Bixi Goes to New York
(6 pages of text)
In May 2011, the Public Bike System Company, based in Montreal, Canada, was preparing to answer a request for proposal by New York City to create a financially self-sustaining public bike-sharing system. Three years earlier, the company, owned by the Montreal Transit Authority, had created Bixi, a service that made bikes available to members through docking stations, powered by solar energy, spread across the city. Although its financial structure was still unproven, it was a promising solution that aimed to revolutionize urban transportation. In partnership with other private bike-sharing organizations, the company had successfully expanded to Minneapolis-St. Paul and Washington D.C. but had experienced problems with its implementations in Melbourne, London and Boston. Furthermore, the system in Montreal could not provide evidence of profitability, forcing the city government to step in by guaranteeing loans and providing additional cash flow. It also did not have a clear business plan as to how, when and where its international expansion should take place. Now, news of its problems in Montreal had made headlines in New York, putting the future of its expansion ambitions in doubt.
This case can be taught to undergraduate students or MBA students in courses such as international strategy, business strategy or international management. Its objectives are:
- To discuss the internationalization process of start-ups, including how to decide on international expansion, how to manage the growth and how to manage operations dispersed in different locations.
- To examine the governance of public-private partnerships, transparency in private organizations owned by governments and the challenges of launching innovative business models that go against more conventional or taken-for-granted business models.
Canada; United States; Australia; United Kingdom, Small, 2011
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