Five minutes with: oBike

In our latest series, we’re getting to grips with the brands that you deal with every day. The ‘Five minutes with’ series will present a company with five short, sharp and to-the-point questions about who they are and what they do. This week we’re joined by Haroon Khan, UK lead at oBike.

Can you tell us the history of the company?
oBike was created in Singapore out of a passion to create an alternative and viable mode of transportation to solve the traffic woes in the city. A group of entrepreneurs put their heads together and came up with this idea of a carbon emission-free solution for a sustainable transportation that was different from the current public bike-sharing schemes. In order to be innovative, the founders knew they had to create something smarter and hassle-free, and so the oBike dock-less bicycle-sharing platform was born. oBike has been growing really rapidly, since its creation in January 2017 in Singapore the company now operates across in over 35 cities across 15 countries.

What are you ultimately trying to achieve?
To increase the uptake of cycling in cities and towns around the world whilst also reducing the amount of single owned bikes on the streets. We want to provide an alternative mode of transport that is greener, more flexible for the user, which reduces single ownership, and creates social equity. We want to work with governments towards more car-lite cities and towns, help stimulate cycling as a mode of transport with our services, and help build better cycling ways based on the sharing of our aggregated data.

What gives you an edge over other brands in the industry?
As the London councils and cities in the UK are being introduced to the concept of dock-less bike sharing it is important that all companies operating in this sphere work towards a positive image of the business model together. oBike has learn its lessons from its initial launch in London and is fully committed to cooperate and liaise with the authorities to ensure it sets an example for the dock-less bike sharing market.

The company differentiates itself through continuously listening and engaging with its customers and stakeholders, and adopting its business model and product to reflect this feedback. In the UK, we will now only enter a city or council through a staggered approach where we will grow with the demand of the users. Furthermore, oBike’s commitment to community and local resourcing is unique. oBike wants to ensure that its operations stimulate the local economy and is fully integrated into the community.

What innovations in the industry are exciting you at the moment?
The innovation in technology and business models that allow us to improve our product, allowing us to be further embedded into the large ecosystem and infrastructure around transportation. For example, the development of the Mobility as a Service is one we closely follow, as it will allow oBike and other transport operators to provide the traveller with a one-stop service. MaaS allows for more efficient and integrated way to travel, hosting all operators on to a unified gateway together. In terms of technology, we are looking at the new no-puncture wheels, next generation GPS and Bluetooth systems to have even further accuracy on riders’ data and making geofencing simpler and more accurate.

Furthermore, the increased usage and interest in e-bikes is one we are excited about, as it will allow us to provide our service to an even wider demographic and topography. With the increased interest in the e-bike also comes more policy creation around the standards and needs for charging stations, which we will follow closely. oBike is developing an eBike, which we will look to test in our markets in Southeast Asia in the next year, we look forward to exploring this model in Europe afterwards.

What does the future hold for the company?
We foresee further growth of the company, but growth done through the embedding of dock-less bike sharing in the countries’ cycling eco-systems versus just an increase of the number of bikes on the streets. This means that citizens in cities and towns have a sense of ownership of the dock-less bikes they use, that we are integrated in the communities, we are part of government ran cycling schemes, and ultimately shape the way cycling routes are laid out based on the aggregated data we can provide from the routes our users take.

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