Hivebike: Inserting Bikes in the Sharing Economy

This is one in a series of interviews for the 2018 Impact Challenge finalists at Business Today’s 44th International Conference.

Hivebike was developed one year ago by a team of students at Swarthmore College. The project lead, Hunter, first had the idea to found Hivebike after a visit to China, where he was surprised to see how efficient the Mobike program in China was.  Mobike is the world’s largest bicycle share company, and it is a leader in the dockless bicycle share program, in which bikes lock themselves and can be left available for rental by paying users anywhere in a city, not only at specific “docks” or rental stations.

Upon returning to campus, Hunter realized he could adapt this program to tackle an issue countless college students witness at the end of every school year: the waste of unwanted books, furniture, clothing, and even bikes left behind by students graduating school or leaving without extra storage space in their cars. These bikes left behind on college campuses can pose a cleanup issue for the schools, and often are still in good quality or only in need of minor fixes. The mission of Hivebike is restoring bicycles contributed by current students or abandoned around campus to create a bike share program with minimal fixed costs. Hivebike sees its business as the “Next Movement Renaissance” and hopes that their plan will allow them to maintain a more financially and environmentally sustainable bike share company. Head Mechanical Engineer, Nathan, noted that he was inspired by Steve Forbes’s words yesterday on “turning scarcity into supply.” Although there is a demand for faster transportation on college campuses, not many students are willing to invest the money of purchasing their own bicycle.

Hivebike has yet to launch, and the team has been working towards preparing for their pilot launch at Swarthmore College. The team ran an initial survey and found that although most Swarthmore students would use a bike if it were available to them, only 10% of current students have bicycles with them on campus. To them, this highlighted the potential demand for their service. In the future, they hope to begin marketing their initiative to campus Offices of Sustainability at other schools, who will be responsible for funding the bike program to make it available to their students. The biggest challenges facing Hivebike as they plan to move into Swarthmore and beyond include the competition from other companies such as Zagster, and maintaining their model of recycling and reusing without falling behind other firms incorporating technological advancements in electric bicycles and scooters. Ultimately, they believe their lower costs and the social good provided by their product will set them apart.

Hunter concluded: “If we rely on only current solutions and the bike shares that we see today, what will happen is that companies will continue mass producing bikes without using existing resources that can be recycled and used again. The bikes will simply go to unused and we think we can solve both problems of pairing students to transportation and reducing waste on campus.”