Exeter graduate, James Symes has co-founded, the Bike Club.

Exeter graduate entrepreneur raises over £1 million for circular economy start-up backed by the founder of Fitness First

the Bike Club, a subscription lending business, has raised over £1m in a seed round led by the founder of Fitness First.  Co-Founded by Exeter graduate James Symes, the financial technology company provides pay-monthly kids bikes which you exchange as your children grow. 

With thousands of members nationwide, the Bike Club is bringing the subscription model to bicycle ownership.  Members simply subscribe to a bike and then can choose to exchange, own or return it.  This form of subscription lending offers a sustainable alternative to purchasing high-quality goods and is the first financial service to target the circular economy.

James is no stranger to the startup world.  Whilst studying at Exeter, he and a friend, George Taylor, founded Taylor Symes Ltd., a bicycle parts business.  They won the University of Exeter’s Smart Solutions award for Student Entrepreneurship in 2010. George Taylor, also an Exeter graduate, has continued to run the company, growing it to over £1.5 million turnover and employing 15 people with no external investment.

Speaking of his recent funding round James said: “It's great to have brought in such a distinguished group of investors.  In much the same way Fitness First pioneered health clubs, we want to bring the club model to the bike industry.  The skills and network I built at Exeter university have served me well in getting to this point.  Exeter has a real culture of entrepreneurship.  Studying there was a hugely valuable experience for me and showed me what was possible in entrepreneurship.”

James continued: “It is great to hear about all the fantastic developments and capability in Exeter’s business support provision via SETsquared Exeter and the Student Startup team. The Deck space and entrepreneurial modules now made available to students and graduates at Exeter are brilliant.”

Joe Pearce, Head of Business Support said: “It's great to hear about James’ success with the Bike Club, it’s a fantastic venture. At Exeter, through the provision of enhanced research and development space, tailored programmes, equipment and support, we want to retain entrepreneurial talent and encourage forward-thinkers like James to do business here and strengthen our region.”

the Bike Club was founded in 2016 to bring disruptive consumer finance ideas to bicycle ownership.  Co-founded by husband and wife team, James Symes and Alexandra Rico-Lloyd.  James previously worked for global accountancy firm KPMG, in various roles including as Associate Director to the Chairman of the UK firm.  Alexandra comes from an operational technology background and previously worked for Mayor Boris Johnson.  To discover more about the Bike Club visit the website.

During 2015-2016 the University of Exeter created more than £1.1 billion in economic output and supported more than 11,000 jobs. 

Date: 10 May 2019

Read more University News