Young entrepreneurs get new program rolling on WRA's campus

Young entrepreneurs get new program rolling on WRA's campus

Boarding students Rain Wu '20, Andrew Huang '20, and Xi Gong '18 started the 2017–18 academic year with suitcases full of bicycle tires —24 tires to be exact. These students are working on a bike share program to help their fellow classmates find an easier way to move across campus and around Hudson. With Seymour Hall, WRA's main academic building, undergoing a historic transformation, classes are widespread across the 190-acre campus, especially with the addition of the Learning Community behind the MAC. So when the trio came back for their sophomore and senior years, they brought back solid tires as the first step in getting their bike share program rolling.

"Even after Seymour reopens the bikes will always be a good convenience and fun," said Rain, one of the three student-entrepreneurs. "Many of us love going downtown to Hudson for coffee and shopping and sometimes to parks like Hudson Springs — riding a bike makes things easier and more fun."

Andrew added, "Hudson is pretty and it's perfectly suited for a program like ours. After we get our campus program off the ground, we hope to collaborate with the city of Hudson to grow the program."

One of their first steps was fundraising so they could purchase the bikes. Thanks to WRA's Dads Club, they secured the dollars they needed. The students were awarded $4,200, which went toward paying for the seven new bicycles. They received seven additional bikes from WRA's library, bringing the program's total number of bikes to 14.

The grant also paid for the locks and kickstands they ordered and for the monthly subscription fees for the app-based program and GPS they're utilizing. Remaining funds will be saved for bike repairs and replacement. With the help from their advisor, Dr. Ralf Borrmann, and the assistance of a local bike shop in Hudson, the students built the bikes in the Wang Innovation Center.

The students are running the program through an app called Lattis because it has great reviews and is user friendly.

"The app was already designed," said Andrew. "We didn't have to recreate the wheel, so to speak. Instead, we are able to work on the actual mechanics of getting the bikes to campus and encouraging students to participate."

Lattis lets you easily locate and access the bike share with a simple tap on your smartphone. The students once again utilized the Wang Innovation Center for the project — this time, utilizing the 3D printers to print the latches needed for the bike locks.

Another proud moment for the trio was participating in the fifth annual pitch night competition as part of Hudson's Global Entrepreneur Week. They were selected as one of the seven finalists to make their pitch to a panel of judges in front of a live audience — similar to Shark Tank — with $3,000 in prize money on the line. While the young entrepreneurs didn't bring home any winnings that night for the bike share, they were standouts in the crowd and learned valuable lessons. Notably, they were the only student presenters since the event's inception.

To date, they've done beta testing and worked out glitches with utilizing the app. The bike share will be free to the WRA community and should officially launch this spring.

Please enjoy a photo slideshow of the bike assembly from earlier this fall: