After gaining his banking qualifications, Jakob Luksch studied business administration and engineering and spent over 15 years working as a manager in the automotive industry, where he had an insight into the rapid growth of new technologies and the mobility models of the future and was also able to play an active part in shaping them. Jakob Luksch has been CEO at myStromer AG since January 2018. In an interview, Jakob Luksch answered exciting questions about Stromer and the topic of urban mobility.
You have now been CEO at myStromer AG for almost two years. What have your experiences been in this time and what lessons are you taking with you for the future?
At myStromer AG, I started with excellent conditions for a successful company: a strong brand, an extremely focused and coveted product, solid and reliable investors and a market showing strong growth.
From day one, I appreciated that we have very fast and short decision-making processes as a small company. We embody this in our management team every day, making it possible to react to the volatile market. The main topic for us was certainly the transfer of our bike assembly to Oberwangen. The path to today’s daily production of up to 60 bikes within a year was difficult and we never would have managed it without our highly motivated team. I truly appreciate this and will continue to focus on keeping the team happy with the right amount of support and challenges.
Starting at a new company in a leadership position is not always easy. Were you able to find your footing quickly at myStromer AG? What were the biggest challenges for you personally?
After some training in the dialect, the transition from Peter Althaus to me went smoothly. The bike sector is worlds away from the perfect processes and extreme demands on supply that I knew in the automotive industry. The level of the automotive and luxury goods industry remains my standard at myStromer AG, however. Initiating employees, suppliers and business partners in this without alienating them was and remains an art.
They say that a person who is new to a company recognizes certain areas of action more quickly than internal staff who are promoted to CEO, for example. Was that the case with you and in what departments did you see an urgent need for action?
As the saying goes, a new broom sweeps clean. But that effect wears off very quickly. After many strategic changes of direction, concentration and a thorough implementation were most important at myStromer AG. Since I have been there, this means: Developing and manufacturing the best S-Pedelecs for commuters. No bells and whistles like clothing, mountain bikes or other things.
In Stromer’s ten-year history, there have been many highlights and in isolated cases also setbacks. What do you consider the biggest highlight in Stromer history and what was the hardest setback that you experienced?
Our global reputation and the unique riding experience on the Stromer continue to be sensational. It inspires you every morning and evening during your commute. Without focusing on individual setbacks, I find it very difficult to watch when my employees are forced to put out fires instead of using their creativity to further the company due to a lack of systems or processes.
You were a manager in the automotive industry and have kept your focus on the topic of mobility. What parallels do you see between the automotive industry and Stromer? What experiences from the automotive industry did you bring to the table at Stromer?
There is no difference between the expectations that the end customer has on the premium product. In other words, our products must work like a BMW and spark emotions like a Porsche 911. From a business viewpoint, the strong dependency on the supply chain, the increasing variant management and the short development times are similar. We respond to this with close cooperation with the suppliers as early as the development phase, disciplined change management and comprehensive project management.
Urban mobility is a very important topic that is hotly debated in many fields. The scenarios forecast assume that conventional combustion engines will disappear and both e-mobility and autonomous driving will become enormously more significant. Where is the key to market success for Stromer in your opinion and are there discussions about developing new products that can be sold in this market?
Autonomous driving will have a big influence on mobility behavior. Individual mobility will then be possible for many more people as you no longer require a driver’s license. This means that there will likely be more traffic. We are not talking about the immediate future here; fully autonomous driving will not go into production in this decade. Until we get to that point, commuters will have to learn to accept traffic as it exists today.
Stromer is the only true alternative to make the daily commute an enriching experience, and it will remain so. This is due to the unique riding experience and the agility of our bikes. In future, we will continue to improve our bikes with a focus on commuting: anti-theft protection, active and passive safety and at some point independence from the weather.
Let’s focus on new products. In terms of pricing, Stromer is positioned in the upper range. Can you imagine developing e-bikes that are affordable to the broader masses in order to ensure greater sales and to further anchor the Stromer brand in the market?
We are very much at home in the niche of fast, dynamic commuter bikes, and our customers are too. Like Porsche, for example, we have customers who are passionate about riding dynamics, design, quality and an unbelievable loyalty to the brand. We wish to continue to concentrate on these customers and this market in future. We not only know them the best, but they also share our personal passion.
There are many theories and scenarios regarding the future of urban mobility. Let’s look in our crystal ball. Where do you envision urban mobility in ten years and what role will Stromer play in it?
In 2029 people will still not be capable of beaming. Despite new forms of employment and potentially different types of recreational activities, we will remain mobile and have to confront the challenges of traffic jams and overcrowded public transportation. In this situation, as is the case today, Stromer will be the smart alternative for active people who do not consider commuting to be an annoying waste of time, but instead see it as an opportunity for mental enrichment on the way to or from work.
Finally, if you had three wishes for the future of Stromer, what would you wish for?
More customers that are so excited about our product. Always beautiful weather, since that is when riding your Stromer is most fun. And very, very important: Legislators in all of our markets who understand the benefits of fast e-bikes and promote them accordingly.