Innovation & Insights Organizational

Lessons from the Cardboard Bicycle

Sam Frentzel-Beyme Follow Managing Partner & Strategy Director

The Short of It

  • Izhar Gafni created the first fully-functional cardboard bike for about $9 in materials cost.
  • Talking to experts allowed him to know whether he was working on a real problem or trying to solving something that’s already been done.
  • Ignoring the experts and just getting the first version done allowed him to effectively challenge assumptions and build something unique.

Having bought and sold a number of bicycles over the last couple of years, I always wondered why there wasn’t a $100 bicycle. Part of the reason was that anyone looking to do a bicycle at that price was stuck with the thinking that comes along with bicycles that cost much more than that.

Enter confessed lover of bikes Izhar Gafni.

He’s created the first fully-functional cardboard bike for about $9 in materials cost. Factoring in labor costs, the two-wheeled wonder will go for around $60 or $90 with an electric motor. And it looks like he’s found some backing, so we can look forward to these in 2013.

Here a video by Giora Kariv of Gafni putting it all together.

Izhar cardboard bike project from Giora Kariv on Vimeo.

Here are three things we can learn from Gafni's venture. 

1. Start by talking to the experts. 

It’s easy to have “great” ideas when they aren’t in your field. Talking to experts will let you know whether you're working on a real problem or trying to solving something that’s already been done.

2. Ignore the experts. 

You’d think we’d be able to skip right to step two. But it’s only by going through step one that you get insight into the nature of the problem and the existing paradigm through which it’s being viewed.

3. Simply get the first one done. 

In the video you can see the difference between Gafni’s first try and final product. Startups often call this the MVP (minimum viable product) and it’s the first iteration that is created just to prove the concept. Once that works, it’s just a matter of iterations before you get it right.

Fast Company has a longer article here. There are also articles on Green Prophet and No Camels (interesting note on their name).

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