Q&A: Promoting the benefits of eBikes for all

This week we chat to brothers Ben and Dan Carr, the entrepreneurs behind the electric bike venture Lug & Carrie. The venture aims to push eBikes to the mainstream as a green and alternative mode of transportation for everyone through a weekly subscription service that allow users to make use of different types of eBikes that are suited to their needs. Despite having been launched right at the onset of the pandemic in February 2020, it has seen significant growth since, alongside the changes in mobility in recent years which is still being experienced today.

ISB: How did your love affair with eBikes start?

DC: Our love affair started with eBikes that allow you to do more than what you can do on a normal bike. My wife Janine and I used to ride around on bikes and tow our kids in a two-seater trailer when Ben convinced us to give a cargo eBike a try, based on his experience in Germany. About two weeks into owning it I completed a 12km trip in and out of the Melbourne CBD with my three-year-old Tom to pick up contact lenses and then on to picking up six-year-old Lucy from school, all in under an hour on a very windy afternoon but with no parking hassles and having fun the whole time. I sat back that evening and realised there was no other form of transport, normal bike, tram, train or car, that could have completed that trip.

ISB: Why did you decide on setting up a subscription model for Lug & Carrie?

DC and BC: We set out to create a business that accelerated cycling further into mainstream transport. Our initial customer research led to two key insights into the barriers to broader cycling adoption that our flexible subscription solves. One, a safe way to try an eBike at a reasonable price point would be important for accelerating the adoption of new technology and getting people to change existing behaviour. And two, there are many other key factors that need to work to keep people riding. Maintenance, flat tyres, insurance, new accessories etc, so taking the hassle out of all of that presented an opportunity.

ISB: What was the most daunting challenge in setting up a business like this and how did you overcome it?

BC: Doing it properly requires 100 per cent commitment. During the business case phase we toyed with one or both of us being part-time, but it’s really not an option. The first six weeks after quitting our jobs and sitting across from one another, building the product together, was the valuable investment we’ve made in the business.

ISB: How is the business looking at the current situation and making itself stand out as an alternative in mobility and transport?

DC and BC: The current environment is very positive for cycling and alternative mobility in general. The transition to more conscious living as well as the shakeup that COVID-19 has given us is driving individuals, businesses and government organisations to try new things. We make it easy for people to act on that desire for change and take the first step.

ISB: What is your vision for the business in a couple of years’ time?

BC: For Lug & Carrie bikes to be as ubiquitous in our neighbourhood streets as the family SUV and white commercial vans.

DC: And seeing all the healthy, happy people enjoying riding them.

ISB: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in this business journey that other entrepreneurs should remember as well?

BC:  Start with a quality product that solves a problem. Listen to customers and check your assumptions through testing. Also, Cashflow is king. Have a clear plan and only spend time on things that help you get you there.