founder

Founder Profile: Roula

Summary

Traveling with a bicycle can be frustrating and cumbersome. Cyclists on the go have a limited number of options when it comes to rentals. Roula offers a concierge service for high-end bicycles for traveling cyclists. Other services include guided rides, storage, recovery services, bike wash, memberships, and merchandise. In addition, the corporate headquarters in Manhattan can be rented for charity and corporate events and rides.

We sat down with the founder of Roula, Mark Voysey, to learn more about how Roula came to be, how he and his team plan to scale the business, and more-

Olivia Strobl

For those who don’t know, what is the genesis story of Roula?

Mark Voysey

Having found it incredibly challenging to find a hi-quality road bike to rent efficiently and fit in with my work/travel schedule, I decided to explore the marketplace and connect supply with demand and solve the problem! 

 

Mission: “Make life easier for the traveling cyclist”  

Olivia Strobl

How do you plan on allocating funds raised in this round to scale the business?

Mark Voysey

Depending on the levels achieved we will scale up NYC, improve IT / UX, staff up and expand to another market.  

Olivia Strobl

Do you have any competition, if so, how do you differentiate?

Mark Voysey

Few, if any are servicing the hi-end road bike market and Roula is focused on the Hotel and travel networks, corporate experiences and content development above and beyond the core foundation that is renting the best road bikes in the market from Pinarello.   

Olivia Strobl

Do you have any early reviews of the product?

Mark Voysey

We have a 90%NPS and incredible anecdotal and social feedback, plus scores of returning customers confirming that Roula is absolutely doing something right and needed in the marketplace.

Olivia Strobl

What kind of traction do you have to date?

Mark Voysey

Having been open just over a year we have a growing community in the low ‘000’s that are renting, returning and hundreds of paying members.

Olivia Strobl

You mention several different verticals on your raise page. What other services do you offer outside of rentals?

Mark Voysey

As referenced above, outside of rentals we are: 

 

  • Producing corporate events and activations 
  • Growing our Htls partnership network
  • Partnering with leading tour and travel groups globally
  • Selling ex-demo bikes
  • Offering merch, bikes storage, and mechanic services 
  • Offering recovery services
  • Developing a business content series with Global Digital partners   

 

 

Olivia Strobl

What are your plans for expansion?

Mark Voysey

Key business travel hubs are our focus.

Olivia Strobl

What are the biggest risks associated with your business?

Mark Voysey

Cash flow while we look to expand to serve markets. Then awareness and trial as fast as possible, (we know they come back!) and that comes relatively quickly via a highly connected and viral athletic community. 

Olivia Strobl

How is your team uniquely positioned to win out in this market?

Mark Voysey

Skill sets across marketing partnerships, sponsorship and experiential, retail bike stores and servicing and digital social acumen.  

Olivia Strobl

What does your business model look like?

Mark Voysey

Roula is a new breed platform that isn’t a traditional brick and mortar OR purely digital, but a hi-bred of both, touching multiple engagement points and operating mid deal flow throughout the community (travel, well-being, corporate, content, resales, and merch) 

Olivia Strobl

As you think about the business 5-10 years down the road, what do you see exit opportunities looking like?

Mark Voysey

There are for key potential suitors for Roula: 

1) Traditional media and Fitness / Gear titles & channels looking to expand their revenue opportunities through subscription and advertiser supported experiences while traditional media budgets continue to decline. (Rodale, Bicycling, GCN, NBCSports…) 

 

2) Digital-only platforms that have become the digital glue for this community. Roula is a logical physical glue providing access to the sport. (Mapmyride, Strava or Zwift…)

 

3) Brick and Mortar spaces looking to extend their reach beyond the four walls as most athletes tend to look outdoors for exercise whenever possible. Roula is the perfect year-round partner in climatic markets where members freeze their dues to head outside, we can maintain the relationship for our partners. (Equinox, FlyWheel, Peloton…)

 

4) Travel platforms looking to layer in core services and relevant quality products. (Amex Travel, Equinox Explore, Marriott Bonvoy, AirBnB Experiences…)   

We at KingsCrowd are excited to see where Mark and his team take the company. Roula is currently raising funds on the Microventures portal and has been rated a Deal To Watch by KingsCrowd.

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About: Olivia Strobl

Olivia comes to KingsCrowd with a background in venture capital and technology. She spent time at Glasswing Ventures, an AI-focused venture fund in Boston, before joining the KingsCrowd team. There she helped develop machine learning algorithms for the opportunity qualification of preseed and seed-stage startup companies. Prior to her time at Glasswing, Olivia worked in a lab studying the neural correlates of attention. She holds a degree in Neuroscience from Wellesley College.

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