Electric Currents

Information 'Hiatus' Progress Report

The renovation of our new home is proceeding apace and we heard on that NeDED prototype grant.

In my last post, I explained that after nearly two decades of living and working from the same location - it would have been eighteen years January 1st - my wife and I are moving: not far, mind you. Just across town(1) to a newer, somewhat smaller, ranch-style home with a finished walkout basement. That project is progressing nicely. The ducts have been cleaned, but they're getting a second go over, just to sure. The painters, two meticulous women named Tuesday and Dawn, finished up the ceilings and have started on the trim work. We've pretty well cleaned up the kitchen and bathrooms. Yesterday, an electrician friend of mine and I went over some changes we want, starting with replacing the old ceiling fans. No sense trying to keep them since I suspect the windings are also coated with cigarette tar and nicotine.

So far, we're on schedule for a move-in the weekend of November 14th and 15th. Good thing too, because I also learned this week, Wednesday afternoon to be exact, that the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (NeDED) reviewed my grant proposal and agreed to fund it. Not as much as I had originally asked for, mind you, but still a 1:1 match. It's enough to build our first prototype Quikbyke Q•pod and equip it with a half-dozen e-bikes initially. In software development parlance, it will be our first MVP, short for "minimally viable product" to validate the concept of a semi-mobile, solar-powered, electric-assist bicycle rental system. Below is an initial artist's rendering of the repurposed container.

Quikbyke Qpod solar-charged, mobile e-bike rental kiosk

I have established an aggressive 12-week development schedule for the project, which I hope to have ready to begin testing both the hardware and software early next spring, initially here in Omaha, of course. Phase two will follow up these tests with in-the-field consumer trials, the exact location(s) to be determined.

Two local events next spring would prove great 'stress tests' for the concept: the first being the annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholder weekend which attracts more than 30,000 visitors and media from around the globe the last weekend in April or first weekend in May. It's held in the CenturyLink Center across the street from where I hope to place the Q•pod. 45 days or so later is the NCAA College World's Series attracting about four times as many visitors for a 10-14 day period in June. It too is just a couple blocks away from our proposed location at 10th and Dodge near Omaha's "Old Market," a popular tourist destination ringed with hotels.

Since Quikbyke's mission is to introduce as many people as possible to the delight of riding an electric bike, our business strategy is to eventually deploy dozens of similar units from cruise ship ports-of-call to national parks. Our five year goal is to have 100 of them in service, 75% of them franchisee-owned, and all them networked together to provide a seamless, safe, and enjoyable riding experience. We have already received queries from as far away as the Balearic Islands off the coast of Spain to Maui. Last week I took two calls from Cuban-born businessmen ready to put one at Marina Hemingway near Havana.

NeDED's grant, plus the matching funds I and four other investors have put into the project, is the first step towards that goal, and I couldn't be more excited.

(1) Our hometown, Papillion, was voted by Money magazine as the 2nd best small town in which to live in America so we're in no hurry to leave.

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