A new delivery service relying entirely on electric bikes — Delfast — launched recently in the Ukrainian city of Kyiv.
The service — put together by the entrepreneur Daniel Tonkopiy — quickly proved a success, with the initial investment of ~$1,000 being made back in only the first few months. As it stands now, the business is doing roughly 100 orders a day — and keeps 30 couriers on staff, and 33 electric bikes as its delivery vehicles.
The quick success of the service demonstrates that the technology can be used to quickly and in a financially efficient manner fulfill market needs — very likely at a fraction of the cost (and carbon emissions) associated with the use of larger fossil fuel–powered delivery vehicles. Looks like the wave of the future, to my eyes.
Over 25 major internet stores now have corporate accounts with Delfast — with their service applying to any merchandise weighing less than 7 kilograms. Impressively, the price is set at a flat rate of $2 for anywhere within the city’s limits. The couriers keep a bit less than half of that themselves. (As someone who has lived in the general vicinity before, I’d say that this is pretty decent pay.)
The Kyiv Post provides more:
Delfast is on the cusp of expansion regardless of the tough economy. In February, the startup gained a $250,000 capital injection from the venture fund Imperious Group and CEO Tonkopiy, 36, plans to use the money for further advertising and capital expenditures, including new bikes and batteries. In the meantime, he’s trying to recruit Kyiv’s mega Internet retailers, such as Rozetka, Prom.ua, and Comfy.
Electric-bike delivery is novel to Ukrainian cities, particularly with their central cobblestone streets and pothole-plagued avenues. Yet traffic jams and rising gasoline prices boosted the appeal of the electric option and Tonkopiy was confident his idea would work.
One electric bike worth $700 can ride up to 120 kilometers without needing a charge. The amount of energy spent on 100 kilometers costs barely Hr 3, or 13 US cents, he said, while the average car expends around 10 liters of fuel on 100 kilometers, which is around Hr 200, or $8.5. Tonkopiy researched producers throughout Ukraine, selecting Kyiv’s Veola and Odesa’s Volta Bikes. He also found a talented engineer in Dnipropetrovsk, who moved to Kyiv to work with Delfast.
That right there is exactly the appeal of the technology. That is a downright huge disparity in associated costs, and exactly why electric bikes are often such a better (more efficient) use of fossil fuels than driving massive (and empty) trucks or SUVs around everywhere. This sort of thing is exactly what my vision of the near future for many regions looks like — less waste, more manpower, and lowered operating costs/investment.
Interestingly, Tonkopiy and his business partner Serhiy Denysenko often help deliver goods themselves. “Without participating in this work, it is impossible to ‘feel’ the market. You cannot understand the work of couriers and dispatchers in the smallest details unless you try doing it yourself.”
Very true. Sounds like he has a good head for the business. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this venture continued successfully for quite some time.
“Every project demands a lot of love and fun. I like to ride electric bikes myself, so this affection also adds to why I plan to popularize the service,” Tonkopiy noted.
Those interested in finding out more, or placing an order if you live in the area, can do so at the company’s website here.
Image Credit: Delfast
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