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Spinlister returns with new bike-share capability for IBDs

Published April 11, 2019

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (BRAIN) — Spinlister, which started as a peer-to-peer bike-share platform in 2012, has been reborn with technology that can help IBDs dip a toe into the micromobility boom.

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Spinlister shut down in April last year when co-founder and CEO Marcelo Loureiro was offered an opportunity to launch a dockless scooter share company in his native Brazil. The business went dark suddenly, and stayed offline for about seven months.

Mark Gustafson, an acquaintance of Loureiro and a fellow Santa Barbara resident, relaunched Spinlister late last year with three key programs: its legacy business of peer-to-peer bike rentals, like Airbnb for bikes; an updated and simplified commercial bike rental management software that features an in-store kiosk that lets customers start the rental paperwork themselves; and a bike-share or bike fleet-management program that relies on a mobile app and a Bluetooth-operated U-lock.

"Our main focus is giving bike shops ways to increase revenue, and instead of being hurt by the micromobility explosion, capitalize on it and thrive,” said Gustafson, who is also co-founder of Story Bicycles, an e-bike brand.

The bike-share program allows small, local operators, including bike shops and mobile service operators, to compete with the giant multinational companies that currently dominate that market.

It lets retailers run a fleet of their own bikes, or manage fleets owned by local hotels, resorts, apartment buildings, corporate campuses or universities and colleges, for example.

“City officials want to offer micromobility, but they have issues with scooters scattered around on the sidewalks and ADA compliance. They also have issues with sending their local money out of state, to Silicon Valley or to some giant company. The Bluetooth U-lock lets local businesses run their own bike-share programs. It keeps the money local and in a small business,” Gustafson said.

The system is in beta testing in several locations.

The app allows users to find an available bike (at an outside rack at a bike shop or a resort, for example), unlock it and ride away. The bike can be returned and locked at a designated area identified with the app’s geolocator. Unlike dockless share systems, this system encourages users to return their bike to an appropriate place instead of abandoning it on a sidewalk or in the shrubbery.

“I feel strongly that share bikes need to have designated return areas,” Gustafson said.

In addition to working with bike shops, Spinlister recently began a partnership with the Professional Bicycle Mechanics Association. Some of PBMA’s independent mechanic and mobile service members operate small rental fleets that can make use of Spinlister; Spinlister planned to be at the PBMA tent at the Sea Otter Classic expo in April to meet with retailers and mechanics.

Spinlister’s updated kiosk bike rental system is less expensive than previously, and will work with nearly any iOS tablet, so shops don’t have to buy one from Spinlister. There are no setup fees, contracts or long commitments, and the system integrates with Lightspeed point-of-sale software. Spinlister also offers a web-based registration platform that can be embedded into a shop website.

The bike rental program has a feature that many similar systems lack: Users can extend or shorten the rental period from the app.

“So if someone opts to rent a bike for a couple hours and then decides they want to keep it longer, than can just make the change on the app instead of having to return to the shop,” Gustafson said.

Across the brand’s various endeavors, Spinlister’s new business model is built around acquiring users of its platform, rather than monetizing the platform with fees. The user base can be used to drive Spinlister’s use in other markets. A family renting bikes in San Francisco via a rental operation that uses Spinlister is likely to be interested in using the same system to rent bikes on a future trip to a different city, for example.

“We see a million ways to acquire active users of our platform and monetize Spinlister,” Gustafson said.

Spinlister’s kiosk bike rental system works with nearly any iOS tablet.

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