qutbluebox Innovation Challenge Finalists: VBK Motors – Q&A

VBK Motors - logo

1. What is VBK Motors?

VBK Motors are the creators of a range of lightweight personal electric vehicles including e-bikes (conversion kit), e-skateboards and e-scooters.

Featuring Advanced Modular Transport & Energy System (AMTES) technology, a number of key components can be easily removed from each vehicle’s chassis and utilised for a wide number of different uses.

2. Who are the people behind VBK Motors?

The team comprises of the three founders: Victor Vicario, Blake Fuller and Karl Von Richter of which the first name initials forms the name of the company.

  • Victor is a strong advocate of innovation and is VBK Motors’ team leader. He has been admitted as a Solicitor in the Supreme Court of Queensland and in addition to his legal experience, he has developed a significant amount of knowledge and skill in both mechanic and electronic engineering. He continues to be involved in a number of tech organisations around southeast Queensland and has been President of HSBNE, Queensland’s largest community tech group (visit www.hsbne.org) as well as co-organiser of the Brisbane 3D Printing Meetup Group. Victor is also part of the mechanical engineering group for Clenergy Team Arrow and is preparing to race in the World Solar Challenge in Darwin during October. Victor is heavily involved in 3D printing through his business 3D Space Labs and through his academic research with QUT.
  • Blake is a final year electrical engineering undergraduate at QUT and is the brain behind VBK Motors’ smart computer modules. Their range of products have an unprecedented number of useful and intuitive features which VBK Motors believe have been long overdue in the portable personal transportation market. He has been Project Manager and President of QUT’s Electrical Engineering Student Society where he was deeply involved in hardware and embedded system design projects. Projects include the Bolt, Storm, Flash and Stratosphere Balloon and details can be found at www.quteess.com. Blake is currently working for Cochlear in the hearing implants team, primarily working on manufacturing processors for the Cochlear BAHA bone conduction implant and the next generation of inner ear implants.
  • Karl is a final year mechanical engineering undergraduate at QUT. He has been President of the QUT Robotics Club and is currently working as a programmer and Robotics Engineer at CSIRO. Karl is heavily involved in both chassis design and battery management systems for VBK Motors’ products.

3. What is your connection(s) to QUT?

Victor holds a Master of Laws majoring in intellectual property law from QUT while Blake and Karl are final year undergraduates at QUT.

4. How long have you been operating as a business?

VBK Motors was officially created in 2015, however the technology and innovation has been in constant development for the past two years with a number of successful tests and prototypes demonstrating the commercial viability of the core concept.

5. How did you come up with the idea for VBK Motors? (VBK Motors’ Advanced Modular Transport & Energy System “AMTES”)

The idea behind VBK Motors’ innovative modular system stems from addressing one of the biggest issues of the 21st century – how to address personal transportation in increasingly dense cities. It is something Victor, Blake and Karl has experienced along with billions of people around the world who have been affected by inefficient transportation alternatives, high costs and lost time in traffic congestion. While some portable vehicles have attempted to provide a solution, their high cost and static functionality has prevented them from becoming mainstream products.

What the market has been missing, is a flexible, versatile and affordable option and VBK Motors offers a range of highly customisable electric vehicles with revolutionary modular technology. VBK Motors’ innovation challenges the current industry-standardised structure of having users conform to their products rather than the products conforming to users’ needs.

6. Do you have any previous experiences in start-ups or business?

Victor, Blake and Karl have had opportunities to work for some of the most important and known companies in the country with Victor also having experience working in start-up businesses.

7. What has been your biggest challenge with VBK Motors to date?

While the current prototypes for the e-long board, the e-mini board, the e-scooter and the bike conversion kit work well, they have been constructed using off-the-shelf components and their level of efficiency can be significantly improved by utilising high quality custom parts.

The next stage is to finalise the production-ready prototype, which requires the production of a highly-precise mechanism with components specifically tailored to the product. Once the final prototype has been completed, the intellectual property protection will be finalised and production of the components may commence.

8. What has been your biggest success with VBK Motors so far?

The biggest success has been building and testing a number of functional prototypes to demonstrate their practical capabilities. At present, the proof of concept has been completed, it has been shown the technology is viable and provides innovation and benefits compared to existing products.

9. Where do you find inspiration and what entrepreneurs are you influenced by?

The strength of the team comes from their diverse range of experience and backgrounds.

Victor draws inspiration from number of entrepreneurs who have managed to bring significant technological advances across a number of different areas revolutionising multiple markets. One of Victor’s favourite individuals is entrepreneur Elon Musk (PayPal and Tesla) as he has demonstrated a formidable skill in developing successful companies by applying his unique way of thinking and approach to business.

10. What would it mean to you and your start-up to win the Innovation Challenge?

Winning the qutbluebox Innovation Challenge would provide a crucial financial boost to VBK Motors, bringing the commercialisation of their products much closer to reality. They have selected the best technology for their products and have prepared a detailed plan on how to market their creation and generate revenue.

Victor believes they are extremely close at making a difference within the personal transportation market but have exhausted most of their resourcing at this point. Additional capital is required to prepare for production, undertake further testing and to register and protect their intellectual property.