We are always searching for the easiest solution for any problem, and that should be. If you ever visit in Dhaka, then you must face a clinically dangerous problem – Jam. Dhaka Traffic Jam is now a buzzword around the world. Many analysts think over it and try to give the solution, but the end of the day almost none of the structure-based ideas are entirely pragmatic. Our research report shows that plenty of money and time are subject to implement that resolution. At that time one of the team members of InCAP noticed quite a few bicycles labeled ‘Jobike‘ alongside the Mirpur DOHS Road, Dhaka.
He tried to gather some information about Jobike, but he did not feel that enough. Eventually, we invited Mr. Mehedi Reza (Founder & CEO of Jobike) in our Dhaka office.
After a flourishing discussion, we feel that Jobike is not only the solution to the horrible traffic jam, but it is a healthy and robust answer for the transportation problem in a very cost-effective way. The concept of Jobike can simply put in implement anywhere in Bangladesh.
Conversation With Mr. Mehedi Reza
The InCAP: We want to know the startup story of Jobike?
Mehedi Reza: At that time I was working in Alibaba Group in China and had to come to Dhaka for official purpose every month. In fact, the idea that we are working with Bangladesh, it is not a new idea. This is a solution that we brought to Bangladesh. We do not say that we brought a new concept, but instead, we say that we have delivered a solution. This idea was first invented in China, as well as Denmark and USA. There are bicycles sharing arrangements systems are available in different countries, which is an excellent way to go from one station to another. However, since we are working on that idea, in 2015, the company called ‘ofo’ started this system first in China. In this concept, you don’t need any specific station to park the bike. Without station means you can leave your bike in any place.
The InCAP: When did you feel this idea can apply in Bangladesh also?
Mehedi Reza: When I used to work in China, I often did to drive these bicycles. When I came to Bangladesh, I remember I was going to Walton one day at Motijheel. My meeting was at 3 o’clock, but I could not reach in time because there was lots of jam on the street. I started walking from the Palton, yet I arrived about 15 minutes late. I have to walk; otherwise, I could not reach. At that time, I thought that why we are not applying the same solution in Bangladesh that China has? If so, I could easily reach my destination without walking. Then I returned to China, and I thought about this matter.
The InCAP: Started alone?
Mehedi Reza: When I worked in Alibaba, I had two close colleagues, one of them was Brazilian named William and another was Mexican named Pablo. Both of them told me that why don’t you using this same idea in Bangladesh? Now William and Pablo are my co-founders. Afterward, two of my Bangladeshi friends joined with me; we established Jobike with these five people.
The InCAP: Want to know about Market Research of Jobike.
Mehedi Reza: At first, we operated a study at Jahangirnagar University. We conducted a survey among students that how much money they spend on their daily travel and if the bicycle comes, will it be useful for them? From here we got much information. A student of that university spent 80 to 100 taka in the university every day, which is a big amount for the students. After standing upon this information, we set a model for how this whole thing would work. Then I went back to China again.
The InCAP: At that time you used to work in Alibaba, then how did you manage so much?
Mehedi Reza: I remember that from 10 am to 6 pm I used to work in Alibaba and I worked for Jobike from 6 pm to 4 am. Every day we sleep like 5 hours. The time was tough for all of us.
The InCAP: How did you manage the money that was needed to implement this plan?
Mehedi Reza: At first, when we went to our various investors, they did not believe that. They think in Bangladesh it’s never possible. At first, they felt that the bikes would be stolen because we think that the Bangladeshis aren’t honest at all; our behavior is wrong. But surprisingly by Jobike, we invented that Bangladeshis are really very honest! 30% of bikes of China’s ofo company has been stolen, and I am running Jobike six months in Bangladesh. But we have not lost any cycle, not even on! Therefore, we must first change our mentality. At that time I convinced Shamim Bhai, he asked me that are you sure that it will work? I said, of course. Then he invested some of us here, and then I went to Tanvir Ali who is the executive director of the Olympic group. He has invested in many other places such as Chaldal, Pathao, and after this Fahim Saleh who is the investor of Pathao has also invested in the same way. He has another business like Pathao in Nigeria. That’s how our Jobike managed the initial capital and started the journey.
The InCAP: Where Jobike launched first?
Mehedi Reza: At Cox’s Bazar.
The InCAP: When?
Mehedi Reza: The month of June 2017.
The InCAP: How was the response at Cox’s Bazaar?
Mehedi Reza: It was too tricky journey at Cox’s Bazar. You need to have permissions from DC, ADC, SP. It will be hard to do conveying the authority that “What’s Jobike?” How are we going to generate the benefit? We convinced them that this is not only business. From the view of social point, we are changing people’s behavior. We thought that Bengali would never think of running a bicycle on hire and paid the money as per time.
The InCAP: Why you choose Cox’s Bazar for the first implement?
Mehedi Reza: From the tourist point of view, it’s a healthy mood of transportation we are providing. Tourists want recreation. At the same time, we are promoting the country’s tourism industry. Many foreign tourists are coming to Cox’s Bazar, but due to the Rohingya Camp, there is not much scope of recreation in Cox’s Bazar without the sea beach. There is a thing called TomTom which is very expensive. Now foreigners are coming to Bangladesh and seeing that they have seen the same technology in China, Australia, and many other developed countries, they just feel WOW! So somehow we are participating in the development of the Tourism Industry.
The InCAP: How does Jobike work and what are the technical features?
Mehedi Reza: It’s very simple! Firstly you just need an android phone. Then you have to download the app of Jobike from the play store. Then you will have to register with your number. Then there will be a verification code sent via SMS, then input that code manually, and then it will be registered, simple! This is a prepaid system, and you need to refill. We have some sales agents in every zone; you need to show the barcode. Our agent is sitting with a barcode scanner. He gives refill load manually. Very simple.
The InCAP: So refill has done. Now we want to know the next step, about the bicycle rental and security system.
Mehedi Reza: When you open the app, in the app you can see how many bicycles are around your 100 meters. You can follow the map and go to your nearest the bicycle; also we have specific parking spaces, wherever you always get bicycles. There is a smart lock behind every bicycle. The lock will be unlocked immediately after scanning. Once you unlock, it’s start counting. According to the minutes, after you lock the cycle, your ride will be finished manually, and it’ll pop up and show you how much money is spent. We tell the people to lock it in such a way that there is no difficulty in walking with others, don’t make any disturbance of traffic. Lock on a safe side so that other users can see easily.
The InCAP: How much is the charge inside and outside the university?
Mehedi Reza: In the university, every 5 minutes charged 3 takas and outside 1 taka per minute.
The InCAP: Right now in which areas have Jobike’s service?
Mehedi Reza: We started with 20 bicycles in Cox’s Bazar, and then we increased the cycles. There are fifty cycles right now in only in Cox’s Bazar. Recently we launched this service in the Rohingya Camp, from the social point of view; at there Jobike service is completely free. We want to work on climate change, and we want to work on people. There are 27 Rohingya camps in Bangladesh, and there is no transportation system between them. When we started our service in Cox’s Bazar, we provided 20 bicycles in Noapara, Bangladesh’s first Rohingya camp. There are volunteers and donor agencies over there; they are also used to use this service. As well as we want to work with the United Nations and the Government so that we can provide bicycle service to all camps! Not only this, we have employed two Rohingyas, their responsibility is to maintain the bicycles.
Then at Jahangirnagar University, University of Chittagong, Mirpur DOHS, and Shahjalal University of Science and Technology University – we have started our service.
The InCAP: Within how many days you will spread the service among the Dhaka city as well as the country? What’s your next plan?
Mehedi Reza: Very soon we will launch in Gulshan, Banani, and Dhanmondi but at this time we do not want to say precisely how we do it. It can be said that we are thinking differently because there are many problems with traffic in Gulshan-Banani, where will people park bicycles? Because of this, we are thinking about many models where the government’s cooperation is a must. Otherwise, it’s not possible.
The InCAP: Why don’t you start at Dhaka University yet?
Mehedi Reza: Our next target is Dhaka University, Mymensingh Agricultural University, Islamic University, Khulna University, Rajshahi University along with Rajshahi City. Mayor of Rajshahi wants to make Rajshahi a Green City; he invites us. By the 1st of April, we will start our project in all our public universities.
The InCAP: Is there any plan for the whole country?
Mehedi Reza: Of course, we have plans for Bangladesh. By 2019 we will release 20,000 new bicycles in the market, which will benefit at least 500,000 people.
The InCAP: How much Jobike has achieved success so far?
Mehedi Reza: Excellent. We are receiving an unprecedented response. We have 40% female and 60% of the male users on the university campus. They enjoy the benefits of Jobike. There are 20% of new women who could not ride bikes, but now they are learning to ride a bike. They learned to ride bikes by Jobike, isn’t it enough!
The InCAP: If there is any damage to the bike while riding Jobike, who will compensate for it?
Mehedi Reza: Actually, compensation must be given by the user according to the rules, but at the moment we are not asking these things from them.
The InCAP: What is your next plan for Jobike?
Mehedi Reza: We have a big dream that we want to work with the United Nations in the near future. We want to work on information and education. We also want to provide employment opportunities to local entrepreneurs. They can also do business with Jobike by operation maintenance, and we are ready to share revenue with them. We aim to spread 1 million bicycles across all over Bangladesh in the next 5 years so that 20 million users can enjoy our Jobike service.
The InCAP: What is your advice to entrepreneurs?
Mehedi Reza: You have to have the entrepreneur mindset. The problem is, we never focus on our dreams. We have to be focused on our goal. You have to choose your partner carefully, and you have to see whether your partner can add value to the business. Excessive dedication and hardworking are needed. We must be clear what we want to do. We do not think about ideas. As an entrepreneur, you should have the ability to see the futures. Our mindset up is griping on easy to give up and blame to others; we should avoid it.