Recent graduate Jeff Stefanis (MSB ’13) is revolutionizing the way Washington residents get around their city by introducing Riide, a company that that will sell moderately priced electric bikes that double as bicycles.
“We saw an opportunity, and we decided to make our own electric bike, specifically designed for young urban commuters, as a quicker and less expensive way to get around the cities,” Stefanis said. “What we’re really excited about our bike is that it’s a relatively light bike that maintains the traditional feeling of riding a bicycle.”
The startup will begin fundraising on Kickstarter next week. The page will provide a description of the bike and Riide’s goals.
Stefanis drew inspiration for Riide, cofounded with The George Washington University graduate Amber Wason, after witnessing the proliferation of electric bikes in China.
The electric bike, priced at $1,799, can travel up to 20 miles per hour thanks to a four-pound battery located inside the frame of the bike. The battery lasts about 20 to 25 miles per charge and can be charged at any wall socket in about two to three hours.
Stefanis plans to cater to the District but has hopes to integrate with the Georgetown community, as Georgetown and the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative have been assets to Stefanis and Riide’s conception.
The Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative has been instrumental in the support and development of Riide. The program exposed Stefanis to courses and mentors, in addition to providing seed money for opportunities to pitch business ideas.
“Jeff is the kind of guy you want to root for, and his passion for transforming urban transportation is palpable. I predict that Riide will be very successful,” Jeff Reid, the founding director of the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative, said. “He is using the power of entrepreneurship to create meaningful change in American cities and help alleviate problems such as pollution and traffic congestion.”
For students, Riide will be a useful alternative to the limited public transportation in the D.C. area.
“I think it’s a really good idea, especially because public transportation is really crowded and somewhat unreliable,” Alex Garvey (MSB ’17) said. “I think that if I lived in D.C., I probably wouldn’t want a car just because it would be a big hassle, and I would probably take public transportation, but if there were the bike option, I would definitely consider it.”
Despite the possible utility of Riide, the price of the bicycles remains an important consideration for students on a budget.
“Cost is a big factor. As an urban youth, I may not be able to afford an electric bicycle,” Matt Hinson (SFS ’17) said.
According to Sustainability Fellow Greg Miller (SFS ’14), the option of Riide gives students familiarity with bicycling, thus making the mode of transportation more attractive.
“More and more people are going to ride bikes versus take other forms of transportation cause it really is mostly about convenience and easy access,” Miller said. “[D.C.] is a really bicycle-friendly city; there are a lot of routes for cyclists.”
Ultimately, Riide aims to change the convenience and efficiency of public transportation in cities.
“We really think that electric bikes are not only the quickest way to get around a city, but also the least expensive and most efficient way,” Stefanis said. “We hope to change the way people think about transportation.”
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