Edward is a “go-getter with entrepreneurial aspirations”, which is apt when you realise he and his fellow co-founders built oBike into the leading bike-sharing company in Singapore and the biggest in Southeast Asia.
Within a short span of eight months, oBike has expanded globally to 13 different countries.
A former drama actor and events coordinator, Edward has spent the last year or so building oBike across the region and running the marketing of the brand as their Chief Marketing Officer. With the explosion of bike sharing companies across Asia, oBike’s ascension as the largest player in Singapore is surprising, but also just the start of their journey as a brand.
If you can’t find Edward in his office, he’s likely to be traveling around the region for work or pursuing one of his many hobbies, including basketball, Texas Hold ’em (poker), or mountaineering.
Read his story here.
Sell us your company/service in 300 words?
oBike is Southeast Asia’s largest bike-sharing company with more than 2 million registered users in the region. Founded in Singapore in February 2017, we have since expanded to over 70 cities and 20 countries in less than a year. We believe in a “glocal” mindset – assembling local teams who understand the local markets and regulations while employing a global outlook. Our rapid expansion and global footprint is a testament to the viability of the business, and an affirmation of our goal of providing an alternative and sustainable mode of transportation to consumers globally.
oBike believes in taking a consultative approach to improving our service. We are constantly listening to our local stakeholders such as our users, the authorities and our partners, both potential and existing, to see how we can enhance the bike-sharing experience for everyone. We leverage innovative technology and data to improve cities’ transportation infrastructure and in the process, solve urban transportation woes.
oBike encompasses both the hardware (e.g. oBike Smart Lock, mobile payments, usage of telematics) and heartware. At the heart of the company, there exist an experienced team of engineers, marketers, data scientists and technologists, who are led by seasoned entrepreneurs and serial investors. Together, we envision a future where bike-sharing becomes a sustainable, eco-friendly and flexible last-mile transportation mode for everyone and everywhere.
What is stopping you from having the largest company in the world?
From the very beginning, we have set our sights on becoming a substantial player in the bike-sharing ecosystem. In each of the market that we are operating in, we only hire the best: aspirational indviduals who, like us, dream big. They embody the spirit of innovation, creativity and fearlessness. Our people, combined with the right use of technology, has served us well in the past year – propelling us from Singapore to over 70 cities within a span of 12 months. And we’re not showing any sign of slowing down – we aim to be in 80 cities by March 2018.
Having said that, every market is unique and has its own challenges. To be a true global player in the bike-sharing industry will require us to have a strong local team that is well-tuned and aware of the issues and considerations for bike-sharing to thrive in that particular city.
For example, we recently launched our lighter and more ergonomic Smart Generation bicycles in Singapore following feedback from the public, providing more options for our users, especially those who are of a smaller build. This is just one way in which oBike is demonstrating that our finger is constantly on the pulse and that we are working hard to make sure that we have the best product and service available for our users and the wider community.
If you could change one thing about the tech industry in Southeast Asia, what would it be?
Technology has made innovation faster and more accessible, and future innovation will not be the same as the past. A focus on enabling innovation and digital capabilities while ensuring we are integrated into the Internet of Things will be very important. To achieve this open and collaborative “innovation sandbox”, all companies – start-ups, SMEs or MNCs – should think of a continuum of ways to work alongside one another to solve real societal issues.
Innovation should never be for the sake of innovating as this creates a lot of hype and noise, that does not amount to anything. At oBike, we have created a service that has the end-user in mind: we want to bring everyday convenience to the lives of commuters and complement the global transportation industry. At the end of the day, innovation must either add convenience, subtract a pain point – it is about identifying where technology can add value to a user and still drive a business forward.
Name one person in the region, who is making a difference in Technology?
According to Organisation of Economic Co-operation, there will be a total of 41 mega cities (from 28 in 2014) by 2030. This will undeniably lead to increased traffic density and put a strain on transportation infrastructure, leading to congestion, pollution and other urban problems. The founders of Grab – Anthony Tan & Tan Hooi Ling – are definitely technologists I look up to. Grab started out as a start-up in Kuala Lumpur but is now a superpower in the transportation industry in the region.
What would you want people to remember you for, 100 years from now?
I want to be remembered for leaving an indelible mark in the world’s transportation industry. Hopefully, 100 years from now, the bike-sharing model will still continue to provide everyday convenience to commuters everywhere in the world.
Edward Chen is Co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer of oBike, Southeast Asia’s largest bike-sharing company. Edward is responsible for driving all aspects of brand building, multi-channel advertising and market research. As the Co-founder, he also drives strategic initiatives and steers the company towards innovative and sustainable growth.
Views expressed by the interviewee are not necessarily shared by Tech Collective. Some minimal editing is done for clarity’s sake.
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