Bleeper has raised close to €600,000 from investors as it prepares to roll out electric bikes and scooters on Irish roads.
The bike rental operator has a licence from Dublin City Council that allows it to have up to 1,000 bicycles for hire in the capital. It currently has around 800 standard bikes available for users, and is intending to roll out an initial 200 ebikes shortly.
The company is also waiting for legislation to be passed that will enable electric scooters to be used on Irish roads with plans to introduce a shared scooter scheme.
It recently rebranded from BleeperBike in recognition of its plans to expand its offering. The company had originally intended to roll out ebikes in late 2019 but this was postponed.
Bleeper says it currently has more than 70,000 users, with the number of registered customers growing by more than 150 per cent last year.
It recently introduced an ebike sharing scheme in the Merchants Building development in Dublin 8.
The investment has been secured through the Davy EIIS fund, a joint venture between accounting firm BDO and stockbroker Davy, which allows investors to claim tax relief on investments in emerging companies. It brings to €1.3 million the total funding raised by the company since it was founded by Hugh Cooney in 2016. Other backers include Enterprise Ireland.
The latest set of publicly-available accounts for Bleeper show it had accumulated losses of €860,320 at the end of 2019.
“We’re interested in making both ebikes and scooters available to our customers with roll out largely dependent on when legislation is passed allowing the latter. In other countries, escooters have tended to be more popular and so we’ll probably focus on them ahead of ebikes if it looks like they’ll be allowed shortly,” Mr Cooney told The Irish Times.
A number of international shared scooter operators, including Voi, Tier and Bolt, have expressed interest in rolling out schemes here once legislation has been passed. Dublin Bus has also signalled its intent to operate a service, while taxi app Free Now has said it intends to expand into the space by offering access to schemes through its platform.
On the likelihood of increased competition, Mr Cooney said: “We’re local and are already operating here and have been for three years now, so that stands us in good stead. We’ve also established a good partnership with local authorities so I think we’re well positioned once the go-ahead is given.”
Minister for Transport and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan recently signalled he intended to bring a law to permit the use of e-scooters, with a plan for it to be passed before Christmas.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Transport said the Road Traffic (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, which will enable the legalisation of e-scooters, is due before the Dáil shortly.
“The intention is to introduce an amendment at committee stage which would allow for secondary legislation to regulate the use of e-scooters,” she said.