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Velotooler app up and running, adds insurance and new partnerships

Published January 26, 2017
A screenshot of the Velotooler iOS app.

HAMDEN, Ct. (BRAIN) — Velotooler, a web-based program that matches up consumers with independent bike mechanics, is getting off the ground with a trial run in New England, where about 80 transactions have been completed this month, in the heart of the region's off season.

The startup has signed up more than 240 mechanics in North America and recently obtained a group insurance policy eliminating a major barrier to signing up more mechanics. Previously, Velotooler required mechanics to obtain their own insurance before they could register. Now mechanics can use their own or the group policy.

Additionally, Velotooler has developed a partnership with the bike shipping service BikeFlights.com. Starting next month, Velotooler mechanic locations will be listed on the BikeFlights.com Shop Finder so that cyclists shipping bikes can hire them for bike packing or unpacking services.

As a trial run, Velotooler began marketing its program with regionally targeted ads in the New Haven, Connecticut, area and in Rhode Island for two weeks in December.

The company is seeing 3-4 transactions a day in the region recently, with a total of 77 transactions to date this month, said Cerilenne Menendez, a Velotooler co-founder who handles the operation's business development. 

With the group insurance plan now in place, Velotooler plans to soon begin marketing in other regions, including areas that see more bike activity in the winter months.

The startup also revealed more of its backers and team members, who include an array of web developers, entrepreneurs, retailers and professional cyclists.

The startup team.

The backers include Kanstantsin "Kosta" Siutsou, a Belarusian pro best known in the U.S. for winning the 2008 Tour de Georgia with Team HighRoad. Siutsou also finished 16th in the Tour de France that year. He is an investor and advisor to Velotooler.

Others involved include former pro cyclist and technology entrepreneur Yahor Buben (the company's CEO); Rhode Island retailer Amos Brumble; former pro cyclist Dzimitri Buben; former cyclist and businessman Denis Buben; and Aliaksandr Bialiauski, a former Belarusian national team member and a professional bike mechanic.

The app evolved out of the needs of the backers, several of whom spent years as elite amateur and pro racers/part-time bike mechanics. As racers, they often found themselves in need of bike repairs and parts in odd regions and at odd times. And their racing ambitions made it difficult to maintain steady employment in bike shops. Thus ... Velotooler.

The company has ambitions to expand beyond a simple peer-to-peer platform. The app includes a bike tracking program, that will record its service history and maintain its serial number, which the bike owner could find useful if the bike is stolen. The bike profile also will help mechanics know what tools and parts they might need when they go out on a service call. And an upcoming "badge" feature would allow mechanics to give a bike a seal of approval. good for 30 days, that its owner could refer to if selling it.

Menendez said eventually Velotooler would like to set up system allowing customers to order repair parts through the app, so that mechanics do not need to carry inventory.

Velotooler's marketing plans include the title sponsorship of the CCB Velotooler team, a Boston-based development squad with a UCI Continental license (several of the Velotooler backers are CCB alumni). Velotooler also is sponsoring a series of spring road races in New England, called the Velotooler Cup.

More information velotooler.com.

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