Trinity Launchbox start-up ProMotion is a platform that connects brands with bicycle owners.

ProMotion provides the opportunity for advertisers to use private bicycles as a medium for advertising, whilst simultaneously associating their brand with positive health and wellbeing, and rewarding people for their eco-friendly, health-positive choices.

“City bike schemes often involve a brand partnership, which displays the brand name somewhere on the bikes, and the brand gets a lot of exposure from that,” said co-founder Lauren O’Reilly. “These brand partnership deals with city bike schemes, however, are often multi-million, multi-year deals, with no flexibility.

“We want to incentivise people to cycle, by connecting them with the brands they know and love, and in turn be rewarded for cycling”

“ProMotion offers brands a new opportunity to advertise out-of-home. We provide the opportunity for brands to use private bicycles as a medium for advertising, and in turn, cyclists are rewarded for cycling (and hence incentivised to do so)! Now, more than ever before, it is so important that those of us who can travel to work by foot or by bike, do so, and ProMotion helps to incentivise the movement towards this healthier, more eco-friendly form of transport. Over 100,000 people travel less than 4 kilometres by car, and we want to incentivise the switch to cycling for these types of journeys.”

According to O’Reilly, the out of home advertising market is worth over €80m in Ireland. “We plan to expand to other European countries, such as the UK, where the market is worth £1.1bn.”

The company was one of 10 start-ups that took part in the LaunchBox accelerator. LaunchBox, in partnership with Bank of Ireland, and managed by experts in Tangent, Trinity’s Ideas Workspace at Trinity College Dublin, provides mentorship, funding, access to alumni and investors, and the ideal collaborative environment to launch new start-up ventures. This is the eighth year of LaunchBox, but the first year that the programme is running online.

Rolling onto the start-up scene

man in white jumper beside woman in yellow coat.

ProMotion founders Bidemi Afolabi and Lauren O’Reilly

“We know that healthy lifestyles are key to having a healthier, more productive population, and if you can incorporate exercise into your commute, your daily exercise is automated”

The two co-founders of ProMotion are O’Reilly and Bidemi Afolabi. “We met in 2016 when we began our pharmacy degrees,” recalls O’Reilly, “and with an entrepreneurial flair in common, since then we have worked together on an Amazon e-commerce business, which now generates passive income.

“Based on this successful team effort, we ventured on this journey of promoting healthier, more sustainable lifestyles through ProMotion. Our combined experience in the fields of public relations, advertising and sales as well as having a passion for cycling, means we are the ones to drive this movement. We also have other members in our team who work on, the technical aspects of our app and wheel attachments. We also have advisory who guide us with their years of expertise in the areas of advertising, lead generation, sales, marketing and engineering.

“The real driver for ProMotion is the fact that, as pharmacy students, we are extremely passionate about health promotion. We know that healthy lifestyles are key to having a healthier, more productive population, and if you can incorporate exercise into your commute, your daily exercise is automated. We want to incentivise people to cycle, by connecting them with the brands they know and love, and in turn be rewarded for cycling. We are so passionate about this, and about the technology that will allow us to provide metrics to brands, something that is not yet commonplace in out of home advertising.

Switching into gear

Both founders have experience of the start-up ecosystem in two regions, as Bidemi is from Dublin and O’Reilly is from Kildare.

“Dublin’s start-up ecosystem is very welcoming, and to date we have only been met with kindness and a willingness to help, from anyone we have reached out to. The same applies across Ireland. We were also accepted into the Blackstone Launchpad Fellowship this summer, which is an international accelerator programme, however through it we connected to not only people from other countries, but with other Irish start-ups that we may not have come across otherwise, and have stayed connected since.

“The start-up ecosystem is thriving here, and we are so grateful to be surrounded by, and connected to, great minds in this entrepreneurial space here in Ireland.”

O’Brien said that the company is focused on generating revenue. “Due to our business model being low on infrastructure, using the bicycles people already own, our go-to-market strategy is not capital intensive, however in the near future as we expand, we will be looking to raise additional funding.”

No frills but plenty of thrills

To stay agile, the company relies on the cloud and mobile apps. “We love Microsoft Teams for sharing our screens and showing one another what we are working on. We also enjoy using Trello as a productivity tool. We go through what we need to prioritise for the week ahead on a Monday morning, and then check in on the list on a Friday afternoon to see where we are at with it, and sometimes will have added notes to a task if there is a development. Probably the most useful tool for us is OneDrive, because it allows us to edit documents and presentations live, and work on them together when we need to.

“We also used Figma to develop the very first rendition of our app ourselves, before handing it over to more expert hands, and it is now complete and being submitted to the app store!”

ProMotion’s early insights into start-up life have led to no-frills approach to business. 2To date, we have learned to look at the bigger picture. Whilst I find it can be easy to get caught up in the finer details, like Bluetooth technology and all the fancy additions you can have in an app, these things are not the core of our business, and without developing a foundation for your business first, there is no point in having all the frills that go with it. Focus on the micro-detail, but only if you always have a macro, higher-level view of your business in mind.”

Her advice to fellow founders is enjoy the journey. “If you don’t enjoy it, then what’s the point? There will always be another challenge, that’s the thing with starting your own business. If you spend the whole time praying you get through one challenge, only to be faced with another, you will burnout, and have a terrible time. Keep your reason for starting your business at the forefront of your mind, so that when you face a challenge or have doubts, your motivation and passion keep the fire lit.”

Written by John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 18 September, 2020

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