Topic: Business 15 Oct 2016
Author: Neil Cubley

Startup awards 2017: Locks to lockers

Louise Murphy Cyc-lok

Louise Murphy at Pearse Station Dublin. Photo: Naoise Culhane.

3 MIN READ

Stephen and Louise Murphy are both keen cyclists. But, like many cyclists, every time they left their bikes chained up somewhere they used to worry that, despite locking them securely, they might return to find them gone.

And, unfortunately, the figures suggest they’re right to be worried. As more and more people ditch the car and cycle – for good reasons like economy, health and sustainability – more and more bikes are being stolen. And, with the popularity of electric bikes, having a bike stolen can be an increasingly expensive loss.

It’s frustrating and, up until recently, it seemed like an inevitable fact of a cyclist’s life. But does it have to be this way?

 

Cyclists view bike theft as an unwelcome part of bike ownership.

Locked bikes near Stephen’s Green, Dublin. Photo: Neil Cubley.

The facts speak for themselves

According to figures published in 2015, bike thefts have increased by 167% since the Bike to Work scheme first launched in 2009. In Dublin alone, 168 bikes were reported stolen in the three months between January and March 2015. And those are just the reported cases. Many bike owners don’t even bother to report the loss of their bike perhaps feeling that the likelihood of getting it back is so  low.

 

Bike theft in Ireland.

Seriously? Single locked wheel near Stephen’s Green, Dublin. Photo: Neil Cubley.

A bigger idea, not a bigger lock

Stephen and his wife Louise felt there had to be a better way to enjoy cycling and preventing theft than simply using bigger locks. So they set up Cyc-Lok to create a safe and secure place for cyclists to leave their bike and their belongings – helmet, waterproofs, footwear, bags and gloves – in sturdy individual lockers. Cyc-lok won the Sustainable category at the Bank of Ireland Startup Awards 2016.

Simple, safe & dry

How it works is simple. Cyclists book and pay for a space in a locker for a set time using the Cyc-Lok app on their smartphones or the website. In return, they get a unique PIN code sent to their phone and use it to open their locker. The lockers are weatherproof, available 24 hours a day and alarmed (Cyc-lok can alert cyclists if anyone tampers with their locker). The Cyc-Lok lockers are also modular making it simpler to arrange them to suit the space available – twelve lockers fit in one car parking space.

Cyc-lok won Bank of Ireland's Startup Awards for Sustainable Business.

Cyc-lok lockers, Pearse Station, Dublin. Photo: Naoise Culhane.

From Cork to California

After sealing a deal to provide lockers to a large tech company based in Cork, Stephen and Louise decided to spend two months in Silicon Valley, where Facebook recently spent $250,000 on electric bikes for their staff, to see if their solution appealed to large, high tech companies. As Louise explains:

“We met with all the large tech companies, spoke to the cities of San Francisco and Paolo Alto and all the bike commissioners.”

They heard, first hand, about infrastructure projects such as creating networks of cycle paths and bike rental stations in a drive to get more people to use bikes to get to work. Maybe helped that the climate on the west coast is a tad drier than it is back in Ireland making cycling a little more comfortable but the couple were impressed by how positively Cyc-lok was received everywhere they went.

Helping to make bike rental more manageable

The huge appetite for encouraging staff to cycle to work was, however, matched by concerns over existing day-to-day management of bike facilities. Cyc-lok can link to bike rental schemes so employers know exactly who has used a bike, when and for how long. Reducing common time-consuming problems such as employees losing locker keys and bikes left locked in a locker when an employee goes off on holiday.

Cyc-lok takes a lot of the hassle away making it easier for companies and employees to create more sustainable commuting. Talks between Cyc-lok and US tech companies are positive and ongoing.

 

Cyc-lok lockers at Pearse Station.

Louise Murphy, Sales Director, Cyc-lok. Photo: Naoise Culhane.

How winning the Sustainable Startup category at Startup Awards 2016 helped

“The award led to us being the finalist candidate for the ‘Green’ category at the StartupEUawards 2016 and to continue to pursue our vision to negate bike theft in cities all over the world thus encouraging cycling for commuting and leisure.”

Louise Murphy, Sales Director, Cyc-lok

Find out more

The Bank of Ireland Startup Awards 2017 reward excellence in startup activity across all sectors in Ireland and are now a major event in the business calendar. The winners across a range of categories were announced on 18 May 2017.

Discover more about the Bank of Ireland Startup Awards 2017 here.

Topic: Business 15 Oct 2016
Author: Neil Cubley

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