This Danish Startup Is Gunning for Your City’s Bike-Share

A Copenhagen-based startup thinks it’s come up with a more convenient alternative to your city’s bike-share program—and its co-founders have ambitions to bring their business to a city near you.

The problem with public bike-share programs, says Donkey Republic co-founder Erdem Ovacik, is two-fold. First, they’re unpredictable. Sometimes you’ll arrive at a station only to find all its spots filled, with your allotted bike time quickly expiring. Other times—particularly if you’re a visitor to a city and don’t know your way around—you’re unable to estimate how much time it will take to travel to your destination.

Then there’s the typical government program issue: rampant slowness. Even if city’s bike-share programs are mostly funded by deep-pocketed corporate entities, building bike-share infrastructure—including stations, apps, and maps—takes some time.

But what if introducing a new bike-share to your city was as easy as downloading an app? It’s the concept behind Donkey Republic, founded in 2012 in Copenhagen, which now boasts more than 10,000 trips and 500 users. Is it competing with public bike-share programs? “Yes, inevitably,” says Ovacik. “Our partners are the bike owners on our platform [and]rental shops.”