Edibikes: Custom Made Bikes for the Philly CommuterBy Peak Johnson |
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Riding a bike in the city is becoming an increasingly popular mode of transportation — but for if you haven’t ridden a bike since childhood, even walking into a bike shop can be more than intimidating.
Edibikes wants to help change that sentiment and get more people biking.
An urban commuter-bike company, Edibikes was established by Jason Hoover and Sandeep Gopal this past March in Philadelphia. Their goal is to get more people commuting in the city with bikes instead of driving cars.
Hoover and Gopal were graduate students of the Engineering Design and Innovation Program at Northwestern University in Chicago when first stumbling upon the idea.
“We are engineers and designers by training and were interested in building products with a focus on sustainability,” Gopal said. “At the same time, as students we were always strapped for cash and were looking for convenient ways to get around Chicago without a car.”
A bike company geared toward mainstream bike commuters seemed a logical idea to the two. They found out there is no company that specifically builds products for this market and there is a growing interest among students and young professionals in commuting by bike instead of car.
“Bigger brands do have commuter bikes, but they don’t have pride of place in a bike store. And retail stores don’t make a significant profit on a commuter bike,” Gopal added. “We built our bikes for people who always wanted to bike but are not bike experts. A bike store experience can be pretty intimidating for someone who isn’t a ‘biker’ or comfortable with bike terminology.”
Hoover and Gopal believed Philadelphia to be the ideal place to launch Edibikes since Hoover originally hails from Wilmington, Delaware. Another factor, Gopal added, was that Philly has, per capita, the highest number of bike commuters compared to any other city.
Another push that landed them in Philadelphia was an opportunity to accelerate the start-up’s potential for success. Edibikes is one of thirteen companies participating in this summer’s GoodCompany Group — a free, intensive, three-month program focused on social entrepreneurship that finishes up this month.
Rethinking the Customer Experience
Instead of selling their bikes in a bike store, both men decided to bring the “bike store” to their customers. The pair decided to place their custom-made bikes, which retail for $795, at popular local coffeeshops and events and inviting customers to test ride them.
“Coffee shops were a logical choice,” Gopal said, “They get repeat customers and they have a relaxed vibe that is conducive to checking out a bike in a no pressure environment.”
“We are planning several test ride events across the city in the coming weeks. And we are taking orders for pre-sales,” Gopal said. “We are a new company with a new concept. Selling a bike outside of a bike store caught a few folks off guard. And people were skeptical of trying out a new bike since they hadn’t ridden in a while. But once they ride the bike around the block, their reaction is overwhelmingly positive.”
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