These three Hamburgers are successfully hitting the waves of the global market with electric jetboards.
Jennifer Köhnsen, Carsten Höltig and Holger Daum love fast water sports. For twelve years the insurance broker, the surfer and the engineer worked meticulously on electric bodyboards and surfboards that set new standards.
In February 2022 their module set, known as mo-jet, comes on the market where it is expected to make waves worldwide: Speeds of more than 65 km/h and 116 kg propulsion meet a separable, self-cooling battery that is easy to transport, thanks to its weight of only 8.4 kg and is charged in only 45 minutes.
What’s more, the modules not only glide on and over the water, but under it too! The MBG Schleswig-Holstein has already invested into the project.
In December, three private sponsors joined up as further investors. The trio also raised funds through a kick-starter campaign at the end of 2021. A complete success: The financing target was reached in less than five hours!
Flying over the water surface, plunging through the waves or gliding past corals and shoals of fish whilst experiencing amazing weightlessness: From now on, not only action heroes can do this. Water enthusiasts of every age, beginners and pro surfers will have the fun of their lives with the modular jetboards and diving jets created by three Hamburg inventors.
Mo-jet intends to turn the market for electric surfboards upside down and knock its competitors off the waves from Hawaii to Dubai.
The three Hamburgers put more than twelve years of development work into mo-jet in partnership with friends from the surfer scene and whilst working in their day jobs. Their aim: To develop the perfect electric board for beginners and boundless surfing fun – even when wind and waves take a holiday.
“We simply want to create the coolest product ever. A system that is fun for everyone, child’s play to assemble and transport, and an overwhelming experience,” says 32-year-old Jennifer Köhnsen.
Creating Their Dream
To realise the dream, it was necessary to navigate around three big obstacles: weight, size and battery power. Normal batteries usually weigh around 27 kg and consist of one large unit – bulky and unsuitable for one person to carry along the beach on their own. The power and quality of the batteries were also rather underwhelming at that time: only experts were able to enjoy real gliding fun.
“Beginners stay in the so-called displacement ride and the boards give up the ghost in the curves,” explains Carsten Höltig. And they can only carry 90 kg at most. “We wanted to create an e-board that could carry two, three or more people – both to have fun together and also to save lives.”
The batteries from mo-jet set new standards. Those of competitors often have to cool down for several hours, depending on the outside temperature, before they can be charged again – which itself takes about another two and a half hours.
“The functionality of the e-boards on the market is simply not very impressive. We lift electric surfing to a new level,” says Holger Daum. The mo-jet battery is cooled by the water temperature and a specially developed unit containing coolant liquid during the ride.
“We worked for many years to develop and optimise an efficient way to cool the battery,” says Jennifer Köhnsen. “E-boards are only fun if they are as user-friendly as they can realistically be. Ten minutes of riding and five hours of waiting around is simply not practical. These costly tools then quickly end up left in a corner.”
Over the years, the founders and investors worked out 17 body prototypes and put countless hours of work as well as more than 600,000 EUR into their vision. The heating cellar in Jennifer’s semi-detached house in the north of Hamburg was turned into a testing pool. This is where the power unit of jetbox was tested.
The trio cleverly redirected the 100 litres per second that were thereby set in motion using a system of pipes and drums. A top-class engineering achievement – particularly if you consider that not everyone in the team is an engineer. But this didn’t put them off. Nor did the recurring problems with the wrong components, supply issues and many other belly flops and material setbacks, which finally led them to decide to use suppliers from Germany.
The body comes from northern Germany and the rest from Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Only the battery comes from China. The team of founders also used the major brake put on the project by the corona pandemic in a positive
way. They decided to completely redevelop the products using two batteries to create more power.
“We knew that it would take time and cost money, but that afterwards it would be even better,” says Carsten Höltig, a passionate surfer who heads off to the waves in his every free moment.
But the big breakthrough came with an idea of Jenny (a qualified insurance broker) that first made possible the modular construction and the easy connection of the parts in the water. She moved the Bluetooth interface directly to the connection of the components and bridged the distance from the throttle by cable.
“This move opened up completely new construction possibilities,” she says. “The surf module can now be detached from the tailpiece with two short hand movements and replaced by a diving module.”
The electric surfboard can be converted to a diving jet in no time at all – it can be driven both over and under the water with the same motor. Jenny registered her idea as a patent in 2020.
The official publication took place in September 2021. This is just one of three patents that have been registered for mo-jet.
“Our board is packed with inspired innovations,” says Jenny.
In a last step, the team from mo-jet printed the final drafts as mini jetboards at a scale of 1:5 in a 3D printer, to try
them out in the Hamburg city park lake. The model that proved to be the fastest and most agile was then selected and tested again at a scale of 1:1.
Today mo-jet offers seven modules. The tailpiece, the basis component which we have christened the “mo-jet”, provides the power and is the core of the product. With the “body” it becomes a “bodyboard” for kids; with the “surf air” and the “surfboard” it’s a perfect board to surf on; and with the “foil”, an underwater propeller raises the mo-jet one metre above the water.
Mo-Jet Can Save Lives
The “dive” element can plunge under water and the “rescue” module has been specially developed for emergency sea
“The mo-jet can save lives and make the work of lifeguards easier,” says Holger Daum. Tests with the German Lifeguards Association (DLRG) have shown that the electric surfboards are superior to both jet skis and motorboats.
This is because they can be brought to the water’s edge without any mechanical aids and can set off immediately even in shallow water.
Many Uses In A Growing Market
The founders see the market potential as being greater than the luxury segment would expect, thanks to the mo-jet’s varied potential applications. The price of a mo-jet starts at 10,000 EUR. In 2020, 6,000 foils, 2,500 diving jets and 2,500 jet boards were sold worldwide.
Köhnsen believes that the low sales figures are due to the inadequately developed and impractical devices that put too little effort into making the ride more enjoyable.
In the first year, mo-jet is aiming to produce 200 pieces, rising to 500 in the second year. The manufacturing site is in Norderstedt. The trio are focussing on Europe, the USA and the United Arab Emirates as their core market.
“We’re naturally targeting yacht owners and motorboat enthusiasts as a first step. But we also see potential for the product as equipment for leisure resorts and water sports facilities as well as companies that hire out water sports equipment,” explains Jennifer Köhnsen.
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