Future users of Jersey City’s bike hire scheme are highly likely to be riding a bike made in Saxony. Leipzig-based nextbike is taking part in a public tender to supply the city in New Jersey and has an excellent chance of winning the contract. In fact, the Saxon company is so optimistic that it staged an ingenious promotional campaign on Super Bowl Sunday.

Ralf Kalupner, CEO of nextbike, explains: “We thought long and hard about how we could get noticed in America with minimum cost and effort. We decided to take advantage of the huge interest in the final of the National Football League to demonstrate just how well our bike hire business model works.” The Saxon company parked their bikes in front of the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford and let American football fans take them for a test ride. Several hundred people took up the chance despite the freezing weather and loved the bikes. Conclusion: smart idea, modest cost, maximum impact. A typically Saxon solution!

15,000 Saxony-made hire bikes in action on streets around the world

It’s just 10 years since nextbike first began supplying bicycles that can be hired at one location via a mobile phone, terminal or app and returned to a different location. Every bike incorporates a panel where companies can advertise. The advertising revenue subsidises nextbike’s operations and keeps hire costs low. Some 15,000 nextbike two-wheelers are currently on the streets across four continents and the company continues to grow. This spring alone, Karlsruhe, Innsbruck, Budapest, Glasgow and Bath are all set to adopt the scheme.

“It all started in Dresden,” explains Kalupner. Originally from Franconia, he spent time cycling through eastern Germany in the 1990s and ended up staying. “I just fell in love with Dresden,” he says. After studying industrial engineering in the city, Kalupner went on to found nextbike in 2004 after moving to Leipzig. He recalls the company’s humble beginnings in a basement office and is no stranger to the highs and lows of being an entrepreneur. The first batch of bikes he ordered was paid for but never delivered, for example. “We’ve always dealt with everything as a team and with lots of Saxon enthusiasm. We never give up,” he says.

Virtually indestructible – extra-sturdy frames to the company’s own design

Today, the company employs almost 200 people in Leipzig. “Our trademark is that everything is developed in-house, from the bike frames to the system software,” says Kalupner. This approach allows individual adaptation, efficient processes and fast solutions. “If we win the US contract, we’ll definitely have to add some extra shifts. The New Jersey scheme envisages a total of 700 bikes but I’m not worried about that. After all, we managed to deliver 3,000 bikes to Warsaw on time!” says Ralf Kalupner with a smile. He’s already looking forward to it.