So, you’re looking to start a new business, but do not want to start from the ground up?  Maybe you’ve looked into franchising a fast-food restaurant, a gym, or a health and supplement store.  All of these are established business models that, with a little research on location and demographics, can provide a steady income for a small to medium size business owner.  However, as these markets have become more and more saturated, perhaps you’ve thought about doing something a little different.

How about starting a bike share? If you’ve been to any large city in Europe within the last few years, you’ve seen the brightly coloured bicycles whizzing down the street while people of various ages commute to work, tour the city, or grab groceries.  They have become so ubiquitous that many now use them as their primary means of transportation. Copenhagen, the number one bicycle city in world, has crunched the numbers to show why this is. Check out this link: https://www.theguardian.com/cities/gallery/2018/jun/11/copenhagenize-case-urban-cycling-graphs

But citywide public programs are only one vertical for bike share programs. Private programs hosted by office based businesses and university campuses are gaining popularity, not only for offering alternative transport to employees and students, but also for providing convenient access to cycling as a healthy stress relieving activity. Another link to check out: https://www.straight.com/news/1040826/health-benefits-cycling-could-save-taxpayers-millions-dollars

North America has demonstrated a clear demand for a solution to the so-called “last mile problem.” More importantly, there are thousands upon thousands of cities that are ripe for an entrepreneur to move into with their own bike share business.  Whether you’re interested in dominating a particular region or just setting yourself up to be acquired, bike share is definitely worth exploring.

All of this begs the question: what is needed to start a bike share?  Obviously, you’ll need the actual bicycles themselves. A sturdy bike of good quality is necessary to withstand the rigours of daily rental use. A partnership with your local bike shop is a good starting point for your bike supply.

Next, you’ll need a smart-lock with either a Bluetooth connection or GPS/Bluetooth combo.  After all, you will need to keep track of your vehicles.  Bluetooth wheel locks are a popular choice, as they can be directly mounted to a bike frame, turning a bike into its own smart bike sharing station. A wheel lock with a “lock-to” mechanism is becoming the preferred system, as it allows bikes to be secured to standard parking racks or street furniture.

photo of a TapBike bicycle

Every year, new manufacturers release products trying to satisfy this market.  However, if you’re looking for a more established brand with a reputation for quality, it may be worth it to explore AXA.  AXA was established over 115 years ago in the Netherlands and their locks continue to be some of the most commonly used in Europe.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you’ll need the software that will manage your fleet, keep tabs on their location, allow your operators to find and maintain the bikes, handle support tickets and, of course, allow your users to actually access the bikes so you can make money. There is a wide variety of software out there of varying quality.

Putting all of these pieces together takes effort, time and connections.  Sometimes, the best solutions are “one-stop-shopping.” If that’s the case, you’ve come to the right place with TapBike.  We supply all of the physical hardware you would need, as well as the software platform to manage your fleet.  This includes bicycles, locks, mobile app, and a dedicated fleet management system.

The market has spoken and spoken loudly: the future of mobility is two wheeled.  It might be time for the prospective franchise owner to look into this opportunity as a new, timely, and inventive option.

 

 

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