BrakeAce founder Matt Miller has created the world's first brake sensor and analysis app, helping mountain bike riders get faster without getting fitter. Based in Aotearoa's mountain bike mecca, Rotorua, Matt is a former elite MTB rider, current MTB coach and fulltime business founder. BrakeAce placed second in Soda's recent seed grant.
How did the idea for BrakeAce come about?
I invented a brake sensor during my PhD and then spent five years researching how mountain bikers use their brakes on bike trails. I was coaching top riders around the world and we had a real need to understand how they brake so they could win more races. Understanding their fitness wasn't enough. BrakeAce is the tool we wish we had.
When did you first working on the business concept?
While I was at Uni we were focused heavily on publishing research and securing IP. But there were always questions from users about how they would make use of all the information from the sensor on their own. I left Uni in 2019 and formed the BrakeAce team. The goal was to make braking data so easy to use that every rider could improve and have more fun.
Tell us how BrakeAce works...
There are sensors on every other part of the bike - tires, pedals, shifters, etc. - but BrakeAce gives riders insights into where they can improve the way they ride. The app shows them three Key Opportunities from every ride where they can focus on improving.
What stage is your business currently at?
Since 2019 we have had most of the companies in the bike industry using our app and prototype sensors. We needed funding to go wireless, so we ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to get a new sensor off the ground. We are currently prototyping these and expect to deliver in the coming months.
What has been your biggest learning on this journey?
The whole journey has been a trial by fire. As a non-technical founder with a tech product, I need to be OK asking questions and being the dumbest in the room. Asking the right questions at the right time is a great skill that I'm still working on.
Who or what inspires you?
I work every day with incredible athletes. Their focus and persistence is contagious. It's impossible to not be inspired to relentlessly pursue a goal.
What advice would you give other start-ups?
Build a business around solving a problem that you have. The journey is so difficult that you need to have some conviction around what you're doing. Otherwise what's the point?
What will you use the Seed Grant winnings for?
We're pretty excited to use the money to improve our website. I built the site myself and am not a designer, so it needs some help.
What is your goal for BrakeAce?
That in five years we will have changed the sport of mountain biking. Riders around the world will be using BrakeAce to beat their mates. There will even be MTB skills coaches who operate exclusively online.