The first product that Body Rocket has produced is aimed at triathletes and cyclists who compete in road races or time trials. We spoke to Eric DeGolier, the founder of Body Rocket, ‘Reducing aerodynamic drag is the single biggest factor if you want to reach the finish line faster. Yet, currently the only way for cyclists to get an accurate assessment of their aerodynamics is to travel to a wind tunnel or velodrome for an aero coaching session. This is expensive and time-consuming, and it only provides a snapshot.’
Body Rocket have ‘shrunk down’ wind tunnel technology and directly integrated sensors into a stem, handlebars and pedals, so cyclists can get accurate, real-time data on their aerodynamics on every ride.
In order to set up Body Rocket, Eric left his role as Head of Innovation at an impact protection company, D30, two years ago. Initially, it was challenging for him to find capable people for the broad range of skill sets needed to develop their system, but they’ve built a brilliant team of 5 with expertise spanning from mechanical and electronic engineering, to software and machine learning.
Eric comments, ‘Raising capital is a challenge for any start-up, but we’ve been fortunate to have attracted angel investment early on from some veterans in the cycling industry. We’ve also won funding from the Space Research and Innovation Network for Technology (SPRINT), which has enabled us to validate our technology at the University of Southampton’s wind tunnel facility.’
Body Rocket are currently running an equity crowdfunding campaign through Crowdcube to fund their journey to launch in 2021. So far, they have raised over £90,000 within the first 24 hours and the campaign is bringing them to the attention of cyclists all over the world.
Images taken by Ian G.C. White - https://www.iangcwhite.com/
Aerodynamics in sports is tricky because the person’s body is nearly always the largest part of the system’s aerodynamics. Eric comments, ‘That’s a really tough design challenge because every body has to be “designed” individually and even then we move around during the course of a ride.
So traditional tools like computational fluid dynamics and wind tunnels are of limited use. We knew the correct solution needed to continuously gather data so we could take a big data approach to analysing it. Figuring out how to do that was our first and biggest challenge.’
Being part of our Entrepreneur Program, Body Rocket have been using SOLIDWORKS for the last year to design and validate their sensors using Simulation, as well as rapid prototyping cases and fixtures for their product development.
‘Prototyping is expensive and time consuming, so on our limited budget being able to get it right on the first round of prototypes is important. Then, on the flip side, there’s a lot of soft factors in our R&D.
We make a prototype that works for us in the lab but then has fit issues with a different rider because of how they fit on the bike, or we need a new adapter to fit a specific bike brand.
Pairing SOLIDWORKS with a range of rapid prototyping technologies helps us quickly adapt to anything that comes up during the process’, says Eric.
Eric comments, ‘I got my first job as an engineer in 2002 and I’ve used SOLIDWORKS at every job since. As a cash-strapped start-up we were being forced to look at cheaper alternatives, hoping to make the switch later. The Entrepreneur Program gave us the opportunity to go with our first choice right from the start.’
Eric continues, ‘When we finally started the company it was a mix of outsourcing the CAD work to contractors and relying on suppliers. This was clearly costing more in communication delays and mistakes than it was saving, so we knew we needed to bring the CAD in-house as quickly as possible.
We can now design quickly with minimal mistakes, there are no delays when we need to simulate a new design, and we now have a complete design history of our products.’
‘I don’t think we could have ever achieved what we have without bringing SOLIDWORKS in house’, says Eric. He continues, ‘Having the support from Solid Solutions has been a great part of that. As a company owner, I spend less and less time doing CAD myself and being able to rely on support to help our engineers when they have issues has been invaluable.’
‘I have been a Solid Solutions customer on and off since 2011, when I started running the design team at D3O which, at the time, was another startup. The support from Mark, and the rest of the Solid Solutions team, has always been great and was definitely part of why I was keen to work with them again at Body Rocket.’
Their equity crowdfunding campaign allows everyday investors, investment professionals and venture capitalists to own a share of their business by investing as little as £16 (or as much as £80,000).
You can find out more about Body Rocket’s crowdfunding campaign here - it’s open until April 16th.
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