Commuting within universities that have gigantic campuses can be a daunting task, therefore in European and American universities we see that they have deployed shared-biking systems for students, and employees respectively.
Now the same concept can be seen at the campus of NUST in Islamabad. The campus spreads to over 700 acres, therefore, commuting between departments, the library and even the cafeteria gets very tiring for students and faculty. A startup named CYKIQ has come up with a green and affordable solution to the problem with their ride sharing app that lets the residents of NUST rent bikes on campus through an automated system. Although, it is to be noted that NUST already an intra-community transport system in place, however, it works on fixed routes and is not available 24/7.
According to Chief Operating Officer of CYKIQ, Ans Shehzad speaking to the local news, when they did a public survey to measure the response of their target market they immediately garnered support from the audience and the campus administration.
The startup CYKIQ had begun with a docking system which that has been designed by its own team and locally manufactured by them. Their testing phase of the project initially kick started with two stations and 10 cycles. With one station was located near the hostel, while the second was deployed near one of the departments, and with the introduction of this facility, the 15-minute walk distances were reduced to a cycle ride of 3 to 4 minutes.
Sharing the experience he added that, approximately 20 users were sharing the 10 cycles. Therefore, CYKIQ decided to add more cycles to the system but they abandoned the idea of building more stations.
In five months time from 10 bicycles CYKIQ has scaled up to 50 and with the addition of new bikes, Cykiq also introduced a shareable locking system which provided the users with keys to the same set of locks. Furthermore, 60% of their user base comprises of females and their service is also popular among the blue collar staff at the campus.
Although they did not expect much traction in the summers, it turns out that they were overbooked for the entire summer as the residents preferred to ride a bike in heat than cover distances by foot.
Furthermore, Cykiq manufactures the unisex bikes themselves. They have partnered up with the oldest and top cycling manufacturers in Pakistan, Sohrab. Cykiq provided the designs to Sohrab and so far, 100 cycles were locally manufactured in Lahore. By December 2017, Cykiq had 150 cycles in its fleet.
Even though they began with a docking system, they have moved their model to a non docking one, where all technology is mounted on the bike and lock. This is also convenient for users as they are not bound by a location to pick and drop their rides. The non-docking model is also capital intensive as compared to building entire stations.
Along with the new model, Cykiq also introduced a companion mobile application for Android and Apple users to access the bikes where they can scan the QR code and the lock would pop upon. The bicycles can also be tracked with the app and smart locks. The locks have been designed in-house, and are getting them manufactured from China due to manufacturing limitations.
Currently, they have three different kinds of locking systems i.e. a manual 4-digit combination lock that unlocks with a button, an automatic Bluetooth lock and another automatic GPS based lock.
However, they continue to face struggles the biggest being online payment where they first integrated Easy Paisa and Sim Sim Wallet but received backlash, so they came up with their own wallet called CyWallets that can be charged from any cafeteria at the campus at NUST.
They also have various pricing and packages for bike that are: for a day, a ride for half an hour will cost you only PKR 15. Frequent users, can opt for the 5-rides package that will charge PKR 70. There is also a weekly package that starts from PKR 150 and monthly packages ranging from PKR 300 – 500.
They have certainly gone far, as CYKIQ rides have completed over 10,000 kilometers of distance and the Cykiq app has been downloaded almost 3000 times; with daily users ranging from 150 – 200 bike-hailers.
Recently they have also signed a franchise deal with the Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute (GIKI) and plan on launching their franchise in three universities to become more cash positive. They also have their eyes set on Karachi University and plan to launch a feasibility study there.