if. Vehicles

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December 4, 2020

if. are a small startup innovating in the electric automotive industry. We were introduced to them at Rushlight 2019, and have been helping the business to build virtual prototypes to support their funding efforts.

Image from independent.co.uk. Air pollution from cars and vans creates annual health bills of £6billion for the UK.

See how we helped them gain £750k in investment (and why we helped them) here.

We caught up with Co-Founder & Director of Operations, Andrew Hodgson, to find out more about him, and why if. decided to create a new electric micro vehicle.

A bald white man with a short, neat beard and glasses looks into the camera. He is unsmiling and has his arms crossed. He wears a black shirt and is standing against a plain beige background.
Co-Founder, Andrew Hodgson, joined us to talk about if. and their new if.Micro vehicle.
Tell us about yourself?

I am Co-founder of if.Vehicles, we specialise in developing disruptive green technology to transform today’s outdated industries. Our first products have been created to combat numerous major challenges confronting the last-mile delivery and collection sector.

The industry is set to grow exponentially in the coming years. We’re convinced smart design will be the game-changer to combat climate change and clean growth is possible in every sector, if you look at things differently. If you look at design from a different angle, you can create purpose-built products which remove redundancy and improve environmental impact at every stage of their life-cycle.

Describe your innovation in a sentence?

The if.Micro is a micro dismountable electric last-mile delivery vehicle.

How did you discover the issue that your innovation addresses? 

We could see that vehicle fleets used by courier, postal and logistics services were ripe for innovation and there was a need to make last-mile delivery processes speedier and less emissions-intensive, while being able to facilitate deliveries of increased volumes.

Shiny red Royal Mail vans line up at their Livingstone depo.
Image from Evening Standard. Before 2020, Royal Mail alone delivered 1.8 billion parcels every year.
When did you start working with the SBI team, and what have you achieved so far?

Being an alumni of LSBU I knew that I would be able to get fantastic support from the expertise available through SBI. We started working with them in 2019 as they supported us through the design and development of our prototypes.

What has been a challenge or an obstacle in your product development?

Securing Investment, it is one of the hardest aspects of forming a start-up and a real grind, it has however allowed me to develop many new skills.

What are the benefits of working with SBI/LSBU for you?

The benefits are obvious, the knowledge and expertise of the staff available and the clear way they are able to communicate complex findings and reports to our wider team in a clear and easy to digest manor.

if. show their if.Micro in action.
What does a ‘typical’ day look like for you?

Usually start work around 6/7 to get as much done as possible before a 9am meeting, then the rest of my day until 8pm is usually split between design and business development activities.

What were you doing before you founded your company?

Completing my Masters at LSBU focussing on Circular Economy Design – Understanding the relationships and responsibilities of those designing, manufacturing and using products.

How did this experience help you build your company/develop your product?

Without the support of SBI, we would not have been able to progress as rapidly as we have and would have not yet secured our IP.

What is your top tip for a start-up or SME developing a new product?

Gain industry feedback as early as possible – It can often be very critical but it is this that can help guide your design and create something that your customers will actually use.

What are you currently working on?

Sales. We have recently moved our core activities into sales as we drive forward, hoping to capitalise on the increased interest we are now receiving from the sector. This is thanks largely to Covid-19 and how it is highlighting the many inefficiencies of current delivery methods.

We can now provide our customers with tailor-made solutions built around our core platform and IP.

We have recently secured the capacity for immediate production and scale-up of our vehicles.

What’s your favourite thing to do outside of work?

Cook - I am currently working my way through the various genres of cuisine.

Finally, what would be your specialist subject on Mastermind?

Southern Gothic / Americana.

Find out more about if. on their website: ifyoulook.co.uk

Are you looking for support developing a prototype for your electrical innovation? Our Sustainable Innovation programme is now open to applications for its 2021 cohort. Find out more here.