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Why This Start-up Wants Indonesians to Ditch Cars

Banopolis wants to shift mindsets about public transport and bike-sharing systems

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BY Ezra Ferraz - 12 Apr 2018

Why This Start-up Wants Indonesians to Ditch Cars

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

While bike-sharing is now one of the most highly contested categories in the on-demand economy, only a few years ago it was still largely unknown. Back in 2012, for example,

Anugrah Nurrewa and his cycling companions were asked by his local community in Bandung to lead a bike-sharing pilot project.

There was one problem.

“We had no clue what bike-sharing was and what its objectives were,” Nurrewa admits.

Despite the group’s lack of familiarity with bike-sharing, they pressed on, and while the project didn’t go as planned, it changed Nurrewa. After thinking more about the transportation situation in Bandung and Indonesia as a whole, he chose to study transportation planning in college.

Upon graduation, Nurrewa founded Banopolis, a tech-based urban and transportation solution start-up.

Changing mindsets

According to Nurrewa, emerging markets like Indonesia are facing urban transportation problems as a result of rapid motorization. As the population grows, citizens turn to private vehicles rather than public transport because the latter severely lacks infrastructure.

As such, Banopolis must encourage Indonesians to move away from their reliance on private cars and toward public transport and solutions like bike-sharing.

Nurrewa says they are trying to shift mindsets by making their user interface as smooth and as localized to the community as possible. For instance, rather than deploying a uniform system to different localities like other bike-sharing start-ups, Banopolis develops a unique bike system for each community.

In 2017, Banopolis began working with the local government unit in Bandung to create the master plan and the design for a system that will include 30 shelters and 270 bike units. It now has 4,000 registered users, a thousand of whom use it every month.

Targeting public transport users

Nurrewa says that the company’s target market for these systems are public transport users, most of whom are currently non-cyclists. The next step, he adds, is promoting a shift from private vehicles to public transport and bike-sharing.

As of now, Banopolis is still mostly a B2B start-up that works with closed-area owners.

For their next project, the company will work with Universitas Indonesia to upgrade its existing bike system. As part of this project, known as Spekun by Bik, Banopolis will provide next generation bikes, each supported by narrowband IoT connectivity supplied by the largest telco in Indonesia, in an effort to increase bike-sharing usage campus-wide.

During the first phase of the Spekun by Bik roll-out, Banopolis will provide Universitas Indonesia with 200 smart bike units.

This phase-in parallels with another gradual change that the Indonesian tech-based urban and transportation solution start-up wants to make. Nurrewa says the company is actively seeking investors and partners as part of its bid to transform itself from a purely B2B provider to include a B2C component.

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