price; car safety should not be exclusively for those who can afford it. Braking Bar embodies that ideal by enabling any driver to make their car safer from rear-end collisions in seconds with our sleek, affordable, wire-free, and user-installable solution.
Braking Bar is an Emergency Brake Light—a standard technology in the luxury car market. When a driver brakes rapidly, Braking Bar pulses ultra-bright auxiliary LEDs to alert the following driver to the sudden stop. Research by FrontLane, Mercedes and the NHTSA have shown that this technology gets the attention of the driver behind 50% quicker thus greatly reducing the likelihood of being rear-ended.
Braking Bar is the result of over three years of R&D and leverages studies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) and Mercedes-Benz. There were years of extensive development and refinement, but we always held to one simple goal: make cars safer.
Throughout this process we have diligently listened to drivers, and have worked with an international team of Stanford engineers, product designers, and manufacturing specialists to craft Braking Bar — a beautiful product we are truly proud of.
VS: Please, describe your product for our readers? What is its unique functionality and how different is it from what is already available in the market?
FrontLane Executive: Braking Bar is the world’s first and only completely wireless, battery-powered, emergency brake light. With its built-in battery and motion sensor, Braking Bar doesn’t have any physical connection to your braking system. With its strong adhesive, Braking Bar secures to any window in seconds: no wires, no screws, no charging. As you drive, the built-in motion sensor checks your braking force over 100 times per second and will activate powerful LEDs when braking hard. Braking Bar is three times brighter than your ordinary brake lights and makes following drivers react up to 50% faster. Pulsing brake lights are made by countless companies on Amazon. These devices either require a mechanic for installation (for about $500) or extensive electro-mechanical knowledge (the vehicle’s paneling must be removed). Even when installed, these devices do not respond to variations in braking force, rendering them ineffective as Emergency Brake Lights. Braking Bar is the only solution that you can stick on in seconds that greatly increases the safety of your vehicle.
VS: What are some of the likely challenges FrontLane is expecting to face and what strategy do you have in place to overcome it?
FrontLane Executive: Product education is paramount to the success and adoption of Braking Bar. As a disruptive technology in an industry that has not seen innovation since 1974, since the invention of the third brake light, it is crucial that we increase the awareness of safety solutions available to the driver.
Strategic partnerships, marketing campaigns, and media coverage designed to educate drivers about risks on the road, such as the fact that hard braking causes a crash every three minutes, will be key in establishing Braking Bar as a part of the solution to keeping the roads safe.
VS: What is the unique value proposition of your product and its key competitive?
FrontLane Executive: Braking Bar is the world’s first and only completely wireless, battery-powered, emergency brake light. With its built-in battery and motion sensor, Braking Bar doesn’t have any physical connection to your braking system. With its strong adhesive, Braking Bar secures to any window in seconds: no wires, no screws, no charging. As you drive, the built-in motion sensor checks your braking force over 100 times per second and will activate powerful LEDs when braking hard. Braking Bar is three times as bright as ordinary brake lights and makes drivers react up to 50% faster.
Pulsing brake lights are made by countless companies on Amazon. These devices either require a mechanic for installation (for about $500) or extensive electro-mechanical knowledge (the vehicle’s paneling must be removed). Even when installed, these devices do not respond to variations in braking force, rendering them ineffective as Emergency Brake Lights. Braking Bar is the only solution that you can stick on in seconds that greatly increases the safety of your vehicle.
VS: What is your strategy for offering best value to customers for the price, compared to similar offerings from competitors? if any?
FrontLane Executive: Braking Bar is the only solution that can be installed by all drivers, regardless of tech, to any vehicle with a standard back windshield in seconds to instantly make your car safer. Unlike our competitors, Braking Bar does not hardwire into the vehicle and has no physical connection to the brake line; it only activates on hard braking so it’s never annoying and always welcome.
VS: Continued innovation is the key to success for any company. How is the process of innovation managed at Braking Bar?
FrontLane Executive: FrontLane. is built on the principles of open communication and working on the leading edge of information. This is especially true regarding our relationship with our customers. We really believe that if we listen to our customers, we will always be on the leading edge of innovation as we will consistently be addressing their pain points and needs.
VS: What do you want the company to accomplish in next 2 to 3 years and how will you define success for Braking Bar?
FrontLane Executive: Braking Bar is a product that has life-saving potential; the more cars that have Braking Bar, the safer the roads become. Our mission is to make the roads safer and to bring the latest in vehicle safety technology to every car regardless of make, model, or price. Safety should not be exclusively for those who can afford it, and as such we are working diligently to make these safety products accessible to as many people as possible.
We are working on various form factors for the core of Braking Bars technology and are looking forward to expanding our product offerings to include even more commercial and passenger safety solutions.
VS: Could you elaborate on the acceptance or adoption of your product in the marketplace and are there any client testimonials that can be shared with us? Also, do you foresee the acceptance of your product to have influence (trend setter) on the overall direction of the Market?
FrontLane Executive: Braking Bar has been incredibly well received by our customers, partners, and media. It was featured as one of the top products of CES on ABC World News Now ( https://abcn.ws/36b6lyw ) and has been called, “This week’s startup standout” by BusinessWire. It’s been reviewed by industry bloggers like Chris from Chris on Cars ( https://chrisoncars.com/braking-bar/ ) who have described Braking Bar as, “an ingenious
and elegant solution.”
Testimonials from our customers have also been very positive highlighting Braking Bar’s ease of installation and added feeling of security:
- “I’m really happy with my purchase. It arrived promptly after ordering it and I was pleasantly surprised with its light and sleek design. Instructions were easy to follow making it a hassle-free installation.”
- “With everyone constantly driving while looking at their phones , I am glad I made this investment.. I feel safer with the Braking Bar in my car!”
- “Braking Bar definitely adds on the feeling of security, especially driving around with a little baby in the city in the hectic morning commute. Super easy to install and sleek design, and no wires! Really worth the money!”
- “With everyone texting and using their phones while driving, I want to make sure everyone can see me. Braking Bar is an easy solution to a big problem.”
Additional product testimonials by customers can be found on our website (https://www.brakingbar.com/testimonials/ )
Brake light technology has not seen any upgrades in over 40 years; we believe Braking Bar is perfectly positioned to be this upgrade. The technology upon which Braking Bar is built has been studied and verified for over 20 years and is proven to be much more effective than existing solutions. Given the effectiveness of Adaptive Brake Light technology to greatly reduce rear-end collisions, and Braking Bar’s ease of installation, universal compatibility, and mass-market pricing, we are positioned to disrupt the industry and lead the way to safer roads.
VS: Are there any unique features of your product that address unmet customer needs and competitors are unable to replicate and replace?
FrontLane Executive: Braking Bar is the only stick-on solution that can be installed to any vehicle with a standard back windshield in seconds and has a 4-year battery life for the average driver. The hardware design which makes it universally compatible for any standard vehicle and the software that sets the hard-braking threshold is patent-pending.
VS: There are vendors in the market with complementing or similar products. How do you compare yourself with such competitors in regards to offering Best-in-Class solution?
FrontLane Executive: At FrontLane we strive to develop simple solutions to big problems. Much like with Braking Bar, we aim to create premium products that are cost-effective and bring a disproportionate amount of value to our customers. We don’t want there to be a big barrier to safety so all of our products are created with the end user in mind both from a design and a pricing standpoint.
VS: What are your marketing and product positioning strategies? Do you plan to form any strategic alliances and/or partnerships? How do you plan to build and strengthening the brand equity of your offering?
FrontLane Executive:Our marketing and product positioning strategies are currently focused around increasing awareness and getting Braking Bar in front of groups that would immediately benefit from it. This means partnering with school districts for their busses and vans, fleet companies, and driving schools. By partnering with groups whose goals align with ours, we can quickly and efficiently bring value to our partners and most importantly the end user.
VS: What kind of customer feedback mechanism do you have in place to ensure that the product development and innovation matches market and customer needs?
FrontLane Executive: We are always questioning every part of our process looking for new ways to increase efficiency and bring more value to our customers. We routinely communicate with our customers and vendor partners to hear their feedback on our offerings. We also closely monitor market trends and conduct extensive surveys to fill in any blanks in our knowledge. By regularly communicating with our users and partners we are able to stay on top of emerging trends and can identify consumer needs very quickly and cost-effectively.
VS: As a general conclusion, what do you think the future holds for your product and Company?
FrontLane Executive: Braking Bar is in a strong position to disrupt the market and to have a meaningful impact on the future of automotive safety; it is a simple solution to a big problem. As we transition to a future of autonomous vehicles, automotive safety will be on the forefront of the discussion. The transitory period will present a big opportunity for FrontLane to continue to work with our partners and customers to ensure that the transition is as seamless as possible and to continue to develop safety products that bring all vehicles, regardless of year, into the future.