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Bicycle Sharing Is The New Hot Startup Trend, JoBike Brings It To Dhaka

Bike sharing startup Jobike is finally set to launch its service in Dhaka. The startup will launch its pilot at Jahangirnagar University campus next week and is aiming for a full-fledged launch in August this year.

For those who are not familiar with jobike, it is an on-demand bicycle-sharing service that allows users to make short bike trips within its coverage area for a small fee.

The idea is simple: instead of owning a bike, you can rent a jobike using the jobike app and start your trip. Once done, park it in one of JPS (Jobike Preferred Space) or a legally allowed public space and lock it. The next jobike rider will find and take it from there. Each bike comes with a GPS tracker making it easier to locate a bike.

Jobike aims to build a convenient form of public transportation in Dhaka. For payment, it has a QR code based payment system and a network of agents that enables riders to refill or top-up easily from a jobike agent and make the payment.

Myriad of transportation services have attracted significant VC attention across the globe. Bike-sharing is the latest addition to that trend. The trend first started at scale in China and has soon become a dominant trend in other parts of the world including the US.

A report by the Information says large investors in the US and elsewhere are putting their weight behind bike-sharing companies, thanks to the sky-high valuation of companies like Uber and Lift. Many investors who missed the ride-hailing bus are now pouring money into bike-sharing companies.

Jobike is the first Bangladesh company to launch a bike-sharing service in Dhaka. Co-founded by Mehdi Reza, a former product operations manager at Alibaba Group, the startup did a two-week test run in Cox’s Bazar and claims that it has received great feedback.

This report in the Daily Star says that it initially plans to launch its service at different university campuses in Bangladesh including Dhaka University, Rajshahi University, Chittagong University, Bangladesh Agricultural University in Mymensingh and Islamic University, Bangladesh, in Kushtia. The report also says "the users will be charged Tk 3 for every five minutes", and that the startup has raised investment from Shameem Ahsan, former President of BASIS and the Chairman of e-Generation Group among others.

In order to use the JoBike service, you have to download Jobike app and register. The app will show you nearby dock or bike and once you enter the payment information you will be provided with a QR code to unlock a bike and go to your destination.

There are a lot of reasons to be excited about bike-sharing in Dhaka. It is not only about university campuses, which Jobike targets as its initial market, we are always in need of transport services for short-distance which a bike-sharing service can effectively meet.

If you consider the amount of rickshaw ride you take daily or reluctantly walk to a moderately distant destination, you should see the huge potential of bike-sharing. Probably, it is not far away when you will be biking to your destination.

Source: The Daily Star, Future Startup

Ruhul Kader is a technology and business analyst based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He is also the co-founder and CEO of Future Startup and author of Rethinking Failure: A short guide to living an entrepreneurial life. He writes about internet business, strategy, technology, technology policy, and society. He can be reached at [email protected]

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