06 Nov eBike Shack Helsinki rents electric bikes in the city centre
Electric bikes make cycling easier and more enjoyable. Heikki Hamunen and Henni Virtanen offer a new way to see more of Helsinki in a short time.
When Heikki Hamunen was a child he dreamed of becoming a chef or a lawyer, he didn`t expect to become an entrepreneur. Now he has his own start-up business eBike Shack Helsinki with his business partner Henni Virtanen.
eBike Shack Helsinki is an electric bike rental shop in Helsinki which also organizes guided bike tours during the summer season. Hamunen and Virtanen founded their business in spring 2015 and opened their doors at the end of last June.
The idea of an electric bike rental shop came when Hamunen was travelling in Europe, where electric bikes are already common as a travel product. In Finland however, there were no e-bike rental shops yet. Hamunen and Virtanen wanted to do something new and bring these e-bikes to Finland as well.
The difference between a normal bicycle and an electric cycle is that an electric bike is equipped with a sort of assisting motor which makes cycling easier. There are five outputs from which people can choose the level they want. However, an electric bike isn`t a motorbike.
“You still need to move your legs but cycling is very light and easy. If there´s wind or uphill you can cycle as easily as on flat ground”, Hamunen explains. On the other hand it’s also possible to cycle without any electric assistance.
Travellers are the main target group for eBike Shack Helsinki. Electric bikes are an easy way to see more of the city in a short time. Hamunen says that so far Helsinki is the only city in Finland which is large enough and has enough travellers for this kind of business.
In the long run, Hamunen thinks e-bikes will take their place all over Finland too. “It is said that after ten years there will be no other bikes than electric bikes.”
Last summer eBike Shack Helsinki had their spot on Erottajan aukio, in the centre of Helsinki. Hamunen himself worked as a full-time entrepreneur during the summer season. He also studies tourism management in Haaga-Helia.
However, starting a business may not always be easy. Heikki Hamunen and Henni Virtanen have also had their own difficulties. Summer season is short in Finland and especially the previous rainy summer affected their business. “It was quite a rough summer”, Hamunen says.
Because of the bureaucracy of the city they also had to postpone the opening day for a month. “To get the area we rent for our business we had to fill out many forms and it took two to three months to get the permission from the city. It´s a very slow system”, Hamunen explains.
Hamunen says it is very important to believe in your business idea and invest in it to get the loan and make other people believe in your idea too. StartUp School`s teacher, Juuso Kokko, helped Hamunen and Virtanen to develop theirs. “He always told us to what was good and what was not. He was very objective in expressing his ideas because he is an entrepreneur himself.”
Hamunen thinks it takes more effort from students to get people to take them seriously. “For example, if you call once or send an e-mail `we have this and this idea` nobody really cares.” After all, persistence and pushing people is what paid off. Now they have succeeded to get some business partners like the electricity company Helen Oy.
Heikki Hamunen and Henni Virtanen have a three-year-plan for their start-up so they will continue developing their business at least for the next two summers. In the future, they will focus on marketing, and keep their attention especially on guided tours.
“We try to sell them to other service providers to sell our products beforehand, for example for the travellers before they come to Finland. That way we could succeed in markets.”
Text: Sinimaria Halonen