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What $45 million in Fresh Funding Means for oBike

This augurs well for the ride-sharing company and sharing economy as a whole

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BY Ezra Ferraz - 23 Aug 2017


PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

oBike, a bike-sharing company based out of Singapore, recently announced a whopping $45 million Series B round. The move attests to how well the platform has done in Singapore as well as the potential of the sharing economy in Southeast Asia as a whole.

According to oBike co-founder and CMO Edward Chen, the most difficult part of this round was balancing fundraising with their ongoing operations.

“Discussions on investment matters went on for a few months which intensified in recent weeks. It was challenging as we were also busy expanding our business operations globally,” Chen says.

oBike’s Series B was collected from a variety of investors, including what it calls a global transportation platform; Grishin Robotics, a venture capital firm founded by Dmitry Grishin, the Mail.Ru Group, and several family offices in Southeast Asia.

Chen believes it was the several milestones oBike achieved in the last 7 months that have made them such an attractive target for investors.

“We were awarded best Singapore digital startup-up 2017 by Buro 24/7 Singapore. This is testament that oBike is well-loved by our users in Singapore,” he says, adding that they hope to replicate the same level of success they experienced in Singapore to ensure that bike-sharing is enjoyed by all across the world.

Chen says that the size of their Series B - significant by most measures - is indicative of growing societal interest in both the sharing economy in general and bike-sharing in particular. He believes that this is because cities are realizing that bike-sharing can help accelerate communities toward becoming car-lite societies.

He cites Singapore as an example, one of the countries in which the government is actively pushing for a car-lite society.

“Hence it has been developing its infrastructure, building bike-parking facilities and park connectors to accommodate a larger cycling community through the implementation of the National Cycling Plan. The likelihood of more people adopting cycling as a mode of transportation will definitely be higher with a favorable cycling environment. The potential of bike-sharing is immense under such conditions,” he says.

Other companies in sharing economy have experienced trouble scaling in their respective communities due to security issues, such as users not bothering to return the borrowed product. Chen says they have many features in place to prevent such issues, such as their bike parking location indicators and smart Bluetooth technology that helps improve the location accuracy of their bicycles for tracking purposes.

There is also an element of gamification to encourage conscientious use of oBike.

“We launched the oBike Credits Scoring System in which users will receive 100 credits upon registration. These credits can be increased or deducted according to their actions. Users with higher credits can look forward to enjoying more benefits with us, while users with zero credit will be banned from using our service. For instance, parking indiscriminately will lead to a deduction of 20 credits,” Chen says, adding that they also focus on educating and encouraging public civic-mindedness through ongoing market education with users via different campaigns.

Chen believes there are many industries ripe for disruption by the sharing economy, and innovators in these spaces will ultimately benefit society.

With Internet of Things, the possibilities are limitless. Technology is a huge enabler that has brought on disruptions in many traditional industries that we have since witnessed. In terms of bike-sharing, the data amassed on travel patterns can help to facilitate future town plans towards a model car-lite urban city,” he says.

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