The bicycle thief

0512_Launch_BiketrakWhen Kristine Akins had a second bike stolen in 2010, the veteran entrepreneur didn’t get mad. She got even.

Share this article!


Kristine Akins, CEO of BikeTrak
// Photo by Alexandra Shyshkina

When Kristine Akins had a second bike stolen in 2010, the veteran entrepreneur didn’t get mad. She got even. In 2011, she founded BikeTrak, a startup that is building GPS-powered security devices for bikes. Embedded in the bicycle, the unit will automatically alert riders and police when a bicycle is stolen, then pinpoint where the bike is at any given time. “It’s a complete system for thwarting bike theft,” says Akins. The system operates at the nexus of several cutting-edge technologies, including GPS, cellular chip and “machine-to-machine” communications. “There were significant challenges,” says Akins. Other technical hurdles include ensuring the unit isn’t on or activated when the bike is accidentally jostled or when the rider moves the bike, and embedding the device, with its three antennas, in the actual bike frame. Akins is testing a “Beta I” version of BikeTrak this month — the initial round of units will be built into the water cage — and hopes to release about 200 products this summer, just before the September Interbike trade show in Las Vegas. Akins has been working with Portland police on the device and says detectives “love the idea” of an automated system. Would-be vigilantes, take note. A notice on the BikeTrak web site likely will read: “Don’t go after the thief yourself.”

Bicycle security devices
Kristine Akins
Received $150,000 in convertible note funding. “We’re looking at getting $750,000 before launch,” says Akins. Named as a semi-finalist in Angel Oregon 2012. Two full-time employees, several part-time and contractor workers. Retail launch price is $299. “This is heavy-duty technology, but we hope to get prices down over time.”
“Bikes are so easy to steal,” says Akins. “If thieves think they might be tracked, they’ll probably think twice. Ninety percent of thieves are idiots. But we’re struggling a bit in terms of publicizing where the unit will be located on the bike.”