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Thursday, April 20, 2017, 14:30

HK entrepreneur launches bike-sharing app

By Duan Ting

Inspired by booming development of bicycle-sharing businesses in the Chinese mainland, Raphael Cohen, chief executive and co-founder of Gobee.bike, launched the first bicycle-sharing system in Hong Kong on Wednesday.

Cohen took just two months to go from an idea to a startup-company reality. He said he travels to the Chinese mainland frequently and a couple of months ago: “I was visiting the mainland and saw the bicycles at streets. And I thought there is something to do and I would like to bring and develop the concept in Hong Kong and the rest of the world.”

Cohen saw very high growth potential for the bicycle-sharing business which has challenged certain markets. Cohen saw high potential in Hong Kong despite public areas available for cycling being limited.

Compared with the business model of mainland bicycle-sharing companies such as OfO and Mobike, Cohen pointed out that Gobee.bike was similar but they will focus on more mature markets like Hong Kong where facilities are better built.

HK entrepreneur launches bike-sharing app
Gobee.bike launched the first bicycle-sharing system in Hong Kong on April 19, 2017. (Duan Ting)

Hong Kong’s first bicycle-sharing system launched with over 1,000 smart bikes painted bright green spread out across key locations in the New Territories including bike-friendly districts like Sha Tin, Tai Po and Ma On Shan.

Cohen expected the number of bikes to reach 20,000 by July this year and Gobee.bike aims to cover most areas in Hong Kong – including Kowloon, Hong Kong Island, Discovery Bay and Park Island – by the end of this year.

Cohen said customers needed to pay a deposit of HK$399 (US$51.31) and sign a contract first through the brand’s mobile application which is currently only available on Android phones; the IOS version is expected to be launched soon. A customer would locate the nearest bicycle through an interactive map. Cyclists need to unlock the bright green bikes they find on the street by scanning a unique QR code. They can park the bike at any designated public area. Gobee.bike’s colleagues will handle management of the bikes.

Gobee.bike charges customers HK$5 per half hour and payments can be made directly through the mobile application by linking a credit card, the company says.

Cohen said the company has already finished the C seed round of investment and the round was led by Swiss Founders Fund, Cocoon Ignite Ventures, Lastminute.com group’s founder and chairman Fabio Cannavale, Lamivoie Capital and Goldman Sachs alumni as well as individual investors.

Cohen said he had two other partners for this business and they had already established a team of 15 colleagues.

HK entrepreneur launches bike-sharing app
Residents expirence bike-sharing service launched by Gobee.bike in Sha Tin, Hong Kong, April 19, 2017. (Duan Ting/China Daily)

It’s not the first company Cohen has started. Prior to Gobee.bike, Cohen was the co-founder of HotelQuickly and Foodpanda.com. “I have been in various vertical startup businesses. I like to run new things which could be different things but by using similar knowledge like on management and operations,” said Cohen.

The company aims to extend its reach on a global scale over the next two to three months after the launching in Hong Kong.

tingduan@chinadailyhk.com

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