BorrowBike allows Georgetown college students rent out bikes for the semester, a service solving practical challenges while promoting cycling culture in Washington, DC. This is a discussion with co-founder Boris Nanazashvili on BorrowBike and cycling in the nation’s capital.
Q: What is the concept behind BorrowBike?
A: BorrowBike offers semester-long bike rental packages to college campus communities. Customers get to order their bike online through www.borrowbike.com , pick up the bike at the beginning of the semester and return it at the end, having the freedom to use the bike as if it was their own for a whole semester. The service is built to deliver a healthy and environmentally-friendly recreational option for the student communities.
Q: How did you identify the need for the service?
A: There were two separate reasons. First - when I went on a study abroad trip to France, I saw the exceptional popularity of biking as a default form of everyday transportation, and thought that it would be great to have that in the U.S. Second - Georgetown campus is somewhat isolated from the rest of DC, since it does not have a metro station. So I thought that having a bike on campus would be a good motivator to get out of the campus bubble more often.
Q: How did you raise capital and awareness to jumpstart the pilot stage?
A: BorrowBike is one of 8 teams to reach the final round of national Sparkseed social entrepreneurship competition sponsored by Ashoka's Youth Venture, has won Georgetown Social Entrepreneurship Competition, was featured in a cover page article in Georgetown Business Magazine, and became the inaugural venture sponsored by Compass Partners. Through these fundraising efforts, great partnerships we were fortunate to form with Revolution Cycles and Compass Partners, as well as through investing some personal funds we were able to lift BorrowBike off the ground.
Q: How many students are using BorrowBike? Where is the service available?
A: So far we have had over 60 rental contracts signed over our pilot stage at Georgetown University. There is a lot of demand for the service. We saved a lot of money on marketing, since the demand for the service is so strong that the word of mouth has been the best marketing tool we have had. Our goal is to raise enough capital to expand the service from the pilot program at Georgetown to 15 campus locations nationwide within the next year and a half by partnering with Compass Partners, an organization that promotes social entrepreneurship initiatives on college campuses nationwide. We are planning to expand to George Washington University and American University already this fall.
A: There are a lot of people on campus who enjoy biking but do not have a bike on campus because of the hassle of storing the bike over breaks. This is a common theme across all campuses that we did our market research on. BorrowBike recognizes this problem and includes storage between the semester-long rental periods as part of the service.
Q: How does BorrowBike connect with the broader community?
A: We partner with a prominent DC chain of bike shops called Revolution Cycles to organize bike rides and other bike related events, such as a ride to the Nationals stadium to see baseball games. Upcoming events include recreational rides around North Arlington and Potomac Maryland areas.
Q: Where is your favorite place to ride your bike?
A: My personal favorite is Capital Crescent bike trail along Potomac river bank. It is a beautiful and relaxing ride that goes from Georgetown neighborhood all the way to Bethesda Maryland. Other than that I am a fan of doing errands by bike. A bike just gives you a very particular sense of freedom. Whenever I am on a bike I feel like I am only 10-20 min away from any place I need to swing by.
Q: What if we have more questions?
A: For general inquiries about BorrowBike feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We always welcome new ideas, suggestions or any other kind of feedback you are willing to provide.