Cycle.land: Agne Milukaite
Attempting to disrupt a $6 trillion market, Startups talks to Agne Milukaite about her 'Airbnb for bikes' and nationwide expansion plans
Tell us what your business does:
Cycle.land connects people with bikes. We are a social marketplace for bike sharing. Our mission is to make bikes easily available and affordable to everyone everywhere. We unlock the assets of unused bikes.
At the core, we are a peer-to-peer bike sharing community, like Airbnb for bikes. We provide a platform which makes it easy for anyone to share their bike.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
New technologies and ideas are disrupting the way people use cars. But as a society, we are in trouble if innovation is solely focused on cars. I wanted to create a company focused on shared bike mobility that is at least as disruptive as car/ride sharing companies.
Amsterdam and Copenhagen today offer a glimpse at the future of urban mobility everywhere. Just like there, the majority of short trips in urban areas will be made on bikes. Shared bike mobility is the next great disruptor in urban mobility.
Cycle.land will make bikes easily available and affordable everywhere which ultimately will lead to many more bicycle journeys.
I wanted to build a company that will be great for the environment, health and happiness!
How did you know there was a market for it?
Did you know that the global mobility market is valued at $5 to $6 trillion per year (excluding air travel)? That’s a huge market to tap into!
Short trips (30-minutes-by-bike-range) in urban areas are increasingly made on bikes. Cyclists will outnumber car drivers entering Central London in rush hour during the next few years. And that is a global trend.
Bike sharing in all shapes and forms has been the fastest growing mode of transport globally over the past ten years. The success of the Santander bikes in London is just one example.
There are a lot of unused bikes that could generate income. We launched in Oxford and we estimate that each year in Oxford alone £25m are wasted with bikes standing unused. There is a strong demand for bike sharing. In just three months, we have established a liquid, fast growing bike sharing market in Oxford.
What were you doing before starting up?
After graduating from my master’s at University of Oxford, I worked for a Canadian home robotics company that was expanding into the USA market. It was a great learning opportunity! I realized that I wanted to start my own business and moved back to Oxford to launch Cycle.land.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
After finishing my master’s in Oxford I worked for a start-up in Berkeley and got hooked! I came back to the UK to run my own business. It’s been an amazing adventure!
How did you raise the money?
In March 2016, Cycle.land secured support from Oxford University Innovation. We launched after a two-month incubation. Since launching in Oxford, we've created a vibrant bike sharing community with 100% growth month on month and have generated revenues of more than £20k.
We're ready to expand to Cambridge, Bristol, Brighton, Edinburgh, East London. We're preparing to fundraise through the equity crowdfunding platform Seedrs to fund that expansion and have already committed investors excited about this opportunity!
As a social marketplace, we believe that equity crowdfunding is the best way to go as it gives our community and fans the chance to own the platform.
Describe your business model and how you make money:
At the moment all Cycle.land members enjoy a freemium service. We are focused on growth and will only charge transaction and sponsoring fees next year. We do charge service fees for each campus/ community bike scheme administered.
In total, Cycle.land has generated revenues of more than £20,000 in the past three months.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
The most important lesson I learned is the importance of reaching out to people. They will steer you towards other like-minded people. Use that to your benefit and create a community around you.
Cycle.land is very lucky to have two important mentors Roy Azoulay and Andrea Alunni at Oxford University Innovation have both been very important in helping us have a great start.
What was your first big breakthrough?
At this point we had different breakthroughs: first pitch, first BBC mention, first paying client, first transaction… There are so many “firsts” in a start-up! We celebrate each one of them.
This month we had our first meeting at the Oxfam HQ and their team couldn’t have been more enthusiastic about partnering up with Cycle.land! They see the vision and what we are trying to achieve with Cycle.land and are super excited about taking part. It is great to have supporters at this early stage who invite us into their home and become enthusiasts immediately.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Worry less, create more! I have a feeling that today in almost every community there are people who are interested in starting new ventures.
You never know where the opportunities will come from. We received a lot of local support from Oxford and beyond. I was really excited when Cycle.land was recognised as one of ConnecTVT’s top 50 Game Changers in the Thames Valley earlier this summer.
Where do you want to be in five years' time?
Our roadmap is to expand to Cambridge, Bristol, Brighton, Edinburgh and East London later this year. Next year, we want to expand to the rest of the UK and then to Europe, the U.S and China!
Our vision is to become the global platform for shared bike mobility, connecting people with bikes anywhere in the world. We aim to achieve that within five years.