Start-Up Stars

The ‘green-tech’ way to keep cool on a bike

Two Israelis have developed an environmentally sensitive — and sensible — way to keep cool while riding a bike

A new device by two Israeli entrepreneurs lets bikers stay cool in the hot summer sun in the most environmentally aware manner possible – with just a little water. The environmentally conscious Q-Fog, described by inventors Arik Bar-Erez and Kobi Rein as “the world’s first spray device for cyclists,” is an example of “green tech” that could take off.

For that to happen, though, the two need money – which has been in short supply so far. The problem? Israeli investors apparently prefer “high-tech” over “green tech,” said Bar-Erez. “We shopped the idea around to investors here in Israel, but all the angels we met with – a substantial number – want to put their money into high-tech ventures only.”

It’s a shame, because Q-Fog is one of those little items that, mass produced, could probably bring in some serious cash, both for the partners who came up with it, and for participating investors. The fact that Q-Fog has a green aspect to it – it’s an invention to help keep bike riders cool on hot summer days – hasn’t impressed investors either, although, Bar-Erez told the Times of Israel, “the Chief Scientist, Avi Hasson, told me that he thought it was a great idea. But because it’s not high-tech, he said there was nothing he could do to help.”

The Q-Fog is essentially a portable mist sprayer for bicyclists. The device sits securely on the handlebars, below which sits a plastic bottle holding water. On hot days, a bike rider can cool off by pressing a button on the Q-fog. The device releases a pre-measured blast of water, dissipating it on the torso of the biker – cooling him or her off as the air rushes past the rider.

The patented Q-Fog is made of ABS plastic and can be adjusted in any direction, 360 degrees around. Riders can get the desired effect by using a finger or thumb as they ride, and each water container is good for 2-3 hours, or at least several hundred sprays, said Bar-Erez. “On a hot day especially, a rider is going to want to rest for at least a few minutes, and that’s a good time to refill.” And, in a pinch, riders can also drink the Q-Fog water.

“Last year we went to an outdoor sports show in Germany and presented the invention, and we got a lot of good interest from various companies,” said Bar-Erez. “But they wanted a sample they could take back to their people to evaluate – and we didn’t have the samples, because we need money to produce them. Paradoxically, we can’t raise money until we produce them.”

Bar-Erez said that he and Rein need about $70,000 to move forward with the project, and that, at this point, they don’t see doing so in Israel. So, they’ve decided to give the average Joe an opportunity to own a piece of Q-Fog – via crowdsourced fundraising site Indiegogo. With the money, the two can complete final touches on the product and get it into production – which will probably be done in China, although Bar-Erez sees doing everything else, including assembly, sales, and shipping, from Israel. Crowdsourced fundraising, where investors “contribute” money to a project (sites like Indiegogo are not allowed to solicit funds as investments), gives a high-tech fundraising twist to this modern, functional, and green – but definitely not high-tech – invention, said Bar-Erez.

So far, they haven’t raised that much, but the device has gotten a lot of press – in Russia, Germany, South Africa, Japan, the US, and Israel, among other places. Bar-Erez hopes that the publicity will inspire some deep-pocket investors who aren’t hung up on “high-tech only” to give Q-Fog its shot at fame and fortune. “We know there’s a lot interest in this product,” said Bar-Erez. “All we need is the money to make some of them and start selling.”

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