Jeff Stefanis and Amber Wason have their Riide startup headquarters in an old rowhouse near Howard University’s campus in D.C. They’re building bikes. But not just any bikes. These are hybrid electric bikes for urban commuters. The idea spurred from a visit to China where they saw electric bikes helping people muddle through crowded traffic. Stephanis wondered why no one had thought of doing that here in the United States. He tells the Washington Post, “We came to the conclusion that they weren’t popular here because nobody had done it right,” he said. “So we set out to do it right.”
Unlike most electric bikes, which are big and bulky weighing in around 70 pounds, these are just 35 pounds. The Riide looks like a regular bike but can cruise at speeds of more than 20 miles per hour.
So far, it’s a small operation. Every single bike is put together inside that rowhouse. “We basically taught ourselves how to design and build bikes by working with people in the industry, spending countless hours on the phone and doing research online,” said Stefanis. They’ve just hired several employees to help brainstorm marketing strategies.
Wason tells the Post, “We’re taking the bikes out to community events, holding test rides at residential buildings, going to food truck stops, basically experimenting with various sales channels.” The duo have a goal of raising $50,000 through the online crowdfunding site Kickstarter.