BUCCANEERS & E-BIKES
My name is Bill Moore and I've been writing about electric vehicles, from bikes to buses and beyond, to nearly two decades now. It all started because of an early, but ultimately-failed electric bicycle startup that ran a two-page advertisement in BusinessWeek. That ad would lead me to launch EV World in 1997. Now some 20 years later, I've come full circle, so to speak, by launching an electric bicycle enterpirse of my own. It's called Quikbyke and our mission is to introduce as many people as possible to the delight of riding an electric bike.
While anyone can enjoy riding a QUIKbyke, I really created it for aging baby boomers like myself. I still enjoy the pleasure of riding a bicycle and have for more than a dozen years thanks to one key difference: my bicycle benefits from electric-assist. I still pedal my e-bike for the exercise, but when I need help on that hill or against that headwind, I get assistance in the form of a quiet, non-polluting electric motor built into the wheel. And trust me, it makes all the difference in the world. It turns my bike from just another dust-collecting toy I might ride occasionally into a practical and efficient errand-runner. In fact, much of the time my automobile sits and it's the bike I take to the grocer, the bank, the post office, and yes, the pharmacy.
Because I want others to discover the joy and benefits of electric-assisted cycling, I decided the best way is to rent them to folks like myself for a few hours while they're on holiday, or as we say in America, vacation. The idea is that when others discover what I did, they too will come to appreciate there are healthy ways to get around town than always jumping in the car.
As I was preparing to launch QUIKbyke, I read a number of fascinating books on capitalism. Several in particular struck a chord with me: the works of William Greider [The Soul of Capitalism] and Marjorie Kelly [The Divine Right of Capital, Owing Our Future]. I especially became intrigued by the story of John Abrams [The Companies We Keep] and his South Mountain Company on Martha's Vineyard. All of these authors share a common thread: the importance of democratic capitalism as a sustainable business model and management goal.
And curiously enough, as I learned more about the history of the Caribbean and the rivalries between European monarchies, along with their royally-chartered corporations and the freebooting buccaneers who worked for them [The Republic of Pirates], I also discovered that many privateer and pirate crews practiced a surprisingly egalitarian form of democratic socialism . Crews voted on who would be captain, what shares each would earn, and what form of compensation injured sailors would receive. Compared to the often-brutal top-down hierarchy then prevalent in European society, these crews enjoyed an uncommon level of personal freedom, violent though it was at times. That all-too-brief taste of late 17th and early 18th century democracy eventually infilitrated the American colonies, contributing, historians believe, to the founding of the United States of America.
It is that ideal of participatory governance where management is engaged, along with our investors and 'crew members' who make up the company, as well as the community in the pursuit of a financially successful, mission-driven, socially-responsible enterprise. At Quikbyke we believe human creativity is just as important as financial capital and profits are the reward of helping each other achieve our fullest potential. That is the underlying foundation of this exciting endeavor.
With more than two years of preparation, it was time to turn an idea into reality, but to do that I needed money and a team. Fortunately, we found both through a small group of individual investors who also bring decades of technical expertise and business accumen. On the strength of our "story" the Nebraska Department of Economic Development awarded us a 50:50 matching grant, enabling us to start pulling together the hardware and software to create our first semi-mobile, solar-powered, rental kiosk, what we call a Qiosk. Our first container arrived just days before Christmas 2015.
The project time line calls for completion of the prototype unit by early Spring 2016 so we begin consumer and technology testing. Be sure to track our progress on our blogs and news sections.
SUSTAINABILITY = PROFITABILITY
Coincidentally, after launching the original version of the QUIKbyke website (formerly called ePEDALER) on 15 March 2014, I came across
two relevant TED Talks, the first by Chris McKnett entitled "The investment logic for sustainability; and the second by Unilever COO Harish Manwani, Profit's not always the point.
I also discovered a fair and wonderfully transparent way to share equity among our investors and crew members: it's called Slicing Pie. Interestingly and in the context of the 17th century age of buccaneers, legend has it that a Spanish silver dollar, also known as 'piece of eight' could be sliced like pieces of pie to make change. In actual fact, each peso de ocho was worth eight Spanish reales. They became the world's first global coinage and remained legal tender in the United States until 1857.
ePEDALER International, llc
P.O. Box 461132
Papillion, NE 68046
United States of America