Sydney is in a two-wheeled business boom, with an increasing number of savvy entrepreneurs using the humble bike for success. New cycling start-ups have joined dozens of bike shops, cafes and retailers, establishing the city as an ideal marketplace for two-wheeled businesses.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the rise of bike-centric businesses was indicative of a wider shift. “The way we travel in Sydney is changing. More than 7,000 people ride to work in the city centre each day – the equivalent of 116 full buses,” the Lord Mayor said. “As riding a bike becomes more popular, it’s opening up new economic opportunities.”
Pyrmont-based Livelo has tapped into a burgeoning market, delivering high-end road bikes to business travellers who are keen to escape the boardroom and see Sydney by bike. For founder Peter Barnes, what started as a passion has quickly grown in to a successful business.
“Traditionally start-ups try to solve a problem, and travelling cyclists was mine. I’d been there myself; travelling for business, away from home and wondering where to hire a decent road bike and where to take it for a ride.” Mr Barnes said. “Sydney was the perfect place to start Livelo – it’s a great test bed for new ideas. You can’t start globally, you have to test things out in the market first.
“Whether they’re from New York, Chile or Indonesia, after riding one of our bikes our customers leave Sydney with a positive impression. The city, the national parks, the climate, the wildlife; riding a bike gives you a sense of place.”
Thirteen per cent of City of Sydney residents ride a bike in a typical week, and this trend is expected to expand in line with the City’s anticipated population growth by 60 per cent by 2036. Others are using the bike as a crucial part of their business model, taking advantage of the fast and low-cost transport mode to deliver products direct to customers.
Start-up success story Little Flowers delivers fresh bouquets by bike, selling a different arrangement each day. Co-founder Sarah Regan says bicycles have been a big part of their expansion.
“Bike couriers deliver about 70% of our flowers now and they’re a really critical part of our team,” Ms Regan said. “The bikes act like a mobile billboard; the product and our branding are out on display. People love seeing the couriers laden with flowers and we often get emails and Instagram posts telling us that it’s made someone’s day.”
Little Flowers recently shared their experience at a City of Sydney Business 101 Seminar. Providing expert advice to small and emerging businesses, the seminars offer practical information, creative solutions and original advice for operating a business in Sydney.
Over 3,000 new businesses are established in the City of Sydney area each year, creating employment opportunities and contributing to the local economy. Mobile mechanic service The Rolling Fix repairs bikes across the city, and travels between jobs on a distinctive cargo bike. Thomas Treloar and his business partner Cameron Harrison see bicycles – and opportunities – across Sydney;
“You can find people riding to work in offices all across the city now. Chifley Tower is a great example –we’re regularly servicing 50 bikes and meeting new cyclists there all the time. Their bike parking is nearly full and the community who ride there are growing,” Mr Treloar said.
“People just want to cycle, and they can see in their office buildings there is a lot of support for that. Riding that wave has been really good for us.”
Other Sydney-based cycling start-ups include International Cycling Executives, a bike-based business network for C-suite corporates, and online business Global Cycle Rides which uses a web platform to connect travelling riders with guides in 30 cities worldwide.
The City of Sydney’s 18,000 small and medium-sized businesses contribute more than $40 million to the local economy every year.