Bike-sharing startups are something of a trend of late, with the likes of China’s Ofo yesterday announcing a $700 million raise and Mobike’s recent mammoth $600 million round to spearhead its global rollout.
In the U.S., LimeBike recently launched out of stealth with $12 million in funding from such notable investors as Andreessen Horowitz. In its short tenure, LimeBike has already made it into Key Biscayne, Florida and Greensboro, North Carolina, though plans are afoot to launch shortly in key cities across California, Indiana, and Washington.
Before all of that, however, LimeBike is announcing a new initiative called the Lime Business Network, which entails the company teaming up with major businesses so they can offer LimeBike’s network of tech-enabled bikes to employees as a perk.
For the uninitiated, LimeBike’s stated mission is to:
…revolutionize mobility in cities and [university] campuses by empowering residents with cleaner, more efficient, and affordable transportation options that improve urban sustainability.
To do so, the San Mateo-based company has built a bunch of lime-green bikes that can be parked and picked up from anywhere, eliminating the need for docking stations.
Moreover, the bikes sport airless tires and internal gears to enhance durability, while the built-in GPS means users can locate the nearest LimeBike through the dedicated mobile app — which they can also use to unlock the bike by scanning a QR code with their smartphone. Each 30-minute block of time costs $1, and the service is primarily aimed at short commutes within cities or large enclosed areas, such as university grounds.
The business of bikes
Though LimeBike is very much targeting the general public, as well as university campuses, the Lime Business Network could go some way toward popularizing the service and garnering some powerful brand recognition. A number of notable companies are on board for the launch, though LimeBike is only offering the feature to businesses with offices in Seattle for now. These include Zulily, WeWork, New Tech Northwest, Galvanize, and EnergySavvy — but we’re told some major blue chip tech companies are also using the service, though their names cannot yet be divulged.
“The Lime Business Network allows us to integrate with the communities we serve in an environmentally conscious and collaborative way,” said Toby Sun, CEO and cofounder of LimeBike. “With leaders such as WeWork and Zulily coming on board, we’re able to serve an industrious segment of Seattle’s population, helping to transform urban mobility radically and responsibly.”
In terms of how it works, LimeBike offers one month’s free access to its bikes, after which LimeBike is open to a variety of funding models. For example, it could work closely with companies to put employees’ commuter dollars toward rides, or it may offer cheaper flat-rate pricing that’s partially subsidized by employers. Companies may even decide to fund the entire program themselves.
“Since our members commute from all over the city and in between multiple WeWork buildings, the ability to pick up and drop off a LimeBike from virtually anywhere is a huge benefit,” added Gina Phillips, WeWork’s director for the northwest region.
Bikes are made available at each company’s offices and in the city, but only employees of the permitted companies can unlock the bikes. LimeBike also manages all maintenance and operation of its bikes.