The Bike-Powered Coffee Cart That Could Take On Starbucks

With a solar-powered-battery powering the coffeemaker, Wheely's wants to reinvent the franchise model: sustainable, hip, and affordable--but with the power of a global brand.

There are over 13,000 Starbucks in the U.S. In cities like New York, where there are over 100 locations in Midtown Manhattan alone, it feels like there's one on every block. So it isn’t exactly easy to start an independent cafe that can compete. Depending on location, startup costs for a storefront space can be a few hundred thousand dollars or more. But a Swedish design firm hopes to make it possible for young people with small budgets to start their own mini coffee shop--with a bike-driven, solar-powered mobile cafe.
The designers hope to reinvent the franchise model, making a chain that a younger generation might actually want to invest in (and that they can afford--in Europe, where Starbucks is beginning to offer franchises, the cost is around $250,000).
“We wanted to use what we learned from working with big brands,” says Per Cromwell, cofounder of the Nordic Society For Invention and Discovery, the company developing the mobile cafe. “The idea is to use all the advantages of a franchise; branding, social media, pricing and product development, but in a much cheaper way.”
The project is currently raising funds on Indiegogo, and for an early-bird price of $1,800, someone can get an entire Wheely’s Cafe: A bike with a solar-powered battery to run a coffeemaker, a sink, storage, and an umbrella to protect customers from the sun and rain. Everything is branded with the Wheely’s identity so cart owners have the advantage of being recognizable...
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