A2B Bikeshare’s Smart Bike – Dumb Rack bike-sharing system is positioned on each bike, not the bike rack. Photo via fb.com
A startup bike-renting system has picked up $20,000 more in funding from Start Garden to with the marketplace.
Start Garden, a $15-million seed fund in Grand Rapids, said that its team decided to give A2B Bikeshare the additional funding at its February Update Night yesterday. A2B Bikeshare had already received an initial $5,000 investment from Start Garden.
The startup’s Smart Bike – Dumb Rack system is a combination of hardware and software that includes a touchscreen between a bike’s handlebars, which riders use to pay for the bike.
The touchscreen also gives renters access to navigational maps and guided tours.
The company installs the touchscreen on bikes to create a “smart bike,” which can be locked anywhere rather than at a central kiosk.
A2B said the system can serve as an automated bike-rental system and provide “green transportation alternatives to communities.”
A2B Bikeshare was created by Ansgar Strother, a senior in University of Michigan’s College of Engineering.
Strother said the idea came from an entrepreneurship class, where he discovered that bike sharing was too expensive for communities to afford, not only in up front capital costs, but also operational costs.
Strother said receiving the additional investment from Start Garden is “pretty big,” and he plans on working with the seed fund to get another couple of investors on board to eventually target the country holistically.
“We are very interested in getting our systems into Grand Rapids,” Strother said.
The startup has already started contacting potential partners and Grand Rapids officials.
Strother went on to say that the investment will help A2B Bikeshare “quickly and effectively” become a credible player in the bike-sharing market.
“This will help us really start growing faster,” Strother said. “Make us competitive in a fast-growing marketplace.”
Strother added that the bike-sharing market is expected to grow 67 percent in the U.S. this year.
The growing number of bike-sharing programs is an indication of both demand and competition for A2B Bikeshare, according to Joe Lampen, controller at Start Garden.
“We think their solution to reduce obstacles to market entry is a strong competitive advantage,” Lampen said. “So, yes, we’re pleased to provide additional funding for their next round.”
The number of bike-sharing services worldwide has grown from seven services in 2002 to 497 services available in 2012, according to Statista, an Internet-based statistics company.
People for Bikes also noted that in 2013, more than 30 cities in the U.S. operated advanced “3rd Generation” bike-sharing systems, or systems incorporating modern technology.