MBA Program: ESADE
Industry: Cycling / Mobility
Founding Student Name(s): Diego Casabe, Esade MBA 2020
Brief Description of Solution: A bike subscription service for big and crowded cities. For a monthly fee, you get your own bicycle, including full maintenance and insurance against theft.
Funding Dollars: Closing a pre-seed round of 100,000 euros.
What led you to launch this venture? Bicycles are becoming a popular means of transport again, especially in overcrowded European cities. Some countries, such as Spain, are taking measures at the national level to increase the number of bicycle lanes and to encourage citizens to use bikes instead of cars for environmental and health reasons.
Today’s younger generation is increasingly comfortable with the usage economy instead of owning goods outright. People want flexibility. On the other hand, the planet needs a break: in Barcelona alone, thousands of bicycles are abandoned on the streets; so why not reduce waste by paying for a service to use a bike and simply return it when you no longer need it?
What has been your biggest accomplishment so far with this venture? I am proud to say that we launched our venture less than two months ago, and we already have 40 subscribers and a very specific target audience that has been waiting for a product like ours. Hearing our customers say that they were waiting for a solution like Kleta is extremely satisfying and certainly a tremendous source of motivation to work hard to offer them the best.
How has your MBA helped you further develop your startup? I always felt that, at some point in my professional career, I would want to launch my own venture. Definitely, my experience during the ESADE MBA helped me to take that big step from its ideation to its implementation. Many of the courses focused on innovation, creativity, and developing an entrepreneurial mindset. The ESADE Rambla of innovation is an ideal place to create and discuss ideas, validate them and create prototypes.
In addition, I’m participating in the ESADE e-work accelerator programme. It offers participants sessions with mentors, amazing resources and the possibility of pitching to potential investors in September 2020.
What founder or entrepreneur inspired you to start your own entrepreneurial journey? How did he or she prove motivational to you? The person who has always motivated me to follow my dreams and become an entrepreneur is my aunt Susana. Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve admired her because at a very young age she decided to move from Argentina to California to start her own business. Ten years after moving to a foreign country, she founded her own company and started selling sportswear to the US Air Force, Army, and Navy. Today, she has her own sustainable fashion brand that offers clothes, other garments and fabrics, all made in the US. I’ve learned from her that, if you want something, you have to go for it and be resilient, no matter if that means leaving everything behind you and moving to a country where all you have ahead of you are challenges.
Which MBA class was the most valuable in building your startup and what was the biggest lesson you learned? The entrepreneurship class with Professor Jan Brinckmann was definitely the ideal class to learn about all the steps needed to become a successful entrepreneur. I learned a lot from the successes (and failures) of all the guest speakers who took part in the course. Also, the creativity classes with Professor Monica Alonso taught me how to think outside the box to come up with great ideas, like Kleta, to satisfy market needs.
What professor made a significant contribution to your plans and why?
Professor Jan Brinckmann taught me two important lessons when starting a business:
- The start may always be difficult, BUT the way to do it has already been found; there are clear steps to follow to launch an MVP in the market. Inventing your own path will very likely lead to failure.
- Entrepreneurship is always associated with making a project succeed when it should be just the opposite. You have to knock down your project and try to make it fail. If your idea is still standing after all the difficulties you encounter, it’s because you really have something that has clear potential and market fit.
How has the pandemic impacted your startup plans? Paradoxically, the pandemic was a factor that helped us come up with the idea behind Kleta. On a general level, the pandemic accelerated the construction of bicycle lanes in Barcelona and other cities in Spain and Europe. Over the last two months, the city of Barcelona has expanded its bike lanes by more than 25 km. People no longer feel safe using public transport such as the bus or the subway because they tend to be crowded, making it easier for the virus to spread. We believe that bicycles will position themselves as THE key means of transport in crowded cities.
In our particular case, the pandemic allowed us to validate the market with minimal working capital. Given the fall in tourism, we were able to sub-rent bicycles from rental bike stores and launch an MVP with almost no investment in assets.
What is your long-term goal for your startup? Right now we are in the process of expanding. We want to be able to have our own branded bicycles and reach 200 subscribers by the end of the year. Over the long term, we would like to expand our business to different cities in Spain and acquire more users. Our vision is to change micro-mobility in cities for the better!
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