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Nextbike: ‘We see good opportunities in Gothenburg and Sweden’

6 October 2020
During the summer of 2020, German company Nextbike and the cities of Gothenburg and Mölndal launched a new bike-sharing system. Consisting of 1750 bikes and 135 stations, the new “Styr & Ställ” is smarter and more expansive than the former system.

The team behind Nextbike’s arrival in Sweden tells us about the company, its establishment in Gothenburg and their plans for growth.
 
Can you tell me briefly about Nextbike? 

“Nextbike is one of the companies that started bike sharing. Our founder started with pedal bikes with combination locks around 15 years ago. He had the idea of bringing bikes to the street. In around 2014, we came up with the first smart bike and in Europe we were becoming one of the benchmarks in terms of bike sharing. In 2016 we launched the first fully integrated bike sharing system into the public transport in Cologne. This was a big hit for the industry and for us. In this sense Nextbike is a pioneer as a public transport operator,” says Jhon Alexander Ramírez Ospina, international business development manager at Nextbike in Germany.    

“Today our footprint is widespread. We are in 200 cities and 26 countries in the world, although we are mainly concentrated in Europe,” he adds. 

Nextbike won the contract for Gothenburg’s bike sharing system. What does the contract involve? 

“The contract is for six years and it covers the full operation of the bike sharing system. We have 1750 bikes on the street and a network of 135 stations. Basically, what we are offering is a very affordable solution to move around the city,” says Jhon.

“Our system is very flexible and the contract is done in a way that we as a company are also driven by usage of the system. We have targets for the number of memberships. If we sell a certain number of memberships we get extra income. So, there are incentives to improve the system and expand the network – to even bring in other vehicles via external partners. There are plenty of opportunities we can explore in that sense in Gothenburg and Sweden.”
   
Nextbike has established an office in Gothenburg, what has the process entailed and what support did you require?

“In early 2019 we started planning how we would proceed – and we were starting from zero. So, it was helpful, especially in the beginning to get help from Joel [Görsch] at Business Region Göteborg, and the other partners. I went to Gothenburg several times to check and find the most suitable premises. We needed a location to not only steer the rebalancing and repairing of bikes, but to also have a good possibility to react on the planning of a call centre office, which is also established right now in Gothenburg. We checked several locations, got advice from a local consultant and also carried out interviews with former JCDecaux workers, who are now actually working for us. Based on this we decided to rent premises located between Gothenburg and Mölndal. We have enough space to repair the bikes and store them there, and have space for the offices, including the call centre,” says Philipp von Stauffenberg, operations manager at Nextbike in Germany. 

“We have had some challenges. Regarding the pandemic situation it meant we had to do everything more or less remotely. So, it was really helpful to have Anders [Johansson, regional manager at Nextbike Sverige] in Gothenburg who could steer and discuss with us in Germany,” he adds

What goals do you have in Gothenburg and Sweden?

“The goal is to make the Styr & Ställ system work well and be both profitable and nice for the users. Then we also have the goal to grow Nextbike Sverige AB. We want this to be a success. It’s a good thing for health, the environment, and the economy. We want it to grow healthily and be part of Sweden for a long time ahead,” says Anders Johansson, who manages the Gothenburg operations. 

Will you also look at other cities in Sweden to establish or try to get market shares there?

“Growth is always part of our strategy. We are a company that has been growing since the start. At the moment our focus is on having the system in Gothenburg performing at its best. If cities see that this is working, people are happy, and people are using the bikes as a complement of the public transport system, there will be more opportunities to grow in the coming years,” says Jhon. 

Nextbike has offices around the world, how does Gothenburg/Sweden compare as a place for doing business?

“We see Sweden as a very strong economy and the public transport network is very well developed as well as the cycling infrastructure in many cities. It’s already level 3 for bike sharing and this helps a lot to boost the usage of micromobility, because people are already used to having this. The model shares are also high in terms of bike usage. This is a good environment to get into with bikes,” says Jhon. 

“People are surprisingly friendly. We have a stereotype of people in the north being cold, but we were surprised that people were very welcoming and helping us a lot. Business Region Göteborg helped us a lot to get in, and it felt like we were already part of the country. This was a great feeling, with the team, with the city officials we work and our partners. And every time we have the chance to have contact with potential partners we see that they are welcoming us a lot, which is really good,” says Jhon. 

“The foundation, structure and procedure in Sweden are also quite close to the German way; so this was quite helpful for us to implement a subsidiary company. It was easier for us than founding an office in India, for example. It meant we had a very good starting point,” says Philipp. 

Anything you would like to add? 

“Thank you Joel and all the team at Business Region Göteborg for all the support, especially in the beginning. Entering a new market is always a challenge and it was really helpful for us to have a good start. Now we can see that people are enjoying and using the bikes. Our working together procedure was a success,” says Philipp.

The Styr & Ställ bike sharing system has been established by Nextbike in collaboration with the Traffic Departments of the City of Gothenburg and the City of Mölndal. It is operated by the subsidiary, Nextbike Sverige AB.

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