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Lime: Resuscitating Urban Travel by Greening It Up!


Traffic and transport are as much of a blessing as they are a burden. Cars and buses alone are responsible for 45.1% of the total air pollution, whereas 29.4% of the ‘contribution’ goes to freight trucks.

Noticing the growing perils traffic imposes on society, Toby Sun and Brad Bao decided to introduce simplified urban travel solutions. Inspired by the idea of a greener world, the two entrepreneurs created Lime, an all-green platform facilitating commuting and offering a great collection of electric bikes, standard pedal bikes, electric scooters, mopeds, and cars - all using a shared intercity system!

Lime is an automated platform operating through three simple actions: locate, scan, and ride! The app allows users to locate the nearest Lime-S base to them, scan the QR code imprinted on every transport mean and ride away!

Here‘s the story of Toby and Brad, two men armed with knowledge, patience, and skills to fulfill a majestic anti-pollution mission and enjoy the ride of their lives!

Chinese Mentality, American Practices

Today’s successful businessmen were once ordinary kids sharing a mutual passion. Both born in the 1980s, Brad and Toby grew up in humble families, where simplicity and modesty were respected values that every child had to adopt sooner rather than later.

Raised on the respect-and-be-respected Chinese mentality, the young boys nurtured a great love for their families and the environment. They knew from a young age that respecting people and nature equally was a must. They also learned that they had to work hard, be resilient, and stick to their guts to get what they wanted in life.

Growing up in China in the 80s and 90s came with its own challenges. Namely, transportation was quite expensive and unattainable, especially for children like Brad and Toby. Therefore, taking the bus to school was not an option, so walking on foot had to do.

As youngsters, Toby and Brad always demonstrated free spirits and adventurous lifestyles, so they soon alternated on-foot practices with biking, thinking it was not just the coolest thing, but the only available means of transport they could get their hands on. Intriguingly, instead of feeling forced to ride their bikes daily, especially in harsh weather, Toby and Brad loved every minute of it!

From 1993 to 1997, Brad studied at the Wuhan University, and there, he earned a BBA in International Marketing. At the same time, Toby’s ambitions didn’t differ much from Brad’s, considering how impressed he was by introducing revolutionary concepts and serving society with outstanding ideas.

Driven by the idea of learning and achieving, Toby earned a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Sun Yat-sen, where he studied from 2001 to 2005. Both Brad and Toby had always nurtured a desire to explore the marketplace worldwide, and especially in the US.

The Big Transition

As time passed by, Toby and Brad grew their aspirations towards their full entrepreneurial potential. Working at different companies and powering their careers with practice and knowledge, they spent some time switching between jobs, maximizing their experience, and sharpening their management and marketing skills.

But one company, in particular, changed the young entrepreneur’s course and allowed them to boost their expertise and master the skills necessary for creating a business of their own. The corporation’s name was Fosun International and it was one of the biggest Chinese holdings and multinational conglomerates, headquartered in Shanghai and later on, in Hong Kong.

Fosun International had its affiliates in 16 other countries worldwide and, at the time, it represented the business bridge connecting China and America, which both Toby and Brad saw as a promising opportunity. Soon after joining the company, the duo got to travel to the US, which they agreed to immediately and packed their bags to meet their future life.

Upon their arrival, Brad enrolled at UC Berkeley Haas Business School and earned his MBA in Hi-Tech Marketing and Innovation Management. Several years later, in 2013, Toby also acquired his MBA from the same university.

Personal Experiences & Global Branding

Living in America was a breeze, with the two friends enjoying the change and witnessing the rise of urbanization, culture, and business. But, there were a few things the two still missed back home, like the adventurous bike journeys they used to go on, the freedom that came with it, and the fresh air that filled their lungs in turn.

Eager to relive the sensation of those moments, Brad and Toby began traveling excessively, mostly to attend business meetings and conclude deals. Their travels would soon lead them to New York, and this one trip would unexpectedly turn their worlds upside-down and open the gates to endless business opportunities.

Stuck in the ever-known New York traffic jam, Toby and Brad knew they would arrive late for a meeting they had that day, so to prevent it, they stepped out of the cab and walked to their destination, all the while wishing they had their bikes to ride.

However, renting bikes at the time came with abundant paperwork to fill out, and the process took too long to complete. However, this sight misfortune also gave them their first business idea - to create a unique and urban platform model that would combine both traditional transport means and technologically advanced solutions!

Drive What Moves You

After spending a few years researching the transport and technology industries, in 2017, Lime was officially launched. Ready to hit the streets, the platform is a modern and sophisticated share-a-bike design, later expanded to e-scooters, e-bikes, mopeds, and other green solutions.

Lime’s primary focus is to manufacture eco-friendly vehicles that would both protect the planet by decreasing air pollution and put a stop to the overburdened transportation system. The company’s products are designed to be dockless, safe, accessible as well as affordable for everybody who loved renting green!

With their slogan - Your Ride Anytime - Lime is easing the process of navigating through traffic efficiently and contributes to reducing traffic-caused pollution at the same time. Once a ride is done for the day, Lime requires the users to take a picture of the used vehicle and its surroundings, so the platform can ensure the vehicle has been properly parked.

Lime Today

Despite the occasional backlash the platform faced, mostly regarding their vehicle’s usability and practicality, Brad and Toby’s Lime managed the fire and came back stronger and greener.

The company has significantly improved its operations throughout the years, and is now offering much safer and accommodating vehicles that have become the go-to solution for thousands of commuters, especially in metropolitan cities.

Over the years, Lime has raised a total funding amount of $945 million, over 12 rounds. The platform is funded by 45 investors, 8 of which are lead. Lime’s most recent contributors include Alphabet and Uber and in 2020, Lime itself acquired 2 companies - Jump Bikes and Boosted USA.

Today, the company’s main offices are located in San Francisco, but its services are also used in Asia, Europe, North America, South America, Oceania, Australia, and the Middle East. Lime even earned the 12th spot on LinkedIn’s list of Top 50 Startups, which was the first time the platform has ever been nominated.

Combining the best of the American and Asian cultures, Lime represents a strong warrior against pollution, eradicating ineffective traffic options and offering a greener, healthier, and super-functional solution that invites eager bikers and environmental enthusiasts worldwide to join along for the ride!