Student bikeshare company eo pivots to provide help in a time of need
Bikeshare company eo, started by Northwestern students in early 2019, has a new mission to deliver food and supplies to Evanston residents in need. The company, which offers a year-round dockless bikeshare solution to students on Evanston’s campus, found itself without riders during a virtual spring quarter. Rather than shutting down operations, eo partnered with Evanston Mutual Aid to deliver groceries and necessarily supplies to Evanston residents at home.
“When we found out our operations would be limited this spring quarter, we saw an opportunity to use our resources and our network to help, ” says Drake Weissman ‘20, CEO of eo.
eo was founded to fill a need that the founders knew was a big pain point for students commuting across campus. Biking from class to class was often difficult due to limited docking stations for public bikes, crowded bike racks and limited storage options. eo set out to make door-to-door bike transportation easy, affordable and reliable for Northwestern students. Through an app, students can see available bikes at bike racks across Northwestern’s campus and purchase a one-way ride to their class across campus.
In the company’s first six months of operation, eo provided 20,000 rides.
“We had done the consumer research to pinpoint the need, but we were still thrilled to see it catching on in those first few days,” says Weissman. “That’s when we knew we were really delivering a good solution.” eo was developed in a course called Innovate for Impact offered through the Farley Center for Entrepreneurship at the McCormick School of Engineering and has since taken up residency at The Garage, Northwestern’s hub for student entrepreneurship and innovation.
Today, the company is made up of three Northwestern students – some working remotely this quarter from their hometowns and others working from Evanston. The team manages the day-to-day operations involved in coordinating essential deliveries to Evanston residents with a higher risk of developing complications from COVID-19. Volunteers include Northwestern students, Evanston high school students and local residents. Volunteers are welcome to use their own transportation or borrow an eo bike at no cost to them.
“We hope to return to our mission of serving Northwestern students soon,” says Weissman, “but in the meantime, we will serve the Evanston community however we can for as long as we’re needed.”