By @SimonCocking interview with Eanna Lalor, Head of Digital at Urbo

Describe the company – the elevator pitch …

Urbo is an Irish company, with a fusion of expertise in technology and bikes. Urbo collaborates with councils to offer a dockless bike sharing service to fulfil the needs of people’s short distance travel.

The Urbo system works by users opening an app on their smart phone and selecting a bike off a map, or alternatively by walking up to a bike on the street and scanning a QR code. The app unlocks the bike’s specially fitted wheel-lock. The user is then free to cycle the bike, with a 30 minute journey costing just €0.50/£0.50. Unlike many bike sharing platforms, there are no docking stations, leaving the user the freedom to start and end their journey at any designated bike parking area near their destination. Areas can be ‘geo-fenced’, meaning bikes can only be used and/or locked in designated areas.

Urbo’s team has deep roots in the bicycle and technology industry, along with extensive experience in the area of urban planning. As such, Urbo is driven by the conviction that the best way to promote sustainable and integrated local transit is to offer the most advanced technology and an extremely user-friendly experience.

Urbo prides itself on providing an industry leading service. This ranges from a bike of the highest quality, that is built by cyclists for cyclists, to the safe and regulated management of all user data. With these policies in place, both users and councils can rest assured the Urbo solution will integrate seamlessly into their city, whilst enriching the area itself.

How are you different?

1. Engagement

Urbo’s policy is to engage with councils to open lines of communication and ensure systems are implemented in a sustainable manner, which greatly improves city life. Transport is a crucial element in improving any city or town. By connecting infrastructure, Urbo extends the range of city’s existing transit systems, whilst increasing the viability of other modes.

2. The Urbo Bike

We’re passionate about bikes. Our policy is to produce the world’s leading dockless bike, with numerous ergonomic features. Our bike components are sourced from around the world to ensure we provide a world-class product. Whether it’s our hand grips from Scandinavia or the fact that our Irish bike is designed by cyclists, for cyclists…

3. Data Protection:

Urbo, in partnership with Government and city officials, use data collected to improve transit integration. We provide councils with a rich and customised dashboard for viewing and analysing GPS data, all provided within the most stringent data protection standards.

 Why will the company/product do well?

There is a major problem with urban transport known as the “the last mile” problem. This is where commuters take traditional forms of transports to work, but are still left with some distance to travel before reaching their destination. Urbo solves this problem by providing them with bikes in convenient and user friendly locations. They can pick up their bike virtually anywhere, and park their bike close to work, without having to find docking stations that are potentially full.

Aside from commuting, Urbo will add huge value to leisure and tour activities. Weekend city cycles will be possible for those who don’t own a bike, or don’t wish to use their personal bikes. Most towns and cities have fantastic sites and amenities that are not quite within walking distance. These can range from Universities and stadiums to beaches and tourist hotspots. Urbo gets people where they need to go, and makes getting their safe and enjoyable.

Where are you based?

We’re an Irish company based at the top of O’Connell Street, in the city centre. We’ve just opened our London office and we will be rolling out up to 23 more offices over the next number of months. We currently have staff on the ground in almost all EU member states, as well as further afield in Australasia.

When was the company launched?

The company was launched in May of this year (2017). So we’re relatively new, but making waves to date.

What have been your biggest wins to date?

We’ve been fortunate to have notched up a lot of great wins to date. We have already established an unparalleled team, with a great passion for the company.  Urbo is the first dockless bike sharing system in the world to be accredited by U.K organisation Bike Plus. This was a testament to our bike itself and therefore a great win after spending so much time developing an industry leading smart bicycle.

We are also the first dockless only bike sharing system to join the European Cyclists’ Federations platform. The is platform was set up to ensure the sustainable development of such systems across Europe. So it’s fantastic for us to be asked to work with the ECF on this.

If we were to select one win in particular, it would have to be the feedback we have had from councils across Europe. Our solution and ethos has really resonated with them, resulting in a large number of launches being rolled out over the coming months.

What type of people (market segment) are you trying to attract to your product?

Urbo is really a solution for everyone. We are currently focused on engaging with as many city councils as possible to implement a scheme that will enrich their city and its inhabitants. We also need to attract the bike users themselves. Our mission to provide them with a pleasurable experience each time they use our bikes. They are built with the user in mind in terms of functionality and comfort – plus they look great which helps!

What tips would you give to others looking to build their business?

It’s important to move fast and get things done, but there is a fine line between moving fast and moving too fast. Doing the right thing, is always the right thing to do, and this is echoed throughout our policies. It’s paramount that the service you provide enriches your target market. Pushing a service or product on people when it’s not done in a strategic manner, is a redundant practice.

Tell us about your team?

Where to start! We have an absolutely brilliant team. Every individual is so passionate about what we are building here, and it shows in our work. Each team member has a wonderful skillset and is very tuned in to what’s happening – which makes brainstorming sessions so valuable. We all love what we’re doing, so it almost doesn’t feel like work. From the outside, looking in, it would appear as if we have all drank the kool-aid – but that’s genuinely not the case. I think it’s through a combination of hard work and great leadership that we’ve established a team that is so connected and on the same wave length.

What are your long term plans for your product/company?

Our mission is to connect and move people. Right now we see dockless bike sharing as the best way of doing that. After all, bikes are what we know. In the future, who knows how people will get from A to B. Our ambition at present is to make the Urbo the world’s best dockless bike sharing system – but we certainly won’t be stopping there.

What are your favourite tech gadgets?

I think I’m going to have to give the boring answer here, and say my iPhone. It literally organises every facet of my day. Although, I did recently jump on the smartwatch bandwagon and it’s great. Especially for taking a quick look at notifications without having to take my phone out. On the other hand, it’s constantly telling me how lazy I am!

What tech gadgets do you wish you could use to help you?

Our engineers and developers have done a great job in utilising the latest technology to make our solution as advanced and integrated as possible. That said, we’re always looking for new opportunities to make the user experience even better.

Anything else you’d like to add/we should have asked?

When will you be seeing Urbo bikes on the streets?

Although we can’t give too much away – we have a number of pilot schemes launching over the coming months, so very soon.

How do people get in touch with you?

The best way to reach out to the Urbo team is by dropping us a mail at [email protected]. We’re also extremely active on social media, so you can find us by searching Urbo on Facebook and Linkedin, and @myurbo on Instagram and Twitter.

If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking

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