A desire to ensure that people with disabilities can also get around in nature provided the inspiration behind Exotek. The first fully-electric, all-terrain vehicle (ATV) will soon be for sale.
After a cycling accident in 2015, Sigurd Groven lost all feeling from his chest downwards, although the desire to stay active and spend time with his family in nature remained great. Sigurd had tried out various vehicles, including a French-made ATV, but nothing was good enough to meet his needs.
When Mattias Storvestre and his partner, who is in a wheelchair, became parents for the first time in 2016, they gradually noticed how difficult it was for the family to spend time together in woods and nature with a wheelchair. Mattias, who has a background as an aircraft mechanic, therefore developed a fully electric ATV for his partner based on a French produced chassis.
Developed for their own needs
Sometime later, Mattias and Sigurd met at an activity camp for people with spinal cord injuries. Sigurd had the same French produced ATV and asked if Mattias would modify it. Mattias modified several models before he finally developed a unique chassis to achieve the best possible mobility and comfort. The result was the Exoquad.
“The new ATV opened up a completely new world for me," says founder Sigurd Groven.
The men concluded that there was a gap in the market and started Exotek in 2020.
“We want as many people as possible to have access to Exoquad, although because it is so expensive we want to look at a range of solutions such as rental and sales to foundations, activity parks, and organisations, as well as selling to private customers,” says Groven.
Funding adviser Mari Dorte Jønland Michaelsen at Innovation Norway Møre og Romsdal has maintained a dialogue with the company the entire time.
“The Exotek team has demonstrated a very good ability to execute ever since its inception, and it is genuinely interested in meeting customer’s needs. It has planned thoroughly and has used relevant services for each development phase. We are now seeing exciting growth with the establishment of production to meet demand,” she says.
Full support from Innovation Norway
Eelco Van Weerdhuizen eventually joined the new company. He came from a background as a consultant and many years in the oil and gas industry and was a good fit for the role of CEO.
“Exotek had already received a market clarification grant from Innovation Norway and had entered Sparebanken Møre’s ‘business acumen’ competition. The story, product, and its vision were so impressive that I really wanted to help them. First in my free time as a volunteer and later as both a partner and employee of the company,” says Eelco.
The company subsequently received a commercialisation grant from Innovation Norway, won the NOK 1 million prize in the ‘business acumen’ competition, and was granted a growth guarantee programme grant from Innovation Norway and Sparebanken Møre.
“Building up such a product from nothing costs a lot of money. Building a production line and getting started with sales. Getting support is therefore vital, as is subsequently bringing in investors so we can scale the company, says Van Weerdhuizen.
Sustainable and ambitious
Exotek has established itself in Sunnmøre, and works closely with local players within production, brand design, marketing, funding, and business development. A test project has started in collaboration with a company in Oslo that is focusing on reusing batteries from electric scooters.
Recently, the company has worked intensively on improving and further developing its first prototype. The new version of the Exoquad forms the basis for the marketable product that the plan was to have ready before summer 2022. Several orders have already been received for the ATV.
In parallel with this, Exotek is on the hunt for investors and is also working on a share issue.
“We will soon be entering a phase of scaling and growth. In line with our current growth plan, we will need a fresh injection of capital going forward. This is particularly important with respect to leveraging production and also with respect to providing jobs and leading expertise in crucial fields. The ambitions are high, and we have a clear goal of expanding our product portfolio in the long term,” says Eelco.
A number of enquiries have been received from abroad and there seems to be great interest, although Exotek has not spent much time on actual marketing yet. The ambition is quite clearly to be able to offer the product globally.