In just two weeks, Wheely's ("the world's smallest cafe") Indiegogo campaign has been fully funded, and then some, at over 20K. That means that lots of people think that a franchised bike-cart cafe is a great idea. What exactly is a bike cart cafe? 

According to the campaign page: "A Wheely's is a full service café enclosed in a bicycle. The bike serves most things any traditional café would serve; coffee, tea, cold drinks, juices, pastries, fruits and even salads and sandwiches."

The concept has plenty of advantages. It brings together a proven business idea (coffee sells), with brand recognition and the benefits of franchising a global company: premade graphics, design, social media, and solid product — in this case, sustainable coffee that is bought in bulk so prices for vendors are lower.

It is low-cost enough for someone with an entrepreneurial spirit — but not necessarily the chunk of cash that would be needed to start a typical brick-and-mortar food-service business — to run with it. The initial franchises were sold at a discount, $1,800 and $2,500 respectively, and now the rest are available at $2,900 and up. Compare that to the hundreds of thousands it costs to open a Starbucks or Subway, and it's obvious that Wheely's is within reach of many more people who would love to prove their business chops. 

Not only is Wheely's an opportunity for young entrepreneurs to start their own business at a low cost, it's also a low-impact one. Compared with the space that a Starbucks takes, a Wheely's is significantly more compact — and portable. (You can go where the people are — near a bus stop in the early morning, then bike over to a park during midday —t hen move to the route parents take after school!) And along with this flexibility comes a much lower carbon footprint. Being people-powered makes a difference, as well as being small and lightweight, and to top it off, a solar-powered battery keeps the coffeemaker going. 

“We love the small independent coffee shops but can’t but admit that belonging to a brand is an advantage," Per Cromwell, cofounder of the Nordic Society For Invention and Discovery, the company that developed Wheely's, told Fast Company. “We think we’ll challenge Starbucks more with a branded coffee instead of an unbranded one. The last 40 years has seen this huge success of the global brands.”

Twelve bike-cart setups have already been purchased through the campaign, which means that you might see a Wheely's bike-cart in a city or town near you. (Sorry, looks like Manhattan is already taken!)

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Starre Vartan ( @ecochickie ) covers conscious consumption, health and science as she travels the world exploring new cultures and ideas.

Starbucks' new competition: A $3,000 bike-cart
Wheely's coffee and beverage franchises are carbon-neutral and ready to compete with brick-and-mortar stores.