BY MARK SANCHEZSunday, April 24, 2022 06:17pm
A Grand Rapids startup seeks to do for bicycling what Uber and Lyft have done for transportation or DoorDash, Instacart and similar ventures have done for food and retail delivery.
Biked Inc. plans to launch next week, offering consumers what founders David Hopson and Jared Lebel believe is a far more convenient way to have a bicycle repaired, making it “as simple as ordering a pizza,” Lebel said.
Using the company’s website or app, a customer can arrange to have their bike picked up and taken to the company’s shop in Wyoming where it’s fixed and quickly returned. In the weeks ahead, Biked also will start offering basic, quick repairs — such as fixing a flat tire — at a customer’s home or place of employment.
As well, the company will perform tune-ups or repairs on e-bikes and plans to add a feature to its app and website this summer to buy and sell pre-owned bikes that have been certified by a repair technician, similar to the model behind Carvana and Vroom, Lebel said.
“The whole idea behind Biked is a better way to buy, sell and fix your bike,” said Lebel, Biked’s co-founder and chief strategy officer. “We’re trying to bring the bike shop to your phone and make it a lot more convenient.”
Lebel and Biked CEO Hopson envision expanding the model beyond Grand Rapids with operations in multiple markets in the U.S. in the years ahead. The first expansion planned could occur in Austin, Texas, in 2023, Lebel said.
Hopson describes the company as “on a mission to make cycling a much more accessible and easy experience for a broader range of cyclists and to bring better service and offer greater value to our customers.”
To pursue their vision, the partners have raised $250,000 in seed capital, primarily from friends and family, Lebel said. The company seeks to raise a total capital round of $750,000, according to a February regulatory filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Biked was among the Michigan-based companies listed in a quarterly report on venture capital and angel investments.
Across the state, 41 companies received a combined $257.6 million in investments during the first three months of 2022, according to the first quarter report from Pitchbook and the National Venture Capital Association. That compares with 46 deals totaling $274.1 million in the first quarter of 2021.
Venture capital and angel investments in Michigan in all of last year reached a record $1.39 billion across 166 deals, which compares to 162 in 2020 for $951.3 billion in the first year of the pandemic, according to Pitchbook and the NVCA.
A “lot of factors could be going into this slight downturn” in the first quarter of 2022, although “I am not overly concerned,” Ara Topouzian, executive director of the Michigan Venture Capital Association, wrote in an email to MiBiz.
“Some unpredictability around the economy and workforce has some impact, but we are still seeing big momentum around deal activity, especially compared to the last five years. It is too early to predict the outcome and I continue to be optimistic,” Topouzian said. “Michigan has been resilient and investors are busy with many currently in fundraising rounds.”
The largest investment in West Michigan during the first quarter of 2022 went to Grand Haven-based U.V. Partners Inc., which closed in January on $9.1 million in later-stage capital, according to data from Pitchbook. An SEC filing indicated the capital raised from 18 investors was part of a larger $15 million equity offering.
Other West Michigan investments in the first quarter included:
$7 million in a Series B round that closed in February for Crossliner Inc., a Kalamazoo company that developed what’s promised as a safer and simpler device to use in cardiac catheterization procedures.
$2 million in angel capital for Competitive Wedge LLC, a Holland company that developed a video interviewing platform.
A $1 million investment in January for Innovative Cardiovascular Solutions LLC in Grand Rapids, which developed a medical device designed to increase patient safety during a heart procedure.
Nationally, venture capital and angel investors in the first quarter put $70.7 billion into 4,822 deals, a level of activity that was down from the same period a year earlier as the industry began what would become a record year in 2021 with $342.2 billion invested in 17,105 deals.
At Biked, the capital raised will support startup and expansion costs. That includes a repair shop, a van to pick up and return bikes to customers and eventually do minor on-site repairs, hiring repair technicians, and a “cutting-edge marketing plan” as the company plans to expand to other markets in the U.S., Lebel said.
In building the company, Hopson and Lebel want to eliminate the hassle and inconvenience of transporting a bike to a repair shop and back. The idea for the model behind Biked resulted from Hopson doing bike repairs in his garage. He “got overloaded” and “realized there’s a real demand for someone who brings the bike shop experience to your door,” Lebel said.
Biked prepares to launch May 1 after the pandemic of the last two years gave a quick rise to digital retail and food delivery services. In replicating the model, Biked is “trying to bring the Instacart and DoorDash experience to bike care, and it’s such an opportune time. Those services have been booming,” Lebel said.