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Social Bicycles Founder Ryan Rzepecki Taps Into Global Bike Share Trend

Learn how Ryan Rzepecki aims to make the international appeal of bike sharing a U.S. way of life and why he believes you must find a business idea...

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Best Success Story

We have three contracts and we just won our fourth major contract this year. This spring, we launched 40 bikes in San Francisco at the airport for employees. In Sun Valley, Idaho we have an 18-bike system that we’re developing with a public transit agency. In Buffalo, New York we’re working with a small non-profit car share to launch 75 bikes. They already have about 15 cars in their fleet and we’re going to do 75 bicycles.

So our business model [is based on the idea that we] sell to independent operators and they set up and manage the networks and take on the end user subscribers. So those are our first three and we recently won a contract for 300 bikes for the city of Tampa, Florida.

Source: Courtesy photo, Bikesbelong.org
Source: Courtesy photo, Bikesbelong.org

 

Biggest Startup Challenge

[pullquote align=”right”]Figuring out how to move the project forward with limited resources is challenging because it’s hard to get initial funding. [/pullquote]Figuring out how to move the project forward with limited resources is challenging because it’s hard to get initial funding. They (i.e. investors) want to see a significant amount of progress before they fund.

So how do you get the funding to get to those milestones where you can raise money? It requires being really creative and working really hard in finding the right people to push something along without the resources in the beginning stages.

Another challenge is decision making; I think we’ve done well at making tough decisions.

When we finished the first prototype of a bike lock box attachment we knew that it wasn’t going to be a good final solution. So though we invested a lot of time and money in that direction we were willing to walk away from it to make something better.

That’s always a tough thing to do; to know when it’s time to change course or to take something as a sunk cost and go in a different direction. I think we’ve been good at making those tough decisions and always looking at the long-term for the product and making sure our short-term choices support our long-term goals.

 

#1 Tip for Entrepreneurs

The bottom line is you have to find an idea that you absolutely love because there’s so much about building a business that is difficult, not fun and generally sucks.

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The bottom line is you have to find an idea that you absolutely love because there’s so much about building a business that is difficult, not fun and generally sucks.

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The only way you can push through that is if you’re doing something you really love, believe in, feel compelled to create, and that you need to put this into the world. You have to love what you’re doing and everything else will follow.

If you’re just doing it because you just want to start a business and you’re just filling out ideas on a napkin just because you want to start a business, it’s going to be hard to sustain that passion. I think it’s just finding something you believe in.

The second piece is the people.

Really love the problem you’re trying to solve, and really love the people that you’re working with to solve that problem, because those are the only two things that will stay in the company. Every early-stage company has amazing highs and incredibly awful lows. The only thing that will pull you through the lows is the love of the company and the love of the employees, coworkers and co-founders that you’re working with.

Connect with Social Bicycles on Twitter.

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