Su$tainable Mobility, Volume 7
This newsletter aims to separate the signal from the noise for making money in all things sustainable transportation: Electrification, mode shift, active and public transit, and mobility aggregation, across both people and goods movement.
Feedback is always welcome. Feel free to DM me on Twitter or send an email with your thoughts on what else you might like to see as content.
Disclaimer: This newsletter represents my own thoughts and not those of any employer. I will always disclose when I have a financial relationship with a company cited.
QUICK HITS: Fast takes on notable news from last week
The public EV charging experience is far from good.
It took a couple of decades for the gas station business to replace motorists buying fuel in containers at dry goods stores or pharmacies. It may take time to get to a seamless public EV charging experience and business model.
As we enter more turbulent times, both the public and private sectors have an opportunity to think about how to invest in decentralized mobility solutions with resiliency and redundancy.
🏪 Best Buy has started selling e-bikes, e-scooters, and e-mopeds.
Traditional bike retailing in the US has relied on a mix of mom and pop stores that did sales and aftersales (i.e., repair and maintenance), as well as big-box retailers like Big 5, Wal*Mart, and Target who usually provided sales but no aftersales. Best Buy’s Geek Squad adds an element of a service component that has been missing so far in the big box approach. This ratchets up the pressure on the mom and pop stores, who already have had a hard time getting enough e-bikes due to pandemic supply chain issues.
🛺 Power Global has designed a battery swap solution for India’s rickshaw market.
India continues to be one of the most interesting markets in the world for battery swap, and may well end up exporting some very interesting ideas to other markets.
💻 China wants a look inside the algorithms of mobility players.
Many governments desperately want to understand how algorithms are influencing social and environmental outcomes, but often lack the expertise in-house to effectively tackle the issue. Expect dozens of programs like this one in the US as governments take a long path towards finding policymakers with sufficient software expertise.
📲 Xiaomi has officially started its electric car operations.
Many Chinese software giants are investing in the EV space, but Xiaomi is notable for its consumer electronics expertise, including smartphones and scooters. The next micro EV breakthrough is more likely to come from here than a legacy passenger car manufacturer.
🧱 The pandemic accelerated America’s interest in converting garages to more useful applications.
I shared these thoughts on the supply versus demand dynamic between cars and home garages at the beginning of the pandemic. Good to see that progress continues.
📦 Contracts for local FedEx Ground rights may be the next Bitcoin.
As last-mile delivery continues to rise, owning a chunk of the logistics value chain is becoming a booming market.
STARTUP WATCH: Sustainable mobility startups (generally pre-seed or seed) to keep an eye on
🔌 Elvah (Germany): Universal EV charging subscription
☀️ Horizer (Germany): Flexible thin-film solar for vehicles as an aftermarket install
🛺 Mazi Mobility (Kenya): e-motorbike and e-3-wheeler w/battery swap network
🚦Nexton (Italy): Smart streetlight system
🏪 Parcelly (UK): Hyperlocal dark store fulfillment
🚲 RideZyft (Ireland): e-bike subscription
🔌 Voltpost (NY, USA): Level 2 lamppost charger solutions
FOUNDER Q&A: Driss Ibenmansour, Bloom Ride
Q: What does your company do?
A: We believe that, just like in the music and movie industry, people will be able to stream mobility and avoid the burden of owning vehicles. That’s why we started Bloom, an e-bike subscription service that gives you access to your own (not shared) premium e-bike and a complete stack of services from repairs to insurance.
Q: What is the problem your company is solving?
A: Owning a vehicle comes with multiple constraints and hidden costs. At the same time, free-floating options are still very expensive and not totally reliable. Our subscription model brings together the best of both worlds by offering the exclusivity of an owned bike with the flexibility of a shared one.
Q: How do you think about quantifying the sustainability impacts of your company in the mobility sector?
A: We are working on democratizing premium electric bikes through an all-inclusive and affordable subscription model. Our goal is to give access to high-end micromobility to as many people as possible.
Q: What funding stage is your company at and where are you headed next?
A: We just completed our Seed stage and are currently working on scaling our fleet to 2k active bikes in Paris by the end of this year.
Q: What business challenge are you most looking forward to addressing in the next year?
A: Scaling our fleet in a profitable and sustainable manner.
Q: What's the best book you've read in the last year?
A: Outliers from Malcolm Gladwell. The book tries to answer the question: what makes high-achievers different?
Q: Favorite guilty pleasure?
A: Currently binge-watching Money Heist on Netflix :)
Q: What advice would you give other founders in the sector?
In the beginning, focus on building the best possible product and service for a limited number of people. Scaling will come naturally once you have the right product-market fit.