BooGood Bicycles Makes Sweet Rides for a Good Cause
Published: Friday, April 27, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 30, 2012 13:04
Derrick Loud has traveled more than 100 miles on the handmade bamboo bike he built in his studio apartment.
Everywhere he went with his bike, he turned heads and garnered interest for his startup company BooGood Bicycles. The business venture, which was recently announced as a semi-finalist in the national Dell Social Innovation Challenge, plans to adopt a one-to-one sales model to benefit disabled individuals in underdeveloped countries.
“We are providing people with a product that would give them the power to do good and change someone’s life,” said Loud, an ASU graduate student studying biomedical engineering.
In 2010, Loud was challenged to discover a solution for an all-too-common problem. Wheelchairs are donated annually to the nearly half a billion people living with disabilities, but most wheelchairs aren’t designed for the rugged terrain of developing countries. For one 10-year-old boy stricken with polio, his donated wheelchair couldn’t trek the unpaved roads leading to his school in Malawi.
With the young boy in mind, Loud developed a bamboo hand cycle that, once attached to a wheelchair, transforms it into a hand-driven tricycle capable of cruising rough roads and giving that boy and others in his situation increased mobility.
“I got the chance to build a prototype of the hand cycle and sent it to that 10-year-old boy in Malawi, and just the feeling of being able to build something yourself that has a huge impact on someone’s life is what I’m really excited about and I want to do it on a much wider scale,” said Loud, who works at BooGood Bicycles with ASU seniors Salim Zeitoun and Kris Saunders and incoming freshman Doug Liu.
For each eco-friendly bamboo bike sold in the US, an attachable hand cycle will be built and donated to someone in need in Africa.
Within the first year, Loud said BooGood plans to sell 50 to 100 bikes by marketing to ASU students. With a bike population of 15,000 students and in a city with more than 165 miles of bikeway, the BooGood crew is confident it will be a success.
“I’m looking forward to seeing it take off because I know it will,” Zeitoun said. “Once people see the bike and see what we are doing, I’m very confident that it will become a really big business and grow really quick.”
“A lot of people have told me it’s the coolest bike they’ve ever seen,” Loud added.
Bamboo bikes are building more and more interest throughout the country because they’re an eco-friendly alternative to aluminum and steel and absorb vibrations, which allow for a smoother ride.
BooGood intends to sell frames for $599.99 and completed bikes for $849.99, with prices expected lower as the group perfects the manufacturing process. These are a bargain compared to other bamboo bike frames on the market, which can cost more than $1,000.
Before the bikes hit the market, BooGood is looking to grow support and capital to set the company’s ideas in motion.
If Loud and co. are awarded grants from competitions like the Dell Social Innovation Challenge, their first step will be to develop a bamboo bike production facility in Arizona and partner with existing organizations in Africa to start a hand-cycle production facility.
Liu, a high school senior at the Bioscience High School in Phoenix, wants to employ high school students to build the bikes stateside and give them an opportunity to influence change in other countries.
“I want to be that connection so that I can bring in other high school students and give them an opportunity to help in a third-world country and learn outside of their high school experience,” he said.
Eventually, BooGood plans to start an ASU Bamboo Bike Building Club where students will build a bamboo bike frame and proceeds from the$499.99 cost will go toward funding hand cycle manufacturing costs. The company also plans to market its product across the country and online, increasing the number of disabled individuals they help.
“We want to become the biggest bamboo bike manufacturer and seller in the US,” Loud said. “The more bikes we sell the more people we are able to help.”