This is the future of Urban Mobility — the eBoot

Munich-based start-up eBootiful launched their claim to the future of Electro-Mobility and Mass Urban Mobility in the form of their revolutionary eco-friendly carbon-neutral electric boots, or eBoots.

The eBoots are commercially available as of January 2020 and are a direct result of 3 years intensive co-operation with the University of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, and leading companies involved in the fields of Agility, Digitisation, eMobility, and Sustainability. And Artificial Intelligence.

We caught up with eBootiful and their charismatic 28-year old CEO Stefan Müller and got a comprehensive insight into the Next Big Thing.

Roll aside, eScooters

According to Stefan, eBoots are simply awesome and possess all the advantages of eScooters, but none of the disadvantages, thus providing a massive step forward for the nascent eMobility and multi-modal transport industries.

Speaking from a bean bag in their central Munich rooftop location, Müller expanded on eBoots inherent versatility and killer advantages: Clearly something foot-shaped is the ultimate natural and intuitive design for any form of human mobility, because that’s where we as a species have evolved to, after millions of years on this earth, and what we are left with when we are naked and need to move. Compared to eScooters, our eBoots knock it out the ballpark, having much smaller carbon footprints (2 of them), and blending in better visually when scattered around our cities. Our ability to offer them using a BaaS (Boots-as-a-Service) Business Model is simply the icing on the cake, and was instrumental in eBootiful winning the Gilbert O’Sullivan Award for ‘Most Disruptive Disruptor 2019’.

Combating alcohol-related mobility incidents

A key argument for eBoots according to Müller, is that they are self-correcting when people under the influence of alcohol are using them.

As Stefan puts it himself: Look, we’ve all jumped on an eScooter after a few beers, a couple of quality red wines and some Jägerbombs. We now know it requires a certain degree of balance and control that may not actually be present, resulting in accidents and these lurid newspaper headlines (shown above). With our pioneering eBoots you simply put your feet in them and press the HOME button. They take you there in the shortest and safest way, one automated step after the other, and exactly in the way humans were designed to move.

Towards a greater eco-friendliness and sustainability

When pressed on whether boots made of leather can really be seen as being good for nature and the environment, Müller pointed to their revolutionary and disruptive means of only harvesting leather from cows, representing an innovative breakthrough as the animals don’t need to be physically dead and are also not harmed, even if they don’t look quite so attractive to all the other cows.

The custom-built eBoot battery uses a special and unique variant of nickel-cadmium technology. Such raw materials can only be found deep in the pristine and untouched rainforests of Equatorial Guinea, a country currently experiencing conflicts between local indigenous tribes, and nickel-cadmium miners supported by global multi-nationals and some criminal elements. However, Müller saw no moral issues on this topic, pointing out that the critical factor was that people could look cool in their eBoots whilst shopping in town on a Saturday. Müller took extra measures to secure his raw materials, with some words in the ear of ex-US President Obama whom he met at the legendary and awesome Bits & Pretzels event in September 2019.

The Wackersberg Friendly-User Trial

We did ask Müller about the incident during the well-publicised Wackersberg friendly-user eBoot Trial, where an elderly woman (Gertrude Wasserfinden, aged 68) had an incorrect HOME location programmed and ended up waist-deep in the river Isar some 600m from the village, with some very tired knees that required reconstructive surgery. Müller responded that this was normal and expected, and exactly the kind of valuable customer feedback that his MVP needed, as input for the next iteration of his Agile development process.

When pressed on the obvious issue of a user finding the right size of eBoots from a pile left on the pavement outside a main train station, Müller suggested that their Professional Services Department of eBootiful Management Consultants (EB MC’s) would be standing next to the pile of eBoots to ask customers for their size, measure their feet, and check whether they had the right size of eBoots in stock. Müller quickly pointed out that Yes, it is just like in a shoe-shop, and that’s exactly where we look to hire our top Management Consultants.

And here is the launch version the eBoots

Shown in Maximum-MVP form and incorporating iterative customer feedback from the Wackersberg Trial, these represents the landmark first-ever commercial eBoots.

Those shown are the size 43 Pro model eBoots with the NEMA 57 stepper motor giving a range of about 15 km between charges. This model has the optional Smart Beckon system, where the boots can be made to automatically come to their owners, when they are unsure where they’d left them. The Smart Beckon mode did attract some further controversy during the Wackersberg trial, as the sight of 2 boots walking by themselves caused minor traumatic stress in partners of the test pilots.

The eBoots are naturally fully-connected and have an embedded 5G cellular modem with an eSIM, in addition to GPS and Bluetooth. Müller stated that their eBoots were essentially future-proof IoT devices and generated masses of valuable data that was deeply analysed by the eBootiful Data Science team using AI and machine-learning techniques to create unique insights for data-driven decisions. When pushed to give an example of these data insights, Müller mentioned they could count the number of steps taken in a day.

Product Roadmap

CEO Müller was expansive on eBootiful plans for the future, in particular their human-less range of sporting eFootware, which would be so disruptive as to remove entirely the human element, as shown below. When asked what the purpose would be of such a system, if the shoes reached their destination without the person being in them, Müller hesitated, then said that those questioning such innovative and sustainable technologies would be subsequently shown to be fools on the future pages of the Tech history books.

There were also features in the current Product Backlog to support a flying version of the eBoots for urban air mobility, with eBootiful engineers tapping into the latest drone and air taxi technology developments. According to Müller we should watch this space, as final tweaks to the first and soon-to-be-iconic Air eBoots are being made. The only challenge left is to properly implement a comprehensive ultra-redundancy concept, as their existing solution means that each Air eBoot is the size of a refrigerator.

Corporate Development and Funding

Müller admitted that he had accepted too much of the abundant start-up funding available and had signed up with too many corporate accelerators and venture partner programs. This had resulted in only 30% of his personal time being actually spent on advancing eBootiful Products and Sales. The other 70% involved extensive travelling to make presentations and appear in corporate innovation meetings & workshops — mainly discussing how to become more agile. When it was gently suggested to Müller that eBootiful may become more agile if he devoted more of his time to it, Müller gently hinted back, that this sounded like really hard work.

One recent corporate improvement according to Müller, is that they are now a much leaner outfit with the sudden departure of the other 2 co-founders a few months ago. Müller intimated that there were disagreements on company direction, similar to those he’d had with his 3 original investors and concluded: There was only head space for one right answer and that was mine. Diversity and tolerating different opinions only lose us time and is not what a disruptive start-up really needs.

And with a final word for us — emphasizing the seriousness of the current climate crisis, the reality of global warming, and the need for each individual to consider deeply their own consumption and mobility habits for the good of the planet and especially future generations — eBootiful CEO Stefan Müller jumped into his 2400kg SUV and tore off at great speed.

Disclaimer. These are the opinions and thinking of myself (John Craig) only, and do not represent the views of any other people or organizations. The Stefan Müller here is an entirely fictitious character, as I do not know of a Stefan Müller. The eBoots were designed and temporarily built on my kitchen table.

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John Craig

John Craig

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Veteran Product Management guy based in Munich, starting to use medium to get some random thoughts written down, related mainly to my work.