Some of you may may remember when Apple or Uber first hit the market. They were radical and a little unknown, but nonetheless exciting. Well, we want to introduce you to Riide, the super cool electric bike that’s making a big splash in both San Francisco and Washington DC. We have a great gut feeling that this brand will be part of our future… prepare yourself! The Boomcast team had the pleasure to meet co-founder Amber Wason and her Riide bike at our San Francisco office. The bike was smooth, sexy, fun and resulted in a ton of smiles. In fact Amber even said after we hopped off the bike with a beaming grin, “That’s one of my biggest joys in life, seeing my customer's smile after their first Riide experience.” Amber’s passion to contribute to a healthier world through her company is truly admirable. We sat down with her to talk about her journey so far.
Q: RUNNING A STARTUP IS CHALLENGING, BUT EXCITING. WHAT HAVE BEEN YOUR TOUGHEST AND MOST REWARDING MOMENTS SO FAR?
A: There are too many tough and rewarding moments to choose from, as running a startup is such a rollercoaster of emotions. The tough times are never one moment of bad news (that's par for the course) but rather those sustained times of no action, where you feel like you are working and working, and nothing is happening. That was winter of 2015 for me, working to build and deliver our first production run of bikes. We were in a large, cold and dark warehouse and for several months there was setback after setback that caused delays in shipping. It took a lot of grit to keep our heads down and persevere. However that was followed by one of my most rewarding moments so far. It wasn't the shipping of the first bikes, for whatever reason. But I have this vivid moment of shipping the last bikes of that production run. They were going to Canada, and I had worked tirelessly to figure out international shipping of a hazardous material, and stayed late one night at the warehouse to wait for UPS and see the bikes off. As I took a photo of the bikes leaving to post on social media, I had this very surreal feeling. Like, woah, we have a product that we designed, built, and are now shipping internationally. It was a pretty proud moment.
Q: HOW DID YOU INITIALLY COME UP WITH THE CONCEPT OF RIIDE?
A: My co-founder had been in China for his then job and saw ebikes everywhere. When he got back, he was genuinely curious about the electric bike market as the industry was emerging in the states, but nobody seemed to have heard about them. He started reaching out to people in the transportation industry and a mutual friend introduced us. (I have a background in transportation, having helped popularize car sharing at Flexcar through their merger with Zipcar). I was fascinated by the concept of ebikes because I lived on the highest point in DC and often biked one-way to work to avoid the hills coming home. We started meeting on the weekends to explore the market, and ultimately decided there was a huge need for a different approach to the technology, and we were the ones to do it.
Q: IT’S CLEAR THAT RIIDE PLANS TO REDUCE CO2. HOW ELSE DOES RIIDE CONTRIBUTE TO A HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT?
A: Cities are becoming increasingly populated and congested, and two-wheeled, light electric vehicles, in our opinion, are going to solve that problem. Also, it's healthy for our Riiders who spend more time outdoors and being active.
Q: A MONTHLY COST OF $79 IS UNIQUE COMPARED TO A ONE TIME PURCHASE. WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO CREATE A MONTHLY CHARGE?
This was entirely inspired by listening to our customers. We had been selling the bikes outright for about a year, but not at the rate we needed to be selling to truly make an impact. We knew we were missing something, that we hadn't yet figured out the key to mass market adoption. So we started talking to our customers and potential customers. Suddenly it became apparent that people are accustomed to paying for transportation on a monthly basis, so while they could rationalize the cost of the bike over time, most people saw it as a purchase that they would need to save up for or ask for as a gift -- not a spontaneous purchase. We launched a private beta for RiidePass (our monthly subscription service) over the summer of 2015 and saw our conversions increase 10X overnight. We then launched to the public in the fall and were off to the races.
Q: WHERE IS RIIDE AVAILABLE?
A: We launched in DC. SF will officially launch at the end of the summer. Next year we'll begin expanding to other major US cities. No plans for international expansion just yet, but we get requests from all over the world regularly and do see Riide bikes in every corner of the world some day soon ;)
Q: AND NOW, A RANDOM BUT ALSO IMPORTANT QUESTION: WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FUNNY ANIMAL VIDEO?
A: Can't say that I have a favorite, but I'm pretty in love with GoPros new ad aboutBella.
Forget bus passes, parking tickets and Uber rides. For a much healthier, fun and affordable experience, you can try Riide for $79 per month. We’re proud of Amber’s passion and determination to contribute to a healthier world. You can learn more about Riide here.