MARKETS & INVESTING | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong

Meet the entrepreneur who introduced Hong Kong's first bike-sharing service

Around 1,000 smart bicycles are currently available in the New Territories area.

Gobee.bike is Hong Kong’s first bicycle-sharing service. It makes use of a smartphone application, currently available for Android devices, supported by a cloud-based system and GPS that allows users to locate, rent, and drop off bicycles anytime.

"Gobee.bike is different from many other bicycle-sharing systems across the globe as it is station-free. Users can drop off their bicycles at any legal public space without the restriction of fixed bicycle stations," says founder Raphael Cohen. He says 1,000 smart bicycles are currently available in the New Territories area – Sha Tin, Tai Po, and Ma On Shan, specifically.

Cohen is a serial entrepreneur who grew up in Paris. He has lived in Hong Kong for six years, and also lived before in Toronto, Shanghai, Singapore and Ho Chi Minh City. He is the CEO & Co-Founder of Gobee.bike, the former Co-Founder and CSO of HotelQuickly, Asia’s largest last-minute hotel booking app, as well as the former Co-Founder and MD at Foodpanda.com

He says he started the business because in Hong Kong, storing bicycles at home and renting one are both inconvenient. "There were also no 24/7 bike-rental services, so many locals were not able to ride bicycles after work hours," Cohen notes. "But with Gobee.bike, people can locate our bicycles that are near them through our app, rent them at any time of the day, and drop off the bicycles at their destinations."

Gobee.bike, he also notes, is a convenient service for Hong Kong. Instead of taking the bus or trains for short trips, locals can now opt to ride bicycles at only HK$5/half hour. "It is also a healthier and a more environmental-friendly option as users can exercise on their commutes while reducing carbon emission," he notes.

Cohen was inspired by the bike-sharing services in Shanghai and Paris and thought it would be a good service to introduce to Hong Kong. In terms of help with funding, he says the Swiss Founders Fund; Cocoon Ignite Ventures, Lastminute.com group's Founder & Chairman Fabio Cannavale, Lamivoie Capital, Goldman Sachs alumni as well individual investors have all invested in Gobee.bike. It has also received lots of interest from other investors.

Gobee.bike has raised a seed round of funding from VCs and angel investors, in order to build-up a proof of concept in Hong Kong and set-up their whole team, says Cohen. They are also in the process of raising USD80 million of funding for global expansion.

"We plan to have 20,000 bicycles in Hong Kong by September and cover most areas in Hong Kong by the end of the year," shares Cohen. "We are also launching the iOS version of our app very soon. We also plan to expand into other Asian cities, European countries, and North America with 300,000 bikes by December 2017."

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