E-mobility solutions for last-mile connectivity have captured the market’s attention. The industry further blossomed when people commenced actively opting for a more eco-friendly option over conventional ways to travel. However, the micro-mobility industry went through a slump during the coronavirus crisis, but it is ready to take off again. The Irish dockless e-scooter startup Zipp Mobility’s latest funding round is a testament to that.
How it all began
Zipp Mobility was founded in 2019 by Charlie Gleeson, a 24-year old who recently graduated from the UCD Lochlann Quinn School of Business. He completed University College Dublin’s (UCD) mentoring programme for student entrepreneurs and was also a finalist in the UCD VentureLaunch Accelerator Programme for startups. NovaUCD is the Centre for New Ventures and Entrepreneurs at UCD.
In an exclusive interview with Silicon Canals, Gleeson revealed, “I saw the launch and success of e-scooter start-ups on the west coast of America in 2018 and immediately knew it was something we needed in Ireland and the UK. The level of demand compared to that of bike-sharing was phenomenal.”
Zipp Mobilty’s Seed investment will targeting UK’s e-scooter market
Zipp Mobility secured €300,000 in seed investment in its latest funding round, which was led by a London-based VC and private angel investors. These fresh funds will be employed for scaling the company’s team, which currently consists of six people, and prepare for their launch in the Irish and UK market. Depending upon the number of licenses it procures, Zipp Mobility could increase its team size between 10 to 15.
Investment for Zipp Mobility comes after last month’s announcement by the UK government. The government announced plans to accelerate trials of rented e-scooter schemes to any region of the country that wants to introduce a scheme in partnership with scooter companies. While these trials were originally planned for June 2021 in four areas of the UK namely, Portsmouth and Southampton, the West of England Combined Authority, Derby and Nottingham, and the West Midlands.
Due to the COVID-19 crisis, all regions in the UK are now permitted to launch e-scooter sharing schemes. This is the UK government’s plans to explore less congested and greener methods of urban transport in response to the pandemic. Gleeson says Zipp Mobility expects to operate in more than four cities by the end of this year.
Competing with industry behemoths like Lime and Bird
Micro-mobility is an extremely competitive space in Europe currently dominated by established companies such as Lime and Bird. Any new entrant in the scene would require more than competitive pricing to onboard new users. Gleeson says identifying gaps in the competition’s offering and fulfilling it efficiently is crucial for success.
“We’ll be able to compete with our different selling points. Our centralised charging model creates full-time employment in the local area and avoids any ethical risks associated with the gig-economy,” says Gleeson. “We will deploy cargo e-bikes to swap battery packs on the scooters to keep the operation lean, and further reduce congestion and carbon emissions in the city. Maintaining lean business and increasing our gross margin will result in profitable operation in smaller markets over our competitors. Therefore, we see opportunities in markets where our competitors don’t.”
Zipp Mobility’s scooters are touted to feature superior technology, which is said to prevent poorly parked e-scooters and reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission.
Sustainable growth and regard for local authorities
Gleeson reveals that the company’s goal is to build long term relationships with its partners and offer undivided focus on the needs of local authorities. The company is also adopting a Centralised Charging and Redistribution Model, which invests in local charging infrastructure to provide local employment opportunities and high-quality service.
Gleeson says, “This differentiates Zipp from its competitors who, in some cases, have an unsustainable growth model due to high cash burn rate and expansion which happens too quickly. Our approach is also in contrast to other companies who place an excessive focus on expansion, leading to disregard for local authority’s rules and regulations. As for our Centralised Charging and Redistribution Model, many competitors use a Gig Economy Charging Model with zero investment in infrastructure and high staff turnover.”