The sharing economy has hit various industries in full force over the last few years, from cars to vacation rentals and more.
One of the more popular areas of the sharing economy has been borrowing bicycles. In larger U.S. cities, like Boston and New York City, borrowing bicycles a la Hubway has become the norm for people wanting a fast way to commute around town.
One company that’s looking to take the bike borrowing industry by storm is startup company LimeBike. The San Mateo, California-based company, which seeks to expand a Chinese style of bike sharing, just announced a $12 million round of venture funding, with plans to expand in the U.S.
Investors in this round were led by Andreessen Horowitz with IDG Ventures and DCM Ventures, as well as a few other unknown investors.
What Chinese-style bike sharing means is that it’s done through GPS-enabled bikes without any designated kiosks. Bikes are located through a mobile app and then users will use a specific QR code to unlock and lock on return.
LimeBike’s Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO, Toby Sun, commented on the company’s experience and why he thinks it will be a success: “Our team has tons of experience working at high-tech companies like Facebook, Square and Tencent. We know what it takes to get the app right and to make products that work for the U.S. market in general. But we have also spent time with the services in China and can see what will work and won’t work for big cities that want to increase bike use and decrease traffic.”
One of the more interesting facets of LimeBike is that it will gather data on bike usage to paint a better picture of the advantages of bike-over-car use. This will undoubtedly be seen as a plus among bike advocates.