Ben Platt ’23

Oonee, Brooklyn, NY

This past summer I had the opportunity to work at the bike-parking startup Oonee in New York City. The goal of Oonee is to provide secure, free bike parking to cyclists in the New York metro area and eventually, the rest of the United States and the world. Founded in 2017, we now have an established presence in the New York micromobility sector and have received interest from dozens of cities and countries across the globe. As a Black-owned and operated company, Oonee was particularly attuned to the struggles of working cyclists of color. Therefore, our business model and advisory councils tried to prioritize these riders, who have historically been overlooked by New York City’s cycling infrastructure.

I worked on many different projects during my time at Oonee. One that I was particularly proud of was shipping our Oonee Mini Pod from rural France to the United States. The Mini was the newest addition to our lineup, meant to be the most ambitious curbside parking solution in the United States. Our design was modified from an existing product that had already been deployed in Paris, Marseille, and dozens of other French cities. We then added signature Oonee design elements such as a green roof and internet connectivity. The remaining challenge was getting the Oonee to our offices in Brooklyn. The international shipping industry has been greatly affected by Covid, so finding a shipping partner that met our three sometimes conflicting criteria of price, convenience, and speed was tough. In tandem with our French manufacturing partners I learned about the international shipping industry and ended up with a ship that satisfied our supervisor. Our pod shipped in late August and will be debuting in late September with New York’s future Mayor Eric Adams in attendance. This will be a major sign of progress for Oonee because we will have the enthusiastic backing and support of the next Mayor of New York City.

This internship has already had a great impact on my future career decisions and academic development. While Williams does not have a robust urban studies program, I have definitely been encouraged to continue pursuing my studies in political science and history, as well as justice and law studies. I gained a great amount of exposure to the startup industry, and while I do not think I will work in the private sector, I now have more perspective on what it could possibly look like. In addition, if I do go to work for the government, I will now have a far better understanding of how to work with startups and private industry. There is a bright future in the country for fixing the long-lasting problem of bike parking, and working at Oonee positioned me to be a part of this solution.

Lastly, I would like to give a few words of thanks. First, I would like to thank the ’68 Center for Career Exploration for administering the Alumni Sponsored Internship Program. Next, I would like to thank the Case Family; my experience would not have been 
possible without their generous support.