Business of the Week
- Who are Knog?
Knog are a consumer products brand inventing urban-flavoured tech for the road, trail and outdoors.
- How and when did Knog start?
Knog was born in 2003 but was born from a design firm called Catalyst which was founded in the mid 90s. So our heritage is design. Mobile phones, bullet proof vests, medical equipment, Champagne packaging and so on! Since we started Knog, we’ve re-invented bike lights, bike locks and most recently the humble bell. And we haven’t finished. Our next frontier is outdoor. Since a lot of our customers love the great outdoors, it makes sense to provide products that can straddle both. Hence our new PWR range.
- Whats the meaning of the name Knog?
It’s actually a reference to “use your noggin”. Everything we do starts with inspiration from upstairs. And we don’t mean a god. Something much more powerful – an idea.
- Who are the people behind Knog what are their roles?
The founders are Hugo Davidson (CEO) and Mal McKechnie (COO). Hugo leads the Design and Sales teams. Mal leads the Engineering and Production. CFO is Andrew Hedding and Head of Marketing is Sam Moore. The turnover of the team is remarkably low. hris Bilanenko (Ind Des), Tim Besley (Ind Des), Leah Hughes (sales), Sean Wilkinson (online mkt), David Edwards (Electronic eng), John Zhang (production) and Virginia Francis (finance) have all been with Knog for the better part of a decade. The rest of the permanent team: Nick Bebbington, Madeline Ward, Michael Westwood, Anton van Maanen, Meesha Williams, John Zhang, Eli Thurrowgood, Justin Wong and Terry Tao.
- What makes your brand what it is?
Our difference is our design philosophy. “Unboring Things” is a description but also a call to action – we seek out what’s boring in the world because in making things interesting, you invariably make it more pleasurable. We’re a hedonistic bunch so pleasure – whether it be in your activities or just in the products you own (of course those things are linked) – is important to us.
- There’s a lot of time and effort that goes into building a successful brand, can you give some tips on how you got to where you are?
We have been able to tap into the Zeitgeist – and to some extent shape trends – with our designs. In the fixi era of the naughties, our silicone lights and locks were wanted and needed. Now, with more sophisticated bike market and the growth of bike-packing and ever-overlapping bike and outdoor categories, our multi-function products are key. But really, what sits above all this is the style and its relationship to function. The Oi bell looks unique, but that form is intrinsic in its function. The PWR range has a universal battery, so the beautifully sleek form relates to that too.
- What has been some of your more successful products?
The Frog light launched us.
The Blinder lights cemented us.
The Oi bell was the most successful – we launched through Kickstarter and made a real splash. And the PWR range is a new chapter.
- What are your team’s interests outside of cycling?
You don’t wanna know .)
- What bikes do your team members have in their garage?
All sorts. Canyon. Soma. Cannondale. Sakae Litage. But who cares – it’s about getting on a bike.
- What were some of the major challenges in getting Knog to where it is now?
The biggest challenges for any product brand are almost always production. We had a fault that nearly floored us – our straps on our Blinder 4 product broke. However, we responded by not only a very easy and quick warranty process, but we updated the design to the Blinder MOB, which now has a near-zero warranty rate.
- Where does the future lie for Knog?
We’re heading into Outdoor products, but not at the expense of our bike heritage. Our focus remains on inventing great bike products. But we are expanding into – and applying our unboring thinking to – the outdoor market. Camping, running, snow sports. They are all on the hitlist.
- Where are your major markets?
UK, USA, Australia, Germany, France, Japan, Switzerland
- Have there been any standout projects that you’ve taken a step back from at completion and thought “Yeah”?
Strongman lock (we won a global engineering award – the Stiftung Warentest).
Blinder MOB and Blinder MINI. A lot of the team’s favourite products are still the Blinder ROAD and Blinder ROAD R70 (rear light).
In fact, in our recent PWR launch we’ve just seen the results of a test from road.cc where they compare our lights to others. When you compare our optics to others you really say “oh yeah”.
- Do you have any cycling partnerships you’d like to mention?
We like to help creative talent emerge. In Sydney, we have recently done a collaboration with designer Mick Boston on a range of apparel called Knog x Leave Pass.
At a product level, we’ve recently partnered with Tactica to bring out a pocket multi-tool product called Fang. It’s truly unique and was conceived by Tactica in Melbourne, then tailored for the bike market by Knog.