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SA radar startup iKubu exits to Garmin technologies

iKubu, the Stellenbosch, South African-based company popularly responsible for the Bactracker bicycle radar technology, has exited to satellite navigation multinational Garmin.

Grindstone fellow, iKubu last year introduced its Backtracker technology to the world as a means to test out the market and make a name for itself internationally. Although the company didn’t manage to reach its US$194 000 (over R2.2-million) funding goal, it turns out its plans ended up working out after all.

“iKubu has found a way to implement short-range radar into a low-power system that addresses a common concern among cyclists – identifying potential hazards that are approaching them from behind,” said Cliff Pemble, Garmin’s president and CEO. “We are delighted to add this technology to the Garmin portfolio.”

iKubu was launched in 2006 when managing director Franz Struwig self-funded the company. Two years later, Nolan van Heerden came on board as a shareholder

Read more: Tech that wants to save cyclists’ lives: meet the team behind Backtracker

“Garmin is a technological leader among cyclists, and we are looking forward to integrating our technology and expertise into their outstanding products,” said Struwig. “Garmin gives us the resources to develop, bring to market, and showcase our products that we otherwise would not have.”

Struwig told Ventureburn that this acquisition puts the iKubu team in a real utopia. “Garmin is the perfect fit for iKubu. We are now able to really focus on R&D, while having access to an incredibly successful manufacturing and marketing machine,” he says.

Most of the former employees of iKubu will become employees of Garmin’s existing subsidiary in South Africa and will continue to operate primarily as a research and development center based in Stellenbosch’s Techno Park.

The financial terms of the acquisition will not be released.

Update: This article was updated to include the quote from Struwig.

Author Bio

Jacques Coetzee
Jacques grew up in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Keen to take over the world, one word at a time, he has always been interested in both politics and development and studied International Relations (BA) at Stellenbosch University. With an interest in innovation and social change, he seeks to tell the... More