Mike's E Bikes
Nova Scotia, Canada
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Inspiration often strikes without notice, and it can be very powerful. For example, Mike van Zutphen was hit with inspiration while on a trip with his nephew and brought what he learned home to start his own e-bike rental business. With the help of his brother-in-law, he was able to set up his company with Booqable and had an incredible first season renting out e-bikes.
E-bikes have seen an upward trend across Europe but are only just starting to make waves in North America. Mostly you will see them in the bigger cities like New York and Vancouver, but they are yet to catch on in smaller towns and provinces. This leaves a gap in the market that budding entrepreneurs can fill.
In the summer of 2020, Mike van Zutphen took a trip to British Colombia with his nephew to go mountain biking. He describes his nephew as a “motocross kid,” but Mike felt like the usual bikes used wouldn’t be suitable for him. They decided to go to a bike shop and buy a fat tire e-bike that would be suitable for Mike and capable of exploring the bike trails.
He spent the summer exploring the mountains around British Columbia and found himself falling in love with his e-bike. One day, he had dreams of his home in Nova Scotia, which has one of the province’s most famous bike trails directly across from his driveway. Mike wanted to bring the experience he had in British Colombia to his hometown.
Mike is an equipment operator in pipeline construction, so he is used to working with heavy machinery. The idea of running an e-bike rental business is quite different from what he has done for the past 30 years. However, he was able to spend some time planning his new venture and was sure he could bring the e-bike experience to Nova Scotia.
The following Spring, he did just that. He invested in four of the same e-bikes he had been riding all summer and shortly after ordered four more. He constructed a shed at the end of his driveway, and he was almost ready to start his e-bike rental business. He even shot some hilarious videos containing comedy skits to advertise on social media.
Setting up software
While getting everything ready to start his business, Mike realized that he would need a way to accept and manage bookings. Being less knowledgeable about technology, he turned to his brother-in-law for help with software. After trying a few different pieces of rental software, he settled on Booqable as the backend and frontend of Mike’s E-Bikes.
He chose Booqable because it provided all the requirements for operating his rental business while being easy to use - even for someone unfamiliar with the technology. He now runs his rental business from his iPad and was able to get used to it very quickly alongside the process of serving customers.
Mike is also pleased with how his website looks and loves the clean, professional feel he has achieved. Most of his customers are from other parts of Canada and even America, so having online bookings was vital to his business. He reports that they all loved that it was so easy to make a booking and pay online.
A great first summer
In the summer of 2021, Mike took a few months off his primary job to run the rental business full-time during the high season. He is thankful that the season wasn’t as busy as it could’ve been, which gave him a chance to learn the ropes. In addition, this gave him a chance to get used to using Booqable and the day-to-day operations.
Despite being what Mike would call a “slow” summer, he still had over 850 customers between June and October. Some days, there were as many as 24 bookings meaning his was booked solid, and whenever someone would return their bike, there was already someone else ready to take their bike.
After the success of his first season, Mike decided that this was something he’d like to do every summer. So he plans to double his e-bike fleet by summer 2022 and hopefully bring the experience to even more customers. This expansion includes different kinds of e-bikes to give customers more choice over how they wish to explore the trails of Nova Scotia.