About this project
Let’s Talk About Bikes
We created AirDonkey because we believe that biking changes both people and cities. We trust that easy access to bikes will get many more people on the roads, no matter where in the world they travel. So how, you ask?
AirDonkey is a lock and a platform that, together, allows bike owners to rent out their (spare) bike in the simplest way possible and allows renters to find and rent a bike by the click of a button.
To get on board the bike revolution, get a Donkey kit, mount it to your bike and start renting out your bike whenever you don’t use it. If you're thinking big, and want to run a rental business on Donkey platform, we would love to have a conversation :)
Donkey Republic has tested the lock and platform in and around Copenhagen, and the system works. We have served more than 300 paying users since June, and have more than 10,000 trips on Donkey system and locks.
Now we’re ready to share it with the rest of the world, and people are already starting to talk …
We are a group of bike-crazed entrepreneurs based in the bike-crazed city of Copenhagen. We're eager to create better urban areas, and we know that bikes is a great place to start, just look at where we live.
Using more bikes rather than cars have ample benefits: Lower emissions and air pollution, increasing physical activity, improving local economy, and increasing general safety are among well-known ones. We also like the democratising effect of bicycles replacing ugly SUVs.
Needless to say we absolutely love biking and we’re based right in the middle of all the positive impact biking has had in Copenhagen. And it is exactly this impact we’re keen to see happen in many more places around the world. With the lock and the platform, we’re now ready to see bike sharing taken on in every corner - and without even the need of building custom bike stations. We want to share the bikes that are already in the cities, while creating value for both the owner and user of the bike.
The Business Case
We want to spread the Donkeys all over, and that is only possible if it also means good business.
The going rate of (city) bicycle rent in Northern Europe is around 10 EUR per day. It's more expensive at hotels, and it is typical for a hotel in Denmark to rent a single day of a bike at 20 EUR (150 DKK). We have rented our own Donkeys for 10 EUR per day (75 DKK) with ease.
Donkey Republic, the company behind AirDonkey, takes 20% of the rental fee - leaving you the 80%. For this price, we provide, customer support, marketing and constant improvement of the system.
This means that you can expect a net earning of 6 EUR per rental day, and only after 13 rental days, the investment in 80 EUR AirDonkey kit will have paid for itself. Our experience shows that per day of bike rental, maintenance costs are around 2 EUR - and leaves a net earning of 6 EUR to the Donkey owner after the 20% Donkey commission.
Depending on your location, you can expect to rent your Donkey out 10-30% of the time. Placing your Donkey in central locations, and having interesting features on your bicycle (a baby seat?) will increase chances that it's rented. It is realistic to expect 100 rental days in a year for a nice Donkey. And that pays not only for the lock, but also for your bike - including repairs.
What They Say
Michael Colville-Andersen runs Copenhagenize, and consults cities around the world on how to create a better cycling culture. in October, he was in Brussels to inspire EU transport ministers on how to make cities more bicycle friendly.
Here is what he had to say about AirDonkey.
And, here are a few Donkey users telling about their first-hand experiences.
How It Works
It's one of our best moments each day when unlocking our bikes to get to work in the morning with the Donkey App and lock mounted on our bikes. Watch this video to feel the magic!
Order your AirDonkey Kit and mount the lock and panel on your bike.
Take a picture of your bike, create a profile for the bike on AirDonkey and choose the weekly and daily rental prices for your bike.
Park the bike in a convenient place, define your drop-off zone and the bike is ready to make someone's holiday better!
If you need to use your bike yourself, you simply take it out of the system for an hour, a day, a week or however long you may need it.
Create a profile and enter your credit card information.
Use the in-app map to locate bikes near you. If you have a hard time finding the bike, hit “Ping” to make the lock send out a sound. When you're by the bike simply hit “unlock” and start riding.
At the end of your rental, leave the bike back in the drop-off zone and lock it.
There's no need to hand back keys, wait for a bike shop to open, you don't have to be back at a specific time and you don't need to mess around with cash. Bike rentals have never been easier!
Partners (Owners With More Than 5 Donkeys)
If you are planning to set up a business with a lot of Donkeys, we should speak. We will build closer ties with those investing / operating more than 5 bicycles. We will help you with the setup and best practices. If your intention is to get more than 5 Donkey kits or bikes, drop us a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; subject line: 'I want to run a Donkey hub'.
What We Offer
Under The Hood
The Donkey lock is based on a simple but effective design. It's designed to last and to withstand the climate. We are not just saying that, our locks have been on the streets of Denmark during the winter season.
The lock dimensions is 12.5 cm x 15.0 cm x 4.5 cm and fits all standard sized bikes very well. It weighs 0.5 kg.
Have a backstage peek into how and where our locks are produced. This footage is from our last team trip to visit our suppliers in Istanbul.
We have built relations with our suppliers over the past year. With the kickstarter campaign support, we will need to invest in metal molds and new processes to automate some of the manufacturing that is currently delivered manually. Also, we will establish a scalable assembly and quality assurance line.
Breaking the bike during rental
Accidents happen. We expect that now and then the renter will break something. When that happens, we will ask the renter to explain the issue with the bike. The renter will need to take a picture of the bike at the end of the rental, and from the picture we can also verify disputes for most issues.
The renter will pay for broken parts. The payment will be fixed by a tariff established to protect both sides. This tariff will consider average prices for replacing the broken part.
We cannot yet offer insurance against theft. But we are speaking to insurance companies to propose some options. If the bike is stolen while it is in rental, renter is liable for it. Once renter locks and take s a picture of the bike, the responsibility is over to the owner.
Donkey lock is built on 3mm thick iron plate that holds everything together. The easiest way to open the lock is via cutting the iron beam, which is not easier than cutting through a chain.
While the Donkey Lock only locks the back wheel to the frame, by using an additional security chain, one can lock the bike to something. We make such a security chain available alongside the AirDonkey kit. One could also use a leash to support the lock.
We're all about security, and we're always working to improve. We do frequent hammer tests, to make sure our product is up to scratch. Judge for yourself
Getting a chain or a leash with your lock
We offer AirDonkey package with a chain, or without a chain (see the rewards).
If you would like to choose a leash or a chain yourself, here are a few options to order them online.
- Superlock Chain for 12 EUR
- ABUS Chain for 15 EUR
- Trimax Chain for 24 EUR
- ABUS 8mm Cable 12 EUR
- ABUS 12mm Cable for 17 EUR
Your Donkey lock is protected by a highly sophisticated symmetric encrypted handshake performed between Donkey Republic’s secure server and your Donkey lock. This protects your bike against known attacks that leverage the fact that a standard Bluetooth Low Energy key exchange can be sniffed.
That’s why we implemented a secure handshake directly between our secure server and the lock. This makes the data transferred through the renters app unreadable to anyone but the lock.
When a renter purchases a rental the server will generate a timelimited unlock command packet. The encrypted command packet is downloaded to the renters phone and can be used only for the period which he or she paid for. Once it expires it can never be used to unlock the bike again.
A similar mechanism is implemented for returning the bike. And it even works if the renter only has an internet connection while purchasing and ending the rental.
Feel free to ask any questions about how we secure our lock, we are open because true security doesn't come from obscurity.
Donkey the Original Bikes
Where It All Started
The idea started here in Copenhagen, when our co-founder Erdem and his friend started playing around with renting out bikes using texts and code locks. This inspired Erdem and that’s when we started to develop the lock. He found some other bike-entrepreneurs, and Donkey Republic was born.
We were convinced there had to be a way to make it easier for people to share and monetize their bike, making it worth their while, and AirDonkey is the solution.
Here's the founders talking about why they started the company in the first place:
Where We Are Now
In the spring of 2015 we started testing the lock and the system in and around Copenhagen with Donkey Republic bikes. Now we have more than 300 paying users and 10.000 logged trips in the system. We’ve spent a lot of time perfecting the design, setting up the best possible supply chain to ensure high quality and ensuring that the communication between the lock and the app really works.
Now we're absolutely ready to start sharing bikes all over the world and let everyone who wants use the platform and the lock for their bike(s).
We're a proud team of bike-loving engineers, developers, marketers and business developers. We have several start-ups behind us as well as years of experience from the corporate world. We also love cake.
Risks and challenges
The AirDonkey system requires that we deliver on scaling of production of Donkey Locks, and we build software features for the AirDonkey.
As we’ve developed a strong supply chain and have already produced several locks, we feel certain that we can reach our delivery target.
We will be updating the electronic board to include more modern chips that can carry improved security software on the lock. We will also build a scalable assembly line as well as a thorough quality assurance process. We will obtain the CE and FCC approvals. We have experience with the needs of these, and feel safe in getting them.
The biggest risk in terms of lock production could be disruption of a key supplier. This, we can manage with slight delays in delivery.
Concerning the software updates, we may not have all cool features ready by May, but feel certain that we can have all key features in place by then in order to send the AirDonkey, and have your listings up. Currently, we don't have the display of different bikes on the Apps, neither do we rate the bicycles, or do require the users to take pictures of them at the end of a rental.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
We start with daily rentals as the only option. We offer daily rentals from 1 day up to 7 with a discount added the longer you rent. One day counts as 24 hours.
The plan is to avail other plans for specific use cases. For example, 1 hour, and few hours of rental will also be available.
Another rental type we plan to build in the future is for commuter last-mile, where a user can use the bike up to 40 minutes within 12 hours - for much cheaper than unlimited 24 hour use for a visitor.
The renters will need to select a bike to rent, and pay for the rent, while online. But once they’ve done that, they don’t need to be online.
That means, the renter can use their smartphone without internet connectivity in order to unlock and lock the bike in the rental duration. This is possible thanks to our Bluetooth locking system connecting to the phones without internet.
If the bike is not returned to the correct place, the system will automatically charge the renter for the distance that the bike is left away from the hub. The charge will be 5 EUR for parking out of zone, 5 EUR per km for the first 10 km, than 2 EUR for each additional km. We may change these prices looking at the renter behaviour and owners' feedback.
The Donkeys can be listed for public, or not. When not listed, only privately invited persons have access to the Donkey. When listed publicly, the owner has the opportunity to issue coupons with discounts attached to them. The owner will have the coupon name, and can communicate it as s/he likes.
For example, a business can choose to offer the Donkeys freely to its staff, while offering it with a discount to their guests - while rest of users can reach the bikes at the regular price.
We use Stripe as our payment gateway. Users pay for the rent in order to book the bikes ahead of their rental session. Based on the renters' end of trip behaviour, we may charge them again, for example for leaving the bike outside of the drop-off zone. Donkey Republic receives 20% of the rental fees while owner receives 80% deposited in their bank account, which will be linked to Donkey system.
You will be able to brand your hub, meaning that when a user opens the app they will able to see hubs (a group of bikes managed by a person) anywhere. Your hub can have the name of your choice and you can brand your bikes.
Donkey Republic takes 20% of rental fees. There is no monthly fee.
During the rental period, renters are responsible concerning the well-being of the bikes. The renter has the first 15 minutes where s/he can examine the bicycle, and if s/he finds any conditions of the bike that make it unsafe or finds a component is broken, s/he is obliged to report it before the ride.
After the ride, the renter will be asked to take a picture of the bike in its locked position, which will help with examination of any issues with the bicycle. The renter will be asked to report about issues on the bike.
Donkey Republic is working on standard prices for damages. We would like to protect renters from being abused with too high / unreasonable prices, while also protecting the owners, who have to take care of the bikes. Our goal is primarily to compensate the owners for the parts they have to source and change on the bike.
The renter will have the responsibility to compensate the owner if the bike is stolen during the rental. Donkey Republic will follow up with the renter. Donkey Republic will ensure that the value of the bike is not inflated. The owner can expect a compensation of new bike market value with a discount of 30% per year.
The owner will suffer the losses if the bike is stolen during idle time. Donkey Republic is working on an insurance scheme, that bike owners will be able to opt into. If they purchase this insurance, owners will be compensated accordingly.
No. The Donkey lock connects to the users phone via low-energy bluetooth, and does not need to have connection to any other network.
Donkey lock does not have a GPS unit in it. If you are concerned with traceability of the bike, we recommend buying a GPS tracker made specifically for this purpose. Note that thieves tend to get rid off GPS devices on stolen units, and/or store them in locations without a good GPS signal.
However, Donkey’s are traceable with Donkey Apps with 200m range. That is, if Donkey users are in the vicinity of the locks, their App reports to our system that a Donkey is spotted in range. This helps us with bike recovery.
We believe the best means of securing is simply making the bike less attractive. Branding and painting the bike is one solution; use of non-standard components, nuts and bolts is another solution.
We recommend using a chain or cable in addition to the Donkey lock to secure the bike to another object in not safe areas.
Kickstarter is meant as a discounted sales channel where we also build a community. Donkey Kits will be sold also after Kickstarter, however Kickstarter orders will be prioritized for delivery. The price for sales after Kickstarter will not be lower than the price at Kickstarter.
Donkey Republic aims to have Donkey Hubs, where a large number of Donkeys are made available to users. A hub could contain 5 or more bicycles, we expect some to contain a few hundred in busiest areas.
Hubs will be operated by partners, who Donkey Republic will develop an institutional relationship with, in order to support them with best practices. We also work on undertaking specific marketing activities in order to drive more traffic to the hubs. Hubs will have some level of exclusivity in renting out bicycles from the specific location where they are set up.
Accidents are always very unfortunate. While we love cycling, we also are aware of dangers of cycling in many urban areas and lobby for better infrastructure as well as better regulation of drivers’ behaviour.
Our terms and conditions state that if someone has an accident, and injures themselves, the Donkey owner does not have liability. The renter needs to verify that the bike is in good condition at the beginning of his/her journey, and cannot hold the owner liable for any incidents. The renter can return the bike within the first 15 minutes of the journey without any cost if the bike has functional issues.
We have been running the systems our selves this year to get to know what we are delivering to our partners. This is however a very basic interface, and we have not finished the back-end interface for the fleet managers yet.
You will be able to see the locations of bikes, battery levels, rentals statistics, renters, upcoming bookings, set prices, mark bikes invisible for users in case they need servicing, etc.
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