A Stellenbosch-based technology company, iKubu, has been making waves among cyclists since 2015 with Backtracker, an invention aimed at increasing their safety. This state-of-the-art technology alerts bike riders to what is happening around them.
Backtracker’s journey started when techno guru Franz Struwig and his student buddy Denho Geldenhuys put their heads together at the University of Pretoria, where both studied computer engineering. The result was iKubu, set up in 2006, with the intention of ignoring the usual corporate culture and creating a safe environment that would encourage out-of-the-box ideas.
Today, Franz is proud to report that Backtracker was the top seller on Amazon in its category in recent Black Friday sales.
In 2015, iKubu was bought by the technology company Garmin and the name changed from Backtracker to Varia Bike Radar. “I stayed on for two years to facilitate the merging of the companies,” says Franz. “Nolan van Heerden manages the engineering team at the Stellenbosch office and is doing a great job. They are gifted and busy working on a few interesting, edgy products.”
Since the initial high of selling the business, Franz has taken a year’s sabbatical leave. “Time is a precious commodity. I don’t want to miss out on the exciting gifts of life. I’m smitten with my lovely wife, Lienke, and want to experience the world through the eyes of my two young sons.” The family has set out to explore nature and do serious bonding on camping trips in the Tankwa Karoo, Nature’s Valley and the Baviaanskloof.
Franz and Lienke are currently focusing their energy on technology start-ups Nooksy and Sihamba Sonke. Nooksy enables grandparents to read stories to their grandchildren across the globe, while Sihamba Sonke is a non-profit organisation that gives hope to young adults in the former Transkei. – Marguerite van Wyk
“I am passionate about people, technology and business, and I try to combine all three in my career,” says Franz.
Catch up with these other Stellenbosch legends are making waves around town, South Africa and beyond: