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Interview – Paul Merz – Motosacoche CEO

Motosacoche Type-A 2022

Interview of a true “Brand Hero”, Paul Merz, CEO of Motosacoche

Paul Merz is a 35 year old Swiss entrepreneur. In 2009, he created MAJ Digital, a digital creation agency, after a self-taught training in digital professions. In 2015, he founded with two partners Collecticity, a crowdfunding platform for French local authorities. In 2020, he founded Motosacoche S.A. and set himself the mission of relaunching the legendary Geneva-based motorcycle brand with a high-end S-Pedelec electric bike concept.

I fell in love with Motosacoche in 2014, during a visit to a museum in Auvergne.I didn’t know, at the time, the incredible history of this brand. I challenged myself to revive it…

Paul Merz is also reviving the M.A.G. engines, which have made the reputation of Swiss know-how worldwide for over 80 years.

Some of them are still working after 100 years. We have created an electric motor, designed and manufactured in Switzerland, with the same focus on performance,reliability and durability.

1- What were the main triggers and personal reasons behind the decision to relaunch Motosacoche

PM – “After 10 years in virtual worlds as the head of a digital agency, I wanted an entrepreneurial adventure around a tangible product. I discovered Motosacoche by chance in a motorcycle museum and the story immediately fascinated me. It was in 2017, mobility was changing with the explosion of electric bikes. I began to dream of riding an electric Motosacoche. The time to create a book on the brand and to finish the projects I was working on, the adventure began a few years later.”

2- Electric Bikes, Motorbikes, Scooters & other EV transportation modes, seem to provide a fertile ground for the rebirth of “Phoenix Brands”, to name a few:  Moke, Hummer, De Lorean, Segway, Bultaco, Voxan, Saroléa and now Motosacoche, what would you say are the reasons behind such a resurgence ? 

PM – “Our western society is going through a period of ambivalence, between dreams of futures on the metaverse and melancholy of the past century with a significant revival of interest in vintage. These Phoenix brands, as you call them, have a history, which appeals to nostalgic people, but at the same time offers a contemporary program, adapted to modern uses. If the spirit of the brand is well respected, it also gives it a foothold that increases its legitimacy while a new brand is created every day. For example, there are hundreds of brands in the bicycle industry. Very few of them existed more than 20 years ago.”

3- Could you share a few anecdotes of “irrational displays of love” from Motosacoche fans throughout history ?

PM –Motosacoche still lives on through several clubs and collectors throughout Switzerland. They get together and many of them are great friends. One of them recreated a complete bike based on photos and a few plans, that represents thousands of hours of work. Several collectors bought a Motosacoche from me with cash, even though the project was only a sketch on paper. One of them even wanted to offer me a duplicate to have the number 0 after he knew that the number 1 copy was sold.”

4- It’s never an easy task to re-launch a brand. Could you share the biggest challenges & obstacles that had to be overcome since the decision to re-launch the Motosacoche brand was made, and what one should learn from this experience? 

PM – “It is never easy to start something new, whatever this is. For Motosacoche, the biggest challenge is to develop a quality product with the huge constraint of producing essentially in Europe. The homologation for a 45 km/h bike is also a major challenge, it is very complex and heavy from an administrative point of view. The regulations and standards, even if essential to the safety of users, is a big brake to entrepreneurship and innovation. The days of the Dufaux brothers and the vehicles assembled in the family garage are long gone.”

5- As an entrepreneur yourself, which signals or data points would you be looking for to decide if a brand is worth safeguarding or relaunching ? 

PM – “You have to know its history, its originality and see how it resonates with the world today. Its reputation is essential and ideally, it should still be present in the minds of potential customers.” 

6- Let’s project ourselves 5 years from now, what do you envision or wish for the Motosacoche brand ?

PM – “First and foremost we want to produce the best 45km/h bikes available on the market. Whether it’s performance, aesthetics or usage. Then we want to recreate a home for Motosacoche. A place accessible to the public that hosts its heritage through a museum part and a workshop where we will assemble our engines and bikes. If all goes well, we will then sell all over the world and the range will be extended with the production of motorcycles.”

7- Which defunct or forgotten brand would you love to see relaunched and why ? 

PM – “The Sironimo brand of syrups. It is a Proust’s madeleine and the imaginary developed by the brand left me good childhood memories.”

(Link added by editorial team: Apr 2023 Blog Post mentioning the apparent recent relaunch of Sironomo !)

8- Who is your favourite artist, could you talk about their best work ?

PM- “To mention only one would be an infidelity to the others and I like them all partially; they have fascinated and transported me at one moment, then disappointed or bored me at another, so that none of them really stands out. At the moment I am particularly sensitive to the music of Georges Brassens, Bob Dylan or Peter Hayes.”

9- Any final words of wisdom for our readers?

PM- “Memento mori: we’re all going to die! It’s silly, but remembering it helps me to step back and avoid nitpicking for no reason.”

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