Oxford University alumnus Agne Milukaite has launched Cycle.land in the city.
The idea started out as a concept in an entrepreneurship workshop run by Oxford University’s Saïd Business School into the UK’s first peer-to-peer bike-sharing company that enables users to borrow bikes from locals.
But as the CEO of Cycle.land can testify, if you have a genuine passion for the business you are building and have the right support around you, there is always a winner’s line to cross.
Since graduating from Oxford University with an MSc in Migration Studies, CEO and co-founder of Cycle.land, Agne Milukaite drew on support from Oxford’s strong entrepreneurial eco-system to develop her business idea.
‘I’ve always believed cycling is the best way of getting around a city. With 7 million tourists visiting Oxford every year, I wanted to solve the problem of bikes not being used as efficiently as they could be in the city. So often you see lots of bikes parked up and not in use. My business idea was to create an online app that would make it possible for bike owners to loan out their bikes when not in use, rather like Airbnb but for bikes. I discussed my idea with Oxford MBA alumnus and entrepreneur Srin Madipalli, who immediately recognised its potential and became my mentor. He was very inspiring. In late 2017 Airbnb acquired the business that he co-founded, Accomable, a travel service to help people with mobility difficulties find accessible holiday accommodation. I’m so pleased for him.’
A major breakthrough for Cycle.land came when Agne attended the Oxford Venture Idea Exploration Workshop (VIEW) programme run by the Entrepreneurship Centre at Saïd Business School.
‘Cycle.land was just a concept when I started the VIEW programme and as a first-time business founder, I was eager to learn practical skills. During the six-week programme, I practised pitching a business idea, did market research, and created a business model,’ explained Agne. ‘When I came to pitch the idea of peer-to-peer bicycle sharing, it was voted ‘the best business idea’ by the panel which included Roy Azoulay who runs Oxford University’s Startup Incubator, who became my mentor.’
Cycle.land was subsequently incubated by Oxford University Innovation, which enabled the launch of a fast growing bike-sharing marketplace in Oxford within a few months. After significant success in Oxford, Cycle.land expanded and launched schemes in Cambridge and Edinburgh and is set to launch in more UK cities later this year.
‘Zipcar, Tesla and Uber are all exciting, fast-growing companies that are making a difference in how we move. But as a society, we are in trouble if innovation is solely focused on cars,’ said Agne. ‘With Cycle.land, we’re building a sustainable company focused on shared bike mobility that is at least as disruptive as car and ride sharing companies. Shared bike mobility is the next great disruptor in urban transport. Amsterdam and Copenhagen today offer a glimpse at the future of urban mobility everywhere. Just like there, we believe the majority of short trips in urban areas will be made on bikes in the future.’