Mark Derho: Triumph in the Central Park Bike War - A Pinnacle Client Success Story
Serving as the Executive Consultant for Operations and Marketing, I championed a profound shift in the Central Park and New York City bike rental landscape. Leading a diverse and skilled group, we launched a plethora of B2C marketing and B2B campaigns that fueled the expansion of the company and the industry as a whole.
Under my leadership, Bike Rent NYC saw an exponential surge in growth and outreach. When I first took on my role, our operations were limited to two outlets near Central Park. But thanks to targeted growth tactics, technological innovations, and a relentless focus on customer and partner satisfaction, we expanded our presence throughout New York City. By my exit, Bike Rent NYC had broadened its horizon to over 20 outlets, a testament to our team’s tenacity and the efficacy of our strategies.
Furthermore, I championed data-informed tactics, tapping into comprehensive market studies to produce reports that clinched a successful Request For Proposal (RFP) from the City of New York and the NYC Parks & Recreation Department. This strategic vision was pivotal in securing a $60M 6-Year RFP contract, granting us exclusive bike rental rights in Central Park and all Manhattan Parks. This move positioned countless tourists from the annual 40+ million Central Park visitors on our bikes. Throughout my tenure, Bike Rent NYC remained a market leader in sales, rentals, and services, further solidifying its business partnerships and affiliations.
In my role, I also had the mandate to supervise all tech-driven endeavors at Bike Rent NYC. We positioned Bike Rent NYC as a technology and marketing pioneer in the industry. This entailed spearheading numerous tech ventures, such as multiple Google top-ranked websites, a custom-developed Point-of-Sale (POS) system, and an Internet of Things (IoT) based workforce management system. These endeavors were pivotal in refining our operations and client interface, substantially contributing to our growth. A key collaborator in these projects was my long-standing friend and tech ally, Oleg Sunko. Our combined expertise yielded remarkable outcomes for the company.
Perhaps the most daunting challenge during my tenure was confronting unauthorized bike rental activities by “Bike Hustlers” in Central Park, especially around Columbus Circle. I tackled this issue with military strategy. A notable tactic was enlisting 100 Irish students on J1 summer visas to operate as marketers and sign holders in Columbus Circle and inside Central Park, asserting Bike Rent NYC’s position as the only legitimate vendor.
The Central Park Bike War led to confrontations with illicit bike vendors were frequently, often escalating to fights and group physical altercations requiring police intervention. In order to maintain the legality and safety of our operations we collaborated closely with law enforcement including participating in the Police Paid Detail program. The PPD program provided two uniformed police officers inside Central Park at Columbus Circle as security for myself and our team. I was also attacked physically, and on another occasion, a Bike Hustler attempted to stab me with a broken bottle, and so on.
As the face of the company, I didn’t just helm strategic operations but also sculpted our public identity, and starting with rebranding Sayat Bike Rental to Bike Rent NYC. I was the voice behind press releases, presented our achievements to the media, and often represented the company in various public platforms.
My interactions with the media bolstered our commitment to transparency, responsibility, and top-notch customer service, enhancing our corporate brand. The media spotlighted our challenges and featured myself as spokesman, notably through a Channel 7 News segment, a NY Post article, and a segment on Telemundo spotlighting Columbus Circle’s situation.
Another notable accomplishment was the restoration of two historic kiosks in Central Park at Columbus Circle – see first image. Realizing their importance as city landmarks and potential business assets, I orchestrated a preservation and restoration initiative. Collaborating with expert architects and restorers as part of our contract and commitment to the city, we rejuvenated these kiosks while maintaining their historical and functional essence, reflecting our dedication to preserving NYC’s heritage and enriching Central Park’s visitor experience.
A core principle was not just business expansion but also the safety and well-being of our staff. I spearheaded initiatives to protect our employees from the threats of illegal bike vendors.
To encapsulate, my tenure at Bike Rent NYC was characterized by strategic vision, resilience against challenges, and a transformative impact on the company, ensuring Bike Rent NYC’s leadership in the NYC bike rental space.