Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on December 20th, 2013 at 4:43 pm
Portland-based company Conscious Commuter has run out of money, ceased operations on December 16th, and is “in the process of winding up its affairs”. That news comes via an email sent to supporters by Gabriel Wartofsky, the company’s head designer and co-founder.
Conscious Commuter launched in June 2011 with plans to mass-produce a foldable electric bike in Portland. The concept was the marriage of Wartofsky’s design skills mixed with the entrepreneurial and business background of company President and CEO Bob Vander Woude. The company had been headquartered at One World Trade Center in downtown Portland.
“While it’s a shame that we can’t continue as a company, we hope you can at least take pride in knowing that you’ve helped us make epic strides in supporting local manufacturing, and changing the way we view commuting as a society.”
— Gabriel Wartofsky, in an email to supporters
In September 2012 we reported on the successful completion of their first batch of frames, which were manufactured in Portland by Zen Bicycle Fabrication.
One of the first big orders for these bikes came from Drive Oregon, a nonprofit public-private partnership funded in part by State Lottery funds. As late as April of this year, they had planned to use Conscious Commuter’s bikes in a program that would deploy the bikes and then monitor their use to research their potential as a transportation option.
We began hearing rumors several months ago that Conscious Commuter was having trouble delivering a final product. Now we know those rumors were true.
A BikePortland reader who had donated to Conscious Commuter’s successful, $25,000 Kickstarter campaign (in September 2011) forwarded us an email from Wartofsky explaining the “financial issues” that have forced them to cease operations.
Here’s the text of that email:
You are receiving this letter because you made a support donation to Conscious Commuter on Kickstarter. Please be advised that Conscious Commuter has run out of cash, ceased operations on December 16, 2013 and is in the process of winding up its affairs.
We appreciate your support of Conscious Commuter. We wish we had been able to raise the additional funds needed to continue what we believed was a very promising business- but after two and a half years filled with momentous achievements and challenges, financial issues have forced us to close our doors.
Please know that your support and donation led us on a successful trailblazing journey that has planted the seed of sustainable mobility in a vast range of communities. Since 2011, Conscious Commuter has made a significant impact on communities ranging from small neighborhoods, small businesses, world class corporations, universities, entire states and the US government as a whole. President Obama even recognized our efforts in supporting small local businesses. We’ve accrued countless design awards, international press, received acclaim from fellow ‘competitors’ and have inspired the next generation of home-grown and international e-bike companies, as well as have been considered though leaders in the mobility mega-trend.
As social impact supporters, your donation has helped change the way people think about mobility for the better. While we wish we could have fulfilled our dream of becoming a sustainable business, our achievements to date have paved the way for others fighting for a cleaner future. In the big picture sense, we’ve succeeded in helping improve our future by validating that consumers want to change the way they commute for the better. While it’s a shame that we can’t continue as a company, we hope you can at least take pride in knowing that you’ve helped us make epic strides in supporting local manufacturing, and changing the way we view commuting as a society.
We wish you a happy holiday season, and thank you for all you’ve done to help realize our dream.
Vander Woude, the company’s CEO, couldn’t be reached for comment. His email is on an auto-responder that says, “I am taking personal time off through the Christmas holidays.”