Have a sharing economy solution, then you’re on the way to become the next unicorn! If you noticed yellow bicycles parked at LRT station and bus stops in PJ and KL, they are part of a start-up company solution that was introduced as a short distance ride-sharing service in Singapore. The concept first kicked-off and became vastly popular in China.
Meet ofo, a global bike-sharing company, valued at over $2 billion, that began offering riders a convenient, flexible bike-sharing model that rids users of the limitations of docking stations. But what was different compared to regular bike rentals was the app and smart lock technology that allows riders to rent and park bikes anywhere.
Founded in 2014, ofo quickly grew offering 3 billion rides to 100 million users and has now over 8 million bikes in more than 170 cities across seven countries, the service has 25 million transactions daily.
“Station-free bike-sharing was ofo’s pioneering concept that changed the nature of the sharing economy and transportation options in cities across the globe,” said Dai Wei, 26, founder and CEO of ofo. “There is a need for this type of transportation solution worldwide. Our mission is to solve the ‘last mile’ transportation problem in urban areas, and we see immense potential in the U.S. for ofo’s convenient, affordable and low-carbon way of travel.”
In July, ofo announced a global partnership with mobile payment platform Ayden, allowing customers to use one set of payment credentials to pay for rides anywhere that ofo operates worldwide. Users can download the ofo app and scan the QR code to unlock the bike. When the trip is completed, users will be charged $1 for a ride up to one hour. As in all other cities where it operates, ofo will have local, on-the-ground maintenance and management staff to assist with bike parking and repairs.
After receiving permit from the Seattle Department of Transportation to bring 1,000 bicycles to the city’s streets in August as part of a pilot, the request has come in to serve the entire city with an increased fleet. This will be the first entry for the bicycles into US, with a society consciously aware on matters like environment and pollution, ofo can be looking at a market potentially bigger than China.
The ride-sharing app raised $700 million in its Series E funding, led by Alibaba among others.