Spotlight on Startups

Bamboobee.. And The Circle Of Life

Note: Article originally published on Poached Mag.

We had the chance to be part of the Clean & Green Hackathon that took place on the weekend of 26 to 28 April, and while there was seriously an amazing amount of speaker content and workshops, the one presentation that left the deepest impression on me was by Ah Sun Chuah of Bamboobee: your handcrafted bicycle with a purpose.

Recently, there was a piece on crowdfunding with the promise of gradually introducing more nuggets of what that’s all about, so we’re thankful that Bamboobee’s crowdfunding campaign came along at the right time – with just slightly over 30 hours before it comes to a close.

Sitting in for his presentation helped us to better appreciate why Ah Sun chose to go via the crowdfunding route: He had a great story to tell.

In essence, the Bamboobee bike, or “obee”, is the world’s first tech-based bicycle handcrafted from bamboo, and each bike tells the story of pursuing a forgotten passion – adventure travel. In 2009, he embarked on a solo 12,000 km motorcycle ride from India to Russia, which had him crossing 14 countries in eight weeks, including Pakistan, Iran and Turkey. Upon “ditching” his motorbiking by way of giving it to a Russian local, he made his way back to Singapore by more conventional modes of transport, crossing another nine countries in four weeks.

You would think that one would have been exhausted by now, but this motorcycle expedition only inspired him to take a personal “Circle of Life” adventure where he set out to discover more about himself, and cycled over 6,000 km around Central Asia on a self-crafted bamboo bicycle in nine months. And why bamboo? Simply because it provided him with a sustainable mode of transport.

Bamboobee is an ambitious passion project, a continuation from this Circle of Life expedition – where Ah Sun drew strength from the support and belief of a trusted few to create more bamboo bikes for people like you and I, to share with us his joy upon seeing the faces of countless villagers and curious children who enjoyed learning together with him about the “science” behind the bamboo.

For cycling enthusiasts, you’d be glad to know that the obees look pretty damn stunning, and are great even for the harshest terrains (as tested by Ah Sun).

obee Sunny: sponsored by Bamboobee as the Chairman’s prize for the hackathon

For the eco-friendly folks, you’d love that for every obee purchased, three bamboo saplings will be replanted, and after the bamboo has matured three years later, you can turn it into another bicycle – for your loved ones or “donate” it for other enviro- pursuits, allowing the bamboo to come one full circle.

Takeaways from Ah Sun included,

1) Having no background in a particular area of interest is not a good excuse; passion can sometimes just be enough for you to embark on an insane project.

2) Cool projects don’t just happen in “exciting” parts of the world like Silicon Valley, etc. Ah Sun made it clear that he was a regular guy born and bred in Singapore. If you want to accomplish something, just go and get it done.

3) And lastly, quoting the man himself,

May all of us gain the awareness to find the simplicity of life.

And of course, one man’s passion can truly inspire many more to follow.

Bamboobee’s crowdfunding campaign is down to its last 30 hours (as at 10am, 29 April) on Kickstarter. Make this story come alive here.

Image Credits: Bamboobee, Ah Sun Chuah

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