The concept behind UBCO was germinated in early 2014 in New Zealand. Daryl Neal and Anthony Clyde saw a gap in the market for a new category of product after spending 10 years in the electric bike industry. The concept was a 2 wheel drive electric, lightweight, utility vehicle. The pair pulled their manufacturing network together and created the first prototype of what would become the 2×2. This raw first prototype weighed in at 40kgs and created a real impression at the largest agricultural tradeshow in the southern hemisphere, The National Agricultural Fieldays.
In April 2015 the three founders then decided to form UBCO and move the project into a commercial mode. The company was formed with a long-term capital plan in mind. Setting their sights on launching a pre-production version of the product at the 2015 Fieldays. After another strong response from users and media, and pre-orders in hand the next task was to raise sufficient private capital to underwrite the first production run.
After cornerstone investors, the Andrews, were found the team moved into a more formal mode. Experienced energy sector executive Deion Campbell was appointed as Independent Chair to help create the required governance structure from the outset.
The company’s initial focus of Australasia was disrupted when the media coverage generated during Fieldays went global through Uncrate (a gear curation site for men) resulting in a huge influx of enquiries. This resulted in the change in strategy and focus to investigate the United States market more rapidly.
With production inward bound and the fledgling company preparing for its first market launch in New Zealand it was time for the next step in their capital plan. Working with the largest Angel Investment group in New Zealand, Enterprise Angels the investment opportunity was presented to a syndicate of eligible investors.
Through this Series A investment Timothy Allan was appointed as the CEO and the company began to establish itself as an operational entity, creating the base business systems and staff across all key functions.
The company was focused on getting the 2×2 out of the workshop and lab and into the hands of real people using the vehicles. With New Zealand’s notoriously hard users and environment the company was able to learn a lot about the key customer benefits, strengths, and weaknesses. Most of the initial fleet went into 365 day a year, off road, high duty uses in agriculture, tourism, and conservation.
The team stayed close to its customers and built a general dealer network across New Zealand to serve the business. This helped to create an effective model for customer service.
UBCO had been actively visiting and investigating the US market when it was contacted by Technology Entrepreneur Bob Ralston. Bob had successfully built Feeney Wireless, an IoT company, with his son Ethan Ralston and sold it to Novotel Wireless in 2015.
Bob had been actively researching electric vehicles. Growing up with the Honda Trail 90, the 2×2 aligned perfectly with where Bob saw the market opportunity. His passion was clear and a relationship quickly developed with CEO Timothy Allan presenting to a tight group of like-minded investors including Spring Capital in Eugene, Oregon.
The investment opportunity was consolidated over the next 5 months with a dedicated distribution company established in Eugene. Ethan Ralston was appointed as President and CEO and Bob Ralston joined the UBCO Board of Directors.