Bunch Bikes Founder Aaron Powell went on vacation with his family three years ago and visited Copenhagen, Denmark and Malmo, Sweden. His family chose those locations because they are very bike-friendly cities, and they were interested in biking. While he was in those locations, Powell noticed there was a cargo bike (defined by one website as any bike designed to carry a load), family bike or something similar on “almost every single street corner,” he told PYMNTS in an interview.
Powell wanted to get one of those specialty bikes for this own personal use. But when his family returned stateside, he noticed there were very few options other than having someone custom-make or import one. He ended up starting his own company with the goal of tailoring the bike for the U.S. market. For example, Powell had to make the bikes electric, as people are riding up hills in areas like San Francisco. (Bunch Bikes does offer electric and non-electric models.)
So far, Bunch Bikes has focused on “larger bikes for larger families,” Powell said. Its original flagship model can hold one to four kids. He is finding that customers who buy the bike have two, three or four young kids under six. Without the specialty bike, there wouldn’t be a way for the entire family to ride together without each parent pulling a bike trailer behind them. With Bunch Bike’s solution, “one parent can effectively replace one of their cars” and still do everything they need to do around town, Powell noted.
Bunch Bikes also recently launched a six-seater preschool bike in school-bus yellow. The company markets those bicycles to daycares, small preschools and small family-owned centers that can use a couple of the bikes to take a class on a field trip. The company uses accessories to make the original bike dog-friendly, and it collaborated with another organization to offer a limited-edition bike for dogs. However, the company will soon put out its own dog-focused model, as Powell noted that a surprising number of customers want to ride with their dogs.
The Philosophy and Market
Powell said the company’s mission is to make the most family-friendly bicycle possible. That means outfitting them with as many accessories as it can, such as toddler seats and sunshades, “to make the bike comfortable and give it utility and function that is beneficial for a family.”
In terms of marketing, Powell noted that there is a very small number of people looking for these types of bikes. A big driver of traffic is Google Adwords, but that is just a tiny portion of the company’s target market. As Powell noted, if people interested in family bikes knew about companies like Bunch Bikes, they would be all over it.
The company has been active on social media. Much of its first year’s marketing efforts were driven primarily by Instagram networking, using appropriate hashtags to reach its target market. Bunch Bikes ultimately found a niche market in parents of twins, triplets and quadruplets. As the company grows in 2020, it is focusing on bigger media, magazine publications and online reviews.
The company has also been connecting existing customers with new shoppers. For example, if a potential customer from Portland, Oregon, wants to try out a bike before buying one, Bunch Bikes would connect him or her with an existing owner. (An outdoor furniture company, Outer, takes a similar approach in connecting existing customers with shoppers through neighborhood showrooms.) Powell noted that almost everyone who buys the bike is proud of their purchase and happy to share their experience with others.
If customers want to buy a cargo bike directly from Bunch Bikes, the company has an eCommerce website powered by Shopify. Customers can select the bike they want to purchase and check out. The company accepts PayPal, Amazon Pay and Google Pay as well as credit cards. It also offers financing through Klarna. The bike comes fully assembled – the customer doesn’t have to do “anything other than unpack the bike when it arrives,” Powell said.
Through eCommerce and digital payment options, direct-to-consumer innovators like Bunch Bikes are helping parents in the U.S. tote their kids (or their pets) around town with cargo bikes.