Smart Cities Norway want to facilitate the development and sharing of ideas from small businesses and startups in Norway. During the event Arendalsuka in August this year, we organised a pitch contest for smart city solutions, where the winner was Julia Wei Cai and the invention Oslobike.
Oslobike is a chatbot e-bike with a virtual guide, targeting global tourists who visit Norway. The solution is developed by the technology company Nexo Mobility where Cai is CEO. We have talked to her about the pitch contest and the time that followed for her and the company.
“It was just a few days since the Oslobike launch before we got invited to Arendalsuka, Cai explains. “It was such a wonderful way to roll-out Oslobike. We gained big attention and to the right audience. It happens all the time that after I introduce myself at meetings, people would immediately say that they recognise me from Arendalsuka. It is a great door-opener to the following conversations.”
If you are still wondering how the Oslobike differs from other city bikes, then pay close attention while Cai explains it easily in three steps:
“Firstly: Floating / dock-less el-bike sharing. We have built the entire system including the IoT system which give us the total control of the bikes and operations. The bikes are GPS tracked, power and lock can be remotely controlled with real-time location generated. Having this total control allows us to set up geo-fenced operation zone, where users can use the bike within this zone and temporarily park the bike as they wish. When trip completed, return to any public racks near the destinations. The solution gives the most convenience and flexibility to the users.
Secondly: no need to download app. Today, almost all services require app downloads, while the Oslobike uses a chatbot to seamlessly connect the entire process from bike rental, virtual guide, mobile payment and navigation. Now, open Facebook Messenger and search for “Oslobike” - you will find the bikes nearby you. In addition, the chatbot also gives you 24/7 instant on-demand customer support.
Finally: Combined e-bike and virtual guide. Once you unlock the e-bike, you also unlock the virtual guide for free. For example, it gives English audio guide to over 10 major points of interests in Oslo.”
“There are several reasons why we chose to focus on the tourist market”, Cai says. “Tourists typically spend a day going around the city, and they need a solution that improves their satisfaction while lowering the environmental impact. And a tourist on bike spend 4-5 times more money than someone who drives a car, so we can build solid revenue models. Furthermore, I have myself experience how hard it can be being a tourist when I lived in Paris and my family came to visit. We rented a car in Paris, and you know, we are stuck in the traffic jam with kids crying, and when we finally arrive, there is no parking place... Why can’t a city simply offer something better? Why can’t I grab a family bike to see Paris!
Wei Cai is originally from Shanghai, but she has lived in Norway the past ten years. She tells us about how she and her husband tried to move back to China at some point, but had to give up when he was allergic to the degree of air pollution there.
“I often call us “climate refugees” she says, and explains that that is partly the reason she cares strongly about businesses that are environmentally friendly while at the same time they have a sustainable model. “When Norway has set an ambitious emission cut goal, and are appointed as the “green capital” of EU in 2019, we believe that a smart, green micro-mobility solution is needed to achieve this goal.”
In the time after the pitch contest held by Smart Cities Norway, Nexo Mobility’s key focus has been to further develop floating e-bike solutions to the tourist market. “We receive many requests to provide electric bike solutions to cities or companies - especially after the contest” Cai explains. “We were immediately put to some key contacts in the mobility sector, and several meetings were booked. We are very happy with the results that we have served already clients from over 25 countries in such a short time. The contest and the network has been really valuable to us, and we are truly motivated and excited with such a recognition. We look forward to participating at future events, and collaborate with partners on future urban solutions.”
Already this week, from November 13th through 16th, Wei Cai will join Smart Cities Norway to one of the world’s most important conferences for smart cities: the Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona. She will give a pitch at a Meet the Nordics session and present Oslobike in less than two minutes for smart city enthusiasts from all over the world.
In December, Smart CIties Norway will organise a new pitch contest, this time at Evolve Arena. Evolve is one of the most important Norwegian fairs to learn about smart cities and sustainable societies. You can read more about the conference and the pitch contest which will happen on the 6th of December here: http://www.evolvearena.com/en/