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Episode 36: Koloni Partners with DSM to Generate Revenue, Empower Community

Episode 36: Koloni

October 25, 2019

Koloni is a company that enables affordable sharing of bikes, scooters and other items for communities that do not typically have access to this type of experience. The organization’s vision is to minimize ownership of items to create a more sustainable planet through bike sharing and the smart locker. Kate Lyon, co-founder of Koloni, talks with the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s Executive Director of Entrepreneurial Initiatives Mike Colwell about Koloni’s efforts and the future of the company.

The Smart Locker

A lot of Koloni clients are interested in the smart locker, a device that allows the client to rent or sell small items such as a basketball, soccer ball or pretty much anything that can fit in the locker.  For example, Kate explains, let’s say an apartment complex wants tools available for people to use. They can put them into the smart locker and they’ll be exclusively available to those with the code. You can even charge someone to use tools that people only need once or twice a year that they don’t want to buy themselves. Instead, they can rent it from the smart locker when they need it.  

Koloni Business Model

Koloni provides hardware and infrastructure for clients to manage these sharable items. The users download the  free Koloni app. Kate discusses how branding within Koloni changes based on the city. Hard goods are branded for main sponsors, communities, etc. One example is Clinton, Iowa. Clinton’s bike sharing system was branded MyBike, but everything is done through the Koloni app and backend system.  

LAUNCH Accelerator in San Francisco

Along with Koloni co-founder Bryan Dewey, Kate attended the LAUNCH Accelerator. The focus of the program is honing their three-minute pitch cover the entire business plan. Each week, Koloni and others in the LAUNCH accelerator would pitch to investors.  Mike discusses how practicing pitching is integral to a small business’ success and that startup founders might have to pitch 400-500 times to get the capital they need to move to the next stage of their business.  

Risk + Liability

Every business has risk and liability. As an attorney, you’re trained to spot risk. Kate’s experience is that you see the same problems in different businesses. The discuss the importance of paying for good legal and touch on the difficulty of this for startups who are just getting started. You want to find someone who can write a contract for the industry and the law.

The Future of Koloni

Final development of the smart locker is currently underway. Kate says with the money they raise moving forward, they want to move into different locations and different verticals. Currently, there are around 30 systems in five states.

Listen to the entire podcast: https://www.buzzsprout.com/162832/1800049-kate-lyon-koloni

Download Koloni on the App Store.

Download Koloni on Google Play.

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Startup Stories DSM

Startup Stories DSM is a podcast featuring conversations with entrepreneurs who share both their victories and failures on their paths to success. It is produced by the Greater Des Moines Partnership.