Wed, Jul 12, 2017

​Contact:   Julie Lelonek
Office of Economic Development and Industry Relations
515-294-1562/jlelonek@iastate.edu

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CYGNET ANNOUNCES FIRST SALE OF THEIR INNOVATIVE BIKE-SHARE SYSTEM

AMES, Iowa (July 12, 2017) -- Cygnet, a bike-share company that provides a scalable solution for communities of all sizes, today announced it has signed a contract with the Clinton Convention and Visitors Bureau. The order, for a 20-bike sharing system, marks the first sale for Cygnet, a startup company within the ISU Startup Factory in the ISU Research Park.

“We are very pleased to have the Clinton Convention and Visitors Bureau as our first customer,” Mark Kargol, President and co-founder of Cygnet said. “Our bike sharing system is the perfect fit for the city of Clinton, as they were looking to provide users more opportunities to access the Clinton Discovery Trail and the nearby downtown shopping district.”

The Clinton Discovery Trail boasts 4.8 miles of paved path with scenic views along the banks of the Mississippi River. The trail links the city’s popular destination points of Riverview Park in the south with Eagle Point Park in the north. Clinton’s Downtown District is located within blocks of the trail.

“With our system, visitors will have access to bikes at 7 different docking station locations along the trail, making it convenient to checkout a bike and be on your way to enjoy the view and drop it off when you’re done,” Kargol said. “In addition, with our system users need not return the bike to a docking station; the bike can be taken within a pre-set GPS boundary and it will run without a station. Each bike has its own locking system.

“That makes us unique -- Cygnet has the only hybrid system on the market, combining both docking station based and stationless into the same system,” he added.

According to Kargol, the Cygnet Bike sharing system allows greater flexibility and ease of use than major competitors in the bike share market. Their hybrid system, combining both docking station-based and stationless into the same system, allows communities to install either system or a combination of both, based on their preference.

Mary Seely, Director of Clinton Convention and Visitors Bureau said Cygnet’s hybrid bike-sharing system is the perfect solution to meet the community’s needs.

“The whole town is excited to get the Cygnet Bike sharing system here,” Seely said. “Not only will this be wonderful for the community, but it will be a boon to tourism as well. The city has demonstrated there is so much to view and do along the riverfront. Having the bike sharing system will provide even more opportunities to access all these wonderful places to explore and will greatly add to the experience.”

Seely said there is flexibility in borrowing a bike and using it to reach a number of destinations.

“For example, if you were to come in at the marina and park your boat, you could hop on a bike and ride the entire Discovery Trail that goes from the south end of Clinton to the north end,” Seely said. “Or, visitors to Eagle Point Lodge can park their cars there and take a bike to ride down to our riverfront or just ride around Eagle Point, which is a phenomenal national park.”

With Cygnet’s hybrid system, the ride does not have to end there.

“The city of Clinton has added bike lanes to the downtown area. This system allows you to jump on a bike, ride to the Downtown District shops and visit the local favorites, such as the 392° Caffé to get a cup of coffee. You can take this bike and lock it wherever you go,” Seely said.

Seely said in addition to enhancing visitors’ experience, members of the community will get a lot of enjoyment using the Cygnet Bike share system as well.

“We also have a docking station going out in our Tech Park, which will allow people working in the Park to take a break and enjoy a ride around the area,” Seely said. “Riding a bike is such a great way to get out, get some exercise and clear your head. It’s something you can do as a family, or by yourself, and it’s so convenient, easy to use and affordable!”

The bike rider’s experience was top of mind as Cygnet’s founders worked on their proprietary design.

“Ease of operation and an enjoyable ride was important to us in the design of our bikes,” Kargol said. “We put a lot of thought into the details, such as using a belt drive versus a chain drive, since a belt lasts longer and doesn’t require grease. We also made sure the bike was fun and easy to ride, with a 3-speed hub, front and rear lights powered by a hub generator, an upright riding position with an adjustable-height seat, a rack on the back of the bike for transporting items, and a bell for increased safety.

“Even those who haven’t ridden a bike in a while can jump on one of our bikes and get the hang of it very quickly,” he said.

Other design factors that set them apart are the weight of the Cygnet Bike; a mere 40 pounds versus the standard 50-55 pound bike typically found in the market, and, the ease of checking out a bike. Cygnet uses a blue-tooth operated locking system that runs through a phone app. Everything is run from the app including registration and accessing billing information. Users can register on-site or from home through the app.

“We use MOVATIC software and LINKA-lock motorized locks. When you register a bike through the app, it connects to the lock and begins the charge,” Kargol said. “Once you are registered, you can use any MOVATIC system anywhere.”

For communities wishing to use bike-docking stations, Kargol said a service Cygnet provides is assisting with mapping out the best locations for the docking stations, helping to take the guesswork out of the process. Kargol added that, once a docking station is installed there is still flexibility in relocating it. “They can be placed, and then relocated to a new location at any time.”

Communities also have the option of customizing the bikes to suit their marketing needs, such as choosing bike logo colors that reflect the city’s color branding campaign. In addition, there is room on the bikes and docking stations for communities to place paid ads, which can help offset costs and at the same time, promote local businesses and attractions.

“Sponsorship opportunities are just another avenue for businesses to get their name out there too, and show support for the community,” Seely said. “The bike-share system is a new technology for this small community, but we are all rallying around it. It’s fantastic. It’s a safe, fun and exciting new offering for Clinton,” Seely said.

Plans are to install the Cygnet Bike share system by August.

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About Cygnet
Cygnet is a bike share company that provides a scalable solution for communities of all sizes.  With the ability to install 1 to 1,000 self-contained units, smaller communities, colleges and universities, hotels, and tourist attractions can provide a first class bike share system. For more information, call Mark Kargol at 515-210-8104.

About Startup Factory
The Iowa State University (ISU) Startup Factory is a 52-week intensive program housed at the ISU Research Park (ISURP). Entrepreneurs in the Startup Factory receive formal training, resources, and access to a network of business mentors, advisors, counselors, and investors in two 26-week blocks: the first a formal curriculum centered on business validation, and the second, customized to their individual business needs. For more information on the ISU Startup Factory program, call 515-294-7444 or visit isustartupfactory.org

About ISU Research Park
The Iowa State University Research Park (ISURP) is a 29-year-old real estate development community closely affiliated with Iowa State University. ISURP assists both established and startup companies in connecting with Iowa State’s vast infrastructure to grow their enterprises; whether through students, research entities, equipment or a multitude of other resources. ISURP is currently home to more than 70 companies, employs 1,700 people and occupies 600,000 square feet of commercial real estate on 400 acres. ISURP recently expanded into 200 acres of developable space, which will include tenant amenities, a park and multi-use trails. For more information on ISURP, call 515.296.4204 or visit isupark.org