It’s one thing for a student to start a club or program on campus. It’s quite a different challenge to take that program and turn it into a business. Senior Ray Clarke is doing just that, taking the Ursinus Bike Share on the road. At least two other area colleges have signed on. This week on his spring break he is pedaling the pavement visiting colleges with the goal of getting at least six additional schools to sign on. A Business and Economics major and Sociology minor, Clarke hopes to visit another 40 schools by December. He learned to file non-profit papers and through his coursework understands what he has to make in profit to exceed his start-up costs.
In 2008 Clarke and Laura Ng, Class of 2009, created the Ursinus Bike Share, the second in the country at the time. Ursinus students embraced it: some 200 signed up, making it one of the largest clubs on campus. Clarke believes the high interest may have been due to students’ desire to decrease fuel emissions by avoiding driving cars on short trips. The Ursinus Bike Share allows students to purchase bikes at a discounted rate if they would like a bike for longer than 24 hours in the upcoming year. “Bike share has grown to be something we are proud of,” he says. “I thought other colleges could benefit.”
Clarke, of Glenolden, Pa., had been working at a bike shop since Junior year of high school. “I have always been interested in mechanics and business. I began working for myself when I was in the eighth grade doing small handy man jobs. I saw an opportunity to work with Ursinus Bike Share in its beginning stages and jumped.”
Helping the business is classmate Liz Hooper of Columbia, Pa. They plan to present the business plan during the campus Celebration of Student Achievement (COSA) April 13. The project fulfilled the college’s Independent Learning Experience (ILE) requirement.
Bikes at colleges get a lot of wear and tear. Although Ray is something of a mechanic, not everyone has that ability. To help them he designed a training program and provides an instruction manual so that students can troubleshoot and fix the bikes themselves.
“You can fix 90 to 95 percent of the problems on your own,” he says. He also includes information on being a sustainable business, down to recycling degreasing rags, and recycling bike parts. He personally will oversee the new programs at other campuses for a year. He also provides a log book and management program.
“I have learned a great deal about what it takes to set up and run a company,” he says. “I’m glad I started something in college because there are great minds here and you can bounce ideas off people, ideas that can better the community.” — By W.G., photo by Joshua Krigman 2011