Bringing Bike Sharing to the United States
I am the president and co-founder of a bike sharing startup named Spin. Spin is bringing the Chinese style stationary bike concept to the United States. It is working surprisingly well in 18 markets in the first 3 months of operation. Therefore we are growing very quickly.
As a bike sharing company the primary challenges are that it is very cap heavy. This means that we have to buy all the bikes. In China, Bluegogo and other bike sharing companies came up with a pretty clever scheme to fund bikes from user deposits. However, that is not a very sustainable model. That is why you see some of the similar competitors facing difficulties now.
Other than that I think as someone who has done mobile games and other online startups. This bike sharing startup is actually kind of unique. Because it is so operationally heavy. We are more like running a traditional offline business than an online company. We have local taxes, warehouses, we have people on the ground, so it is more like running a huge McDonald’s chain rather than just an online company. I am a founder who is more familiar with digital. Therefore it has been an interesting transition learning how to run an offline business.
Funding for Spin.
My funding strategy has been pretty unique I think. I raised a venture capital fund prior to starting the startups to get a better insight into how that situation works. It all started with building my network in Silicon Valley through Y-Combinator and being a part of many Demo Days and looking to pay it forward and do a lot of good favors for companies and investors too. So when the time came when I needed funding for my startup, we were quickly able to raise financing rounds because I was able to over the years build trust in people.
We are a unique industry, one of the things that attracted me to this product was the fact that our product has a unique characteristic of being self-advertising. We hardly spend on marketing except for putting bikes in high traffic locations. So I think every industry or every product, the key is thinking smartly about how to unfairly or very cheaply acquire a boatload of users is very critical.