90. Pony Bikes

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  • Henry Williams

Founders: Clara Vaisse and Paul-Adrien Cormerais
Founded: May 2017 (launched September 2017)
Website: www.getapony.com

This is the first appearance in the Startups 100 for bike hire app Pony Bikes, but the second for Clara Vaisse.

Sibberi – which Vaisse founded with Mehdi Meghzifene in 2014 – a tree sap-based drink that found favour with top models and fitness fanatics, came in at 65 in last year’s index.

After the start-up was acquired by one of its distributors, Vaisse joined forces with her partner Paul-Adrien Cormerais to turn her attentions to a new venture; Pony Bikes.

Based in Oxford, Vaisse and Cormerais were sick of the “little frustrations of riding a bike in the big city”, such as finding a space to lock up your bike and the risk of having it stolen.

An engineer and computer scientist, Cormerais then spent two years developing a smart lock prototype for shared bikes that would evolve into the technology behind the Pony Bike. This negates the need for a docking station and enables the start-up to sustain itself without institutional funding or government subsidies.

Dubbed “Boris bikes without docking stations”, Pony Bike users just need to download the app to hire a bike for 50p per 30 minutes, which they can then drop off wherever they want.

The bikes are designed to be low-maintenance with puncture free airless tyres and magnetic bike lights that don’t require batteries. The business also uses fleet management with live optimised routes to lower the cost of rebalancing.

More than 12,000 Pony Bike accounts have been created to date, operating across Oxford and the French city of Angers but, according to Vaisse and Cormerais, that’s only the start of Pony Bikes’ story.

Aiming to eventually have bikes in every European city, Pony Bikes doesn’t just see itself as solving a personal transport problem but also having the potential to improve air quality and solve the congestion problem of the UK’s busiest – and most polluted – cities altogether.

Henry Williams

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