By Peter Lee — May 24, 2016
I have the exciting and rewarding job of leading a company on the cutting edge of global transportation. The past few months have been a whirlwind of growth for URBAN626. National and global sales have increased exponentially, and we just opened our flagship retail showroom and headquarters in Pasadena. Startup life moves so quickly that opportunities to step back and reflect are rare, but the Grand Opening of our Pasadena headquarters last week got me thinking about the many reasons URBAN626 calls Pasadena home.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with URBAN626, we are an urban innovation startup focused on solving the pain points of city life. Our story began in early 2013, when Grant Delgatty, an instructor at Art Center College of Design, noticed a trend in modern transportation: as global populations become more urban, there is a need for personal mobility options that are versatile enough to manage the many challenges of city life. Three years and countless prototypes later, URB-E foldable electric vehicles hit the marketplace. In just 10 months, we’ve built foundational partnerships and attracted incredible interest worldwide.
URB-E has global appeal, but Pasadena is our true home. We’re dedicated to developing a supply chain in the US – Southern California, to be specific – which is a rarity for modern tech companies. Keeping URB-E production close to home has occasionally been challenging, but has ultimately been the best decision our company could have made.
Producing URB-Es ourselves allows us to hone in on quality. Some early prototypes of the URB-E frame actually used parts from China, but we couldn’t control the quality, durability, and safety of the product. California has a long tradition of producing sophisticated products for aircraft and vehicle industries, but virtually no new tech companies are taking advantage of that. Moving manufacturing and assembly to the US means more oversight and logistics for us, but it also means that we can bolster our innovation with this rich manufacturing heritage and tackle any challenges from the foundation up.
Planting strong roots in Pasadena also enables us to draw on the incredible talent and creativity this city has to offer. When people think of vehicle manufacturing, they often think of a big warehouse far removed from daily life. As a company dedicated to urban solutions, that was never something we wanted to be. By setting up our headquarters in Old Town Pasadena, we’ve built a team of bright, innovative people with interesting lives and stories.
Our team comes from eclectic backgrounds, everything from guitar production to filmmaking to professional fly-fishing, but we all have a passion for solving global problems in new, creative ways. Pasadena is a place talented people actually want to work, so being here has allowed us to grow the strong, diverse team that we need.
To me, URBAN626 is about so much more than an electric vehicle. It’s about fostering a culture that creates cutting-edge solutions to modern problems. Pasadena’s high concentration of artistic talent and technological brainpower provided the perfect backdrop for URB-E, and I cannot wait to see how this community continues to support our innovation and growth.
The new URB-E Retail Showroom is located at 54 W Green St. in Pasadena. For more information or to schedule a test ride, stop by anytime 10am-6pm on weekdays, 11am-7pm Saturdays call (626) 480-8110. Tours of our production line in Pasadena are also available upon request.