We talked to Jan Střecha of Rekola bikesharing about renting a pink bike anytime one wants and riding for as long as one needs, and he had the following to say about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Jan Střecha: Hi! We’re doing fine, thanks for asking. It took some time for me to get used to the home office as I’m a really social person, but I’ve developed my own system of meeting my colleagues online regularly, and my inner social self is satisfied. I’ve caught COVID in October, but luckily I only had mild symptoms. Now I’m looking forward to donating convalescent plasma to help people in need.
Tell us about you, your career, how you joined Rekola bikesharing.
Jan Střecha: Rekola bikesharing was founded in 2013 by Vítek Ježek. At first, it was just a small group of bikesharing enthusiasts with the idea of repairing old bicycles and sharing them with each other. It grew into the Czech Republic’s bikesharing market leader. I personally joined Rekola in 2017. At that time, I was still studying grammar school, and I got a job as a bike mechanic. One can say I became a jack of all trades throughout the years – I’ve been working as a customer care specialist, sales representative, and more. I got to know Rekola inside and out. I’ve been part of our marketing department since 2019, and now I’m a Director of Marketing.
How does Rekola bikesharing innovate?
Jan Střecha: We are constantly innovating our product to fill the customer’s needs. Usually, the market does not provide us with products that solve our problems 100%, so we’re developing our own solutions. We’ve developed our own bike locks, e-bikes, even the bike itself was completely designed by our team. We are trying to innovate the way people perceive city mobility as it’s one of the things that can make city life better in general.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Jan Střecha: The pandemic is still hitting us as we are currently under the second COVID-19 wave in the Czech Republic. People are trying to prioritize individual transport instead of the public one. We are trying to take advantage of this situation as it helps us attract new customers. In spring, we partnered with Prusa Research (the biggest 3D printer manufacturer in the world) and košík.CZ (Czech online food retailer) and we were offering our services free of charge.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Jan Střecha: We had to prepare for one. There was a possibility of someone in our workshop getting COVID, which would mean that our whole mechanic crew would have to go to quarantine, and we wouldn’t be able to maintain our bike fleet in fully working order. Luckily we developed a system that separated our workshop workers into teams, so if anyone got infected, the whole team would not have to stay at home.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and Rekola bikesharing in the future?
Jan Střecha: I’m trying to diversify and organize my work as much as possible because stereotypical work and chaos bring me stress. It’s awesome that Rekola is giving me an opportunity to focus on work that fills me. Last year I also implemented a thing called the “5-minute rule” in my life. It basically says that if something can be finished in five minutes or less, you do that right away. It helped me minimize the number of small tasks that were filling my to-do lists.
We’re emphasizing work diversification in Rekola in general, not to get anyone stressed and overloaded with the same tasks every day. We’re also focusing on having good project management and internal communication. It’s really important for employees to know what is their specific subtask useful for – It really helps a lot in motivation when people understand the big picture of what they are working on.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Jan Střecha: Regarding marketing, our main focus isn’t fighting against other micromobility providers. We focus on getting people out of their cars. Providing an alternative to individual motor transport is really important to improve life in cities. For example, in Prague, most of the harmful air pollution is caused by motor vehicles – studies suggest it’s between 60–90%. And regarding public space, cars stay parked 90 % of the time. That means that they occupy 12 m2 (i. e. 130 square feet) of public space 90 % of the time. This space could be used so much better.
We’re constantly trying to improve our service. We’re bringing bikesharing to new cities and countries, we’re improving our bikes, and we’re also emphasizing cooperation with city governments to help them build cycling infrastructure more effectively.
Your final thoughts?
Jan Střecha: For many city dwellers, COVID-19 was an opportunity to try bikesharing as public transportation wasn’t the safest way to travel around the city. We can see that this situation changed people’s minds about bikesharing as many of them continued using it throughout late fall and winter, which wasn’t usual in the past years, and we hope to keep this trend going.
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