It is a Chinese helmet company, but with a lot of fabric to cut. The history of Livall, the company of Chinese origin that has just opened its first store in Spain, It has behind a Mano de Midas of the enterprise that went to China to find a business vein. Perhaps Manu Marín is a little known name in the ecosystem, but he has been working in the financing of startups for years and one of his investments is about to go public: Wallbox.
Marín began his career in the United States at the hands of large technology companies to become one of the creators of the current Movistar Fusion of Telefónica. After that he created its own investment fund in startups in Spain. Bad luck, it was 2011 and the housing bubble was in full swing; there was little time for startups in our economy. “At that time I had the opportunity to work as a director at Morgan Stanley in Hong Kong, in the Yellow River Capital technology fund, so I put my fund aside,” he explains to this medium.
The summary of his adventure in China was based on reviewing portfolios of companies and choosing which of them Morgan would invest in. They were Series C with a view to going public in a short time, so their maturity was essential. It was then that came across a Livall that looked little like what it is today by the hand of Bryan Zheng.
It wasn’t a company for Morgan, but it was for the Marin fund. At that time he decided to invest for 15% of Livall’s capital and see what would happen in the future. “Although it had nothing of design and technology, the Livall helmets had a lot of potential,” he explains. Meanwhile, Marín would leave Morgan to go to another of his investments. Some Wallbox electric chargers that were starting to work in a world where the electric car was taking its first steps. It went from 4 employees to more than 100 and from closing small rounds to scheduling its IPO. Marín left the company in 2019, but remains in the shareholders and board of the same. So much so that it confirms that this Wednesday Wallbox has already signed its expected IPO before the end of the year.
That was when Livall’s turn came. Without projects at hand and seeing that the technology helmets company began to emerge in China, it was time for international expansion.
“I became COO of Livall and that was when I signed the big international agreements. I was also part of product design and technology. And when we went to CES in Las Vegas I saw that the product was liked, that’s when I got into it.”
Manu Marín, COO of Livall.
Livall had already raised the first € 300,000 on Indiegogo to create its first designs while closing a funding round of $ 11.1 million. Shortly after, Livall left China to begin expanding to France, Germany or the United States via technology fairs: the CES, the IFA or Eurobike. The company had to wait until 2020 to have a European headquarters, 100% owned by Marín and gestated during confinement, which was responsible for the distribution of technological helmets. But in Spain there was no news from the Chinese company. Up to now.
Marin has brought the factory, at the time of assembly and in a few months of manufacturing, to Albacete. “It is a very interesting strategic point and we have had a lot of support from the City Council to set up the factory; in addition, I had a commitment to myself that the subsidiary was in Spain”, explains Marín to Hipertextual.
Now, the subsidiary in Spain has financing from the parent company in China. Also with one million euros from investors close to Marín. But the company is already preparing the round of 6 million euros at the beginning of 2021, of which 4 are already committed to a valuation of 30 million, with important family offices.
All in all, the company explains, Livall wants to achieve 2.5 million in sales during this first year.
Livall, a matter of helmets
The bottom line about Livall is that they do indeed make and sell helmets. On a bike or scooter, and also for sports. They are also working on homologated motorcycle helmets.
Their differentiation? In addition to the price, which is below the market average, they want to position themselves in the sector of new forms of mobility by way of security. Each helmet comes with a built-in signaling system. A kind of position lights, brake light and indicator system. Also with an accident detection system and an emergency call system capable of sending an SMS with geolocation to the contact numbers in the event of an accident. Also with a call system integrated into the helmet –without the need for earpieces– that allows you to connect even with other similar helmets.
The objective of Livall is to improve the visibility of cyclists, or riders in general, through the helmets themselves. An objective that has already earned them several design awards and with which they want to present themselves for the largest technology fair at the next CES in Las Vengas in 2022.