A Nelson Mandela University student cycles to success

Published On: 25 November 2021|

I believe in pedal power! Those were the words a Nelson Mandela University student, Mr Charles Mbhele, began with, as he showcased his bicycle company QuikStart.

He was a finalist in the Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education, EDHE Entrepreneurship Intervarsity 2021 event that was hosted from the Premier Hotel on the East Rand, on 19 November.

Entered in the Existing Business: General category, Mbhele (above) was one of 28 candidates at the third annual Intervarsity in which 4168 initial entries were received.

He hails from Pinetown, outside Durban, KwaZulu-Natal but is studying for a Bachelor of Art (Public administration and Industrial and Organisational Psychology) at NMU.

He said his company name, QuikStart, grew out of finding a solution for students to move efficiently to and from campus. The idea — a quicker way of moving and getting a head-start compared to students who walk to campus – became a business.

“In my first year I walked from my off-campus accommodation to school, often arriving late for my 7.45am lecture. So, I bought a bicycle,” Mbhele relates his story. “I noticed that I could leave home later and still make it on time for my first lecture. Essentially I was moving quicker than most students. That’s when I though about renting bicycles to students.”

And that is what he did.

Sell, Rent, Buy & Fix

QuikStart buys, sells, rents and fixes pedal cycles. “Someone wanting to rent a bicycle visits our website and completes a booking form. They need to show their ID when collecting at our bike station at NMU.”

Mbhele plans to grow his business through diversification. “We are moving towards industrialisation and want to manufacture pedal powered machinery used for production. We currently make money through bicycle sales, parts sales, buying and selling used bikes and rentals.”

He markets his business through Google adwords and because he has a tourist clientele, through Trip Advisor. He says that while they are not the only bicycle business in the seaside city of Gqeberha, “we are the most affordable and open 7 days a week”.

He said he also offered long-term subscription rentals requiring no deposit but offering great customer care. “It’s what gives us the edge,” he said.

Charmain Naidoo is a contract writer for Universities South Africa