With limited parking at Cal Poly and city buses overflowing with students, a student startup company is offering a new and eco-friendly way to get
BoltAbout.com offers electric bikes for students to rent on a monthly basis. The company first began a pilot run in April 2016 and was officially launched at beginning of this
“BoltAbout.com started as a project where I bought about 10 electric bikes,” BoltAbout CEO and business administration senior Matthew Maxwell said. “We found six students who were interested in renting one and we did a pilot program with them in the spring. They really loved it and then we interviewed students to see if the general student body wanted to rent them and the response was great.”
Maxwell’s company offers three different options for bikes: BoltClassic, BoltMaster and BoltLegend. Each bike has top speeds between 18 and 22 mph at monthly prices ranging from $79 to $129. All the bikes are electric and come with front and rear lights, a Kryptonite U-lock, a helmet and free maintenance.
Psychology senior Michael Kramer is glad to have a quick and easy option to commute to campus.
“Cal Poly is a biking campus, we all know that parking and driving throughout campus is a huge hassle,” Kramer said. “BoltAbout combines the best of both worlds: the speed of a car, but the versatility of a bike when it comes to parking and roads. Also, the company is local so you know who is selling you the product and [you get] speedy responses for questions and support.”
At the beginning of the school year, Maxwell and his team went to residences within a one-mile radius of Cal Poly, putting tags advertising their company on student apartment doors. BoltAbout.com mainly focuses on students because Maxwell saw it as a target demographic to offer bike rentals.
“College students as a primary market is good for a lot of reasons,” Maxwell said. “Being a lease system works when you’re leasing an asset people can’t afford to buy outright themselves. The electric bikes cost anywhere from $2,000 to $3,000. College students can’t afford that.”
BoltAbout.com’s monthly lease program can also be a good option for foreign exchange students who are here for a short period of time. Electrical engineering senior Lucius Schärer, who is from Switzerland, came to San Luis Obispo in September and searched for a way to get to campus.
“Since I’m here for only one quarter this was the easiest way to get around here in SLO,” Schärer said. “I don’t have to think about selling any bike when I’m leaving again because I can just return it to them. With the electric bike, it takes me only five minutes to campus, hence I’m using the bike every day and it is totally worth it.”
The company has already seen success this quarter with their nearly 100-bike inventory completely rented out to students. Based on how popular the company is becoming, Maxwell said he and his team are looking to expand beyond Cal Poly to University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara City College, University of San Diego and San Diego State University. However, Maxwell said that in San Diego, a unique option will be offered that reflects the relaxed surf culture in the region.
“What I’m excited for [in] San Diego is offering electric longboards for lease,” Maxwell said. “We can’t do that at Cal Poly since there are no skateboards allowed on campus. But in
San Diego, you’re allowed to skateboard.”
Maxwell said the university’s support of entrepreneurial endeavors has enabled his company and passion to grow.
“Learn by Doing and entrepreneurship is huge at Cal Poly,” Maxwell said. “There’s the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the HotHouse and the Cal Poly Lofts are just all prime examples of platforms that promote entrepreneurship. The professors are very supportive and the students are pretty darn cool too.”