• Pink bikes for every town! The Rekola bikes teaches people to love public space

     

    For some time now Prague has been flooded by pink bicycles thanks to Vitek Jezek and his bikesharing project called Rekola. The aim of the project is to revive and diversify public space and at the same time recycle old bicycles. For his project, Vitek has received several awards in local and international competitions and was also invited to Silicon Valley.
    rekola

    Vítek Ježek is a passionate programmer whose dream is that one day people will love their city as much as he does. They will enjoy taking the underground, listen to poetry in the streets or just help others selflessly. That is why he operates Rekola, a public bike rental, to make commuting easier to residents of Prague, Brno, Olomouc, Pardubice, Hradec Kralove and Budweis.

    During his studies at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering at the Czech Technical University (CTU) he co-founded a web application development company called Clevis. In the summer of 2013 he created a bike sharing project which he further developed under the name Rekola. He rode his longest bike trip on a pink bike to Istanbul, the entire 2400 km from Prague.

     

    University awakening

    Vitek discovered his passion for technology at Jan Kepler High School, known for its alternative approach to students and teaching. During his studies he began  creating websites and managing the school IT network, which later led him to attend the Faculty of Electrical Engineering at the Czech Technical University in Prague.

    Pink start

    In 2013 Vitek met a few enthusiasts, who had already deployed a few bikes in northern Prague – Suchdol for free rental. He was excited about their idea and wanted to expand the project to the whole city. However the creators of the idea didn’t have time to carry out the project so Vitek has started by himself. “The main problem was how to pass on lock codes effectively” he says. He requested the support from the Vodafone Foundation, which supported him through the Vodafone Foundation Laboratory, an acceleration program.

    “I started to work with the Lean Startup methodology, which forced me first of all to undertake a detailed survey among the intended target group,” he says. Students seemed to be the biggest users and the first test operation took place at the university campus.140521_SIA awards_3000x2000_68_Rekola (1)

    He got his first bikes from volunteer donors who could name them and rent them for free the entire year. Some bikes he got from an NGO Bikes for Africa which were unsuitable for African conditions as they were road bikes. The initial cost he financed from a successful crowdfunding campaign and Vodafone Foundation’s contribution. He also gained money as a winner of Social Impact Award.

    In April 2014 he started full operation with more than a hundred bikes in five Prague districts. During the season 570 people had the opportunity to ride a pink bike and 12 000 bike rents took place.

    Gaining recognition in Sillicon Valley

    Thanks to the Vodafone Foundation Laboratory, Vitek attended one of the largest investor conferences for social entrepreneurship, Social Capital Markets (SOCAP) in California. Rekola was the most developed company compared to other bike sharing programs from around the world. “They were very surprised that we were able to bring the project to the operation stage so quickly.”

    “People tell me that thanks to Rekola they manage to arrive on time for their final university exams or important meetings and Rekola enable them to overtake cars stuck in long lines of traffic” replies Vitek when asked what motivates him most to continue Rekola’s development.

    Currently Rekola is operating bikesharing in six Czech cities and is in negotiation with two smaller towns. At the beginning of 2016 Rekola found a private investor who helps them to scale their business.

Comments are closed.