We are in the midst of a major urban mobility revolution. Even though micro mobility startups have struggled with profitability issues, which were exacerbated by Covid-19, Mobility as a Service (MaaS) is rising, especially among European urban mobility startups.
Specifically, while the European electric scooter (e-scooter) market is just in its infancy, with most of them being 2 years old or less, it has been raking in cash from investors the past couple of years. According to a report by EU-Startups, industry insiders highlighted that e-scooter popularity and hype among investors are reminiscent of ride-hailing startups Uber, Lyft, Grab and Didi.
One of the players in the European scene is Sarajevo based beebee. This week, we caught up with their co-founder Dino Hajric to find out what it means to be the pioneer of e-scooters in the Southeast Europe (SEE) region. Enjoy!
The startup at a glance
Startup Name: beebee
Industry: Mobility as a Service
Date founded: 26 June 2020
Number of employees: 2
Vonage API used: Verify/SMS
In one sentence, what does a beebee do?
Beebee is the first and only ride sharing platform for electric scooters in SEE and an award winning company helping commuters easily move through the city.
What is the problem you are solving? Was this the initial problem or did you pivot?
The problems faced by all cities include high levels of carbon dioxide, disorganized public transport, lack of parking spaces and parking congestion alone, first and last mile issues, and what is important in a period of pandemic, health & safety issues. With the beebee platform and electric scooters, bikes and mopeds we provide an eco-friendly and fun way of commuting which leads to the shift-away from unnecessary car trips.
What differentiates beebee from your competitors? Is there a secret sauce?
No similar system exists in the SEE market. Our indirect competitors are public transport, e-bikes, taxi companies, as well as other ride sharing companies which still do not operate in this area. Our secret sauce is in providing high quality, user-friendly devices and technology, with a platform that is designed with safety and sustainability in mind.
VC, Angel, Bootstrap or Other?
It is all about co-founding, more precisely the shareholder capital of the founders, who financed the launch of the complete beebee concept from their own funds.
What’s the biggest challenge you faced and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge we faced is that beebee was founded and started operating last year in the midst of a pandemic, when many global companies were facing problems. However, with hard work, the beebee proved to be an excellent alternative means of transport during this period. What we are proud of is that we ended 2020 by operating positively, even though we were only available on the market for 4 months.
The biggest mistake beebee has made so far and what did you learn from it?
The biggest mistake is that we did not test things on real and realistic samples of people. We were guided by our assumptions and based on that we planned all activities. However, a year of business on the market has provided us with certain inputs and pointed out to us the omissions, but also the solutions for future improvements.
You can choose one to be on your board: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates. Who do you choose and why?
Carbon dioxide emissions levels have risen dramatically globally over the past hundred years, leading to global warming and climate change. All three are certainly working to develop new technologies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and share the belief that the technology will play a key role in reducing the impact of climate change. We would choose Elon Musk, who is engaged in the production of electric vehicles, which is strongly related to what beebee is also engaged in, and his expertise would be very useful for beebee. Also another reason we would choose Elon Mush is that he focused on funding carbon extraction technologies. One of the key goals of beebee is to reduce the high level of carbon dioxide.
How have you been using Vonage’s APIs?
We use it in the background for each user who registers, we do SMS verification of their phone number to know that it is really that user and that we are sure that they are driving his electric scooter.
What progress have you made since launching?
In just 12 months we had 27000 rides. We reduced 11 tons of CO2 emission with 43.000 km fewer car trips. 2000 active riders and 11000 verified users. We are profitable from the start. The EU micro-mobility market is expected to reach €100 billion by 2030. Expanding to SEE capital cities we can reach up to 9M customers. Our services are used in everyday life mainly by students, business people, tourists and delivery services. Our target group is generation Y and Z that will soon represent 60% of the total productive adult market. Revenue models have 4 streams. User rides, Advertisers, b2b plans and grants.
What’s next for beebee? Where do you want to be in 3 years?
We are going to expand to new markets (Zagreb, Belgrade and Skopje) and increase the number of scooters in our fleets.The plan is to enhance Customer care center as well and run app development and updates. In 3 years from now we will be recognised as a sharing platform in SEE smart cities.
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