Thad Oviatt of ParkENT Cycles on Being Atlanta’s First Electric Bike Startup

The Atlanta Small Business Network was on-location at the Atlanta Corporate Innovation Summit hosted by The Bridge Community and Metro Atlanta Chamber. ASBN’s Jim Fitzpatrick was joined by Thad Oviatt, CEO of ParkENT Cycles, to discuss meeting Atlanta’s growing need for more efficient and environmentally conscious transportation.

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT: 

Jim Fitzpratick: We’re out here at the Atlanta Corporate Innovation Summit and I’m joined by Thad Oviatt, who is the founder and CEO of a phenomenal company called ParkENT Cycles. Did I get that right?

Thad Oviatt: Yeah, ParkENT Cycles. Yeah.

Jim Fitzpratick: Fantastic. So, for the people that are viewing us right now that haven’t heard that brand yet, they’re going too right? Shortly.

Thad Oviatt: Yeah. Shortly.

Jim Fitzpratick: Tell us about your company.

Thad Oviatt: So, ParkENT Cycles, what we do is we make secure electric bicycle charging stations.ParkENT

Jim Fitzpratick: Okay.

Thad Oviatt: To handle the wave of electric bikes that are currently hitting the market.

Jim Fitzpratick: Yeah.

Thad Oviatt: Right now there’s…Last year there were about 100,000 more electric bicycles sold in the US than electric cars.

Jim Fitzpratick: Yeah. 100,000? More than electric cars?

Thad Oviatt: More than electric cars.

Jim Fitzpratick: Wow. That’s a fast moving market right there.

Thad Oviatt: Yeah. Every single bike shop, bike brand, bike manufacturer, bike share even, is coming out with their own style of electric bicycles.

Jim Fitzpratick: No kidding?

Thad Oviatt: Yeah. They’re kind of hard to distinguish because they look like a regular bike, but unless you see that guy going up a hill real easy like, that’s probably …

Jim Fitzpratick: It’s just not fair.

Thad Oviatt: It’s just not fair.

Jim Fitzpratick: Right.

Thad Oviatt: But he’s probably riding an electric bike.

Jim Fitzpratick: Yes.

Thad Oviatt: Yeah.

Jim Fitzpratick: That’s the bike I need. For sure.

Thad Oviatt: Well, you’re definitely in the demographic.

Jim Fitzpratick: Yeah.

Thad Oviatt: I mean, the only people that aren’t are 30 to 40 year olds.

Jim Fitzpratick: Okay, really?

Thad Oviatt: 20 to 30 year olds, and 50 and up are the demographic for purchasing electric bicycles.

Jim Fitzpratick: No kidding? Oh, that’s too funny. So, you got a huge market out there. Now I get my electric bike and I’m loving it, but if I go on a long distance ride where am I going to charge it, right?

Thad Oviatt: Yeah.

Jim Fitzpratick: And is that where your company comes in?

Thad Oviatt: It’s one of those where it’s the range anxiety where …. I mean, a charge can go for 20 to 70 miles depending on the terrain.

Jim Fitzpratick: Okay.

Thad Oviatt: But did you remember to charge it when you were at home?

Jim Fitzpratick: Exactly. Probably not.

Thad Oviatt: That’s the only secure place to charge it is at your house.

Jim Fitzpratick: Right.

Thad Oviatt: So, what we do, is we make the secure charging station that you’ll be able to find on our app.

Jim Fitzpratick: Right.

Thad Oviatt: Be able to look around and see where the station is, what the availability is, and then you just pull up to it, put your bike in, pull the app out, activate it, and then you have a charging port right there and your bike is secure.

Jim Fitzpratick: Right. Sure. Wow.

Thad Oviatt: So, you can go have a beer with friends and have your bike charged up.

Jim Fitzpratick: Very cool, very cool. It does the lock, it does the charge, it does the whole deal.

Thad Oviatt: It does the whole deal.

Jim Fitzpratick: I’m in good hands if I’m on your charging station.

Thad Oviatt: Oh yes.

Jim Fitzpratick: And if my charger … Or, if my bike takes a different charger than my friend’s bike are you able to accommodate both of us?

Thad Oviatt: We are compatible with every bike charger that is currently on the market.

Jim Fitzpratick: Okay. And in the event that I use your product, is it free for me and it just costs the landlord of that property? Or the government agency? Or how does that work?

Thad Oviatt: Well, as a user whose riding around and using the charging station, it is free to you.

Jim Fitzpratick: Okay.

Thad Oviatt: We sell these or at lease them to property owners.

Jim Fitzpratick: Right.

Thad Oviatt: And they can actually then apply for tax rebates for EV charging.

Jim Fitzpratick: Okay.

Thad Oviatt: So, the EV rebates for electric vehicle charging is not just for cars.

Jim Fitzpratick: Okay.

Thad Oviatt: Because bicycles are vehicles too.

Jim Fitzpratick: Oh, there you go.

Thad Oviatt: And so, this situation-

Jim Fitzpratick: Most people didn’t realize that I’m sure.

Thad Oviatt: Exactly. So, these rebates and tax incentives compensate for the price they pay for the charging system to be on their property.

Jim Fitzpratick: Very nice.

Thad Oviatt: So, they’re starting to break even from the get-go.

Jim Fitzpratick: Sure, sure.

Thad Oviatt: And then, I was just showing that when you have secure parking at a location, you got a 40% boost in revenue for the year.

Jim Fitzpratick: Oh my gosh. That’s phenomenal.

Thad Oviatt: And plus, charging a bike is like maybe seven cents or something for a day.

Jim Fitzpratick: Yeah, yeah. I can imagine. Yeah.

Thad Oviatt: So, you know, one purchase of a drink and they’ve automatically completely outdone the cost it would be for charging the bikes.

Jim Fitzpratick: So, your target audience would be municipalities, would be colleges, schools, I mean, right-

Thad Oviatt: Mix-use development, so we have one that we’re working with right now in Woodstock, Georgia to put two stations in.

Jim Fitzpratick: Okay.

Thad Oviatt: We’re building out ten of stations right now in Suwanee, Georgia, so we’re building everything local.

Jim Fitzpratick: Okay.

Thad Oviatt: Then we’re going to use, we’re working with Georgia Power to find suitable pilot locations around the Atlanta Metro Area-

Jim Fitzpratick: Oh, wow.

Thad Oviatt: And we’re currently seeking seed funding investing to get a full system of stations out into the area as well.

Jim Fitzpratick: Very nice, and that’s what brought you to the Atlanta Corporate Innovation Summit today was kind of to just network and see if there’s any opportunities to make a pitch for funding.

Thad Oviatt: Well, definitely. We’re a garage startup working out of my dad’s garage in his house, so we’re definitely looking to get that funding to get out of the garage.

Jim Fitzpratick: But you’ve got the prototype that you’re already doing business in certain areas.

Thad Oviatt: Yeah. We got the prototypes. We’ve already [inaudible 00:04:06] it out with over 800 people.

Jim Fitzpratick: The concept is in.

Thad Oviatt: Oh yeah. 10-year-old children can use it without instruction.

Jim Fitzpratick: Wow, very easy.

Jim Fitzpratick: Thad, thank you so much for joining us on ASBN. We very much appreciate it. Good luck to you.

Thad Oviatt: Thanks for the opportunity.

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