At Via ID, we closely watch the micro-mobility market, globally. Micro-mobility operators benefit from 2 strong macro-trends: environmental awareness and micro-mobility boom. First half of 2021 was quite interesting, with micro-mobility operators going public (thus showing their financials) and several VC funding and hardware releases.
We deep dive into H1 2021 VC-backed micro-mobility operators funding, as an opportunity to find interesting insights about this exciting market. With Bird, Donkey Republic and Helbiz going public, it’s a tremendous opportunity to look very closely at their financials and strategies.
We hope you’ll find this note insightful!
- A total €783M raised (at today’s exchange rates)
- 16 VC-backed micro-mobility operators deals
- February was the most active with 7 deals
H1 2021 Micro-mobility Funding
Since January, €783M were invested in micro-mobility operators, with February and April being the most active with 6 deals each. Dott, with €70M raised in Series B, made the biggest round.
In the micro-mobility segment, Dott is quite unique, preferring opening new cities only through tenders, thus having moderate growth but more long-term business sustainability. The French-Dutch startup covers 20 European cities (Poland, France, England, Italy, Belgium, Spain, Germany and Belgium). The startup recently won London’s tender for micro-mobility operators, which is Dott’s preferred way to get into cities (winning one tender ensures long-term investment, other benefits include having a reduced number of operators, because of increased usage of vehicles). Henri Moissinac, Dott’s CEO, recently claimed that this “is not a game where you need to be everywhere. You need to do a few cities, and you need to be number one or two”, the startup raised around 3x less than its main competitors TIER and Voi. Dott’s model relies on fully integrated operations, without employing gig workers by employees instead (claiming its an advantage when dealing with city authorities).
On the other-side, Roll Technologies, a Canada-based micro-mobility startup providing shared e-bikes and e-scooters (launch planned in 2021) to cities and campuses, raised €100K in a Pre-Seed Round. The startup, founded in 2019, focuses on last-mile transportation and safety with the following strategies:
- “First-Timer Speed Limit”: if the user has no experience with scooters, the vehicle (developed internally) will lower its speed
- Free Helmet Program: Roll provides its users a free helmet
Micro-mobility Trends in European Cities
- Paris ranks 1st both for shared vehicles per city, Oslo is the leading city for shared vehicles per 10K inhabitants
- About shared bikes, Milan has the most free floating bikes per 10K inhabitants, Paris is the leading city for shared bikes in Europe, mostly with dock-based shared bikes
- For shared scooters, Berlin is the favorite playground for those vehicles
- Barcelona ranks 1st, Madrid 2nd for shared mopeds (both for shared moped per city and shared mopeds per 10K inhabitants)
- Focus on Paris: 86% of modal share is for bikes (with 18,5K dock-based bikes and 3,5K free floating bikes), while the average in other European cities for bikes is 51%. Velib recently reached an impressive 215K bike share trips milestone
Micro-mobility players are going public
Going public means showing-off its financials for private companies. However, as we’ve seen with the SPAC model, going public through a SPAC allows private companies to show (quite long-term) forecasted financial projections. I think what’s really interesting is the historical data. Bird and Helbiz are doing a SPAC, while Donkey Public listed on the Nasdaq First North through an IPO.
Bird published its investor deck, planning going public through a SPAC at an implied $2.3B valuation. The micro-mobility startup recently unveiled its new e-bike, while announcing opening its app to “local shared operators”. More importantly, the startup made a huge strategic pivot, moving from being a full-stack micro-mobility operator to a technology provider. In short, Bird provides resources to people willing to operate its fleets locally, on a revenue-sharing agreement. Here are the outcomes (% of revenue):
- 8% operating loss per vehicle (before vehicle depreciation) in Q4 2019 vs 41% operating profit per vehicle (a +97% increase in H2 2020 vs FY 2019)
- For every $10 earned (per vehicle), a $9.66 loss in Q4 2019 to a $1.43 profit in H2 2020
- 78% MoM retention for its fleet managers
- For every $10 earned (per vehicle, Q4 2019 vs H2 2020) : charging & repair costs down from $4.50 to 0.28$, other ride costs (service centers, field operations including labor, mobile data…) down from $6.33 to $1.27
This technology provider model relies on providing its fleet managers vehicles (Bird keeps the ownership), the company deals with local authorities to open new markets. Interestingly, Bird does not charge any fee if there are no rides (the revenue-sharing agreement applies on a per-ride basis).
Obviously, this “McDonald’s” model has great benefits on profitability and overall operational economics. It facilitates local entrepreneurs, in mid-sized towns, to operate their micro-mobility business. In France, the US micro-mobility startup entered Villemomble (29K inhabitants) and Vitrolles (34K inhabitants).
Last April, Donkey Republic announced its willing to get listed on the Nasdaq First North (Copenhagen). The Denmark-based company raised €15.19M in several rounds. Going public aims at raising the right amount of cash in order to develop its business. As of April 2021, the Danish startup operates in 60 cities in 14 countries in Europe (fleet is approx. 13K bikes and e-bikes). The bike-sharing company expect to reach profitability by 2024 thanks to:
- Increased SaaS revenue
- Increased MaaS B2B & B2G revenue
- Growing its fleet (up to 50K bikes and e-bikes)
Donkey Republic’s model currently relies on handling both software and hardware, but also on a partner network for its SaaS (tourist organizations, NGOs, local public transport companies…).
On May 18th 2021, on its IPO, Donkey Republic raised (approx.) €4.7M (at €2.18/share). Implied multiple used is 3.5X-4.2x EV/Sales (2020).
Helbiz, the NY-based micro-mobility operator, providing e-mopeds, e-scooters and e-bikes, is doing a SPAC IPO with GreenVision Corp. The startup has 2 main business lines: mobility (first-mile and last-mile solutions) and advertising. In 2020, Helbiz achieved +$4M in revenue (94% coming from mobility). Total customers reached the 2.5M milestone, with 12 licenses in the US and 17 in Italy.
Helbiz claims winning 60% of all 2020 Italian city tenders offered, and a 65% success rate in the US. Italy is a key market for Helbiz, ranking 1st as micro-mobility operator in terms of licenses. Part of the strategy includes parking: the company develops “smart parking spots”, that could be integrated into the ground, guiding users and providing cities the ability to monitor traffic.
On the operational-side, Helbiz has its “in-house drivers”, partnering with companies locally. However, the startup outsources hardware (Segway, OKAI).
Future strategies include expanding in the payments (fintech license in progress in Europe) & food industries. micro-mobility acts as a “gateway” for Helbiz, with the goal of building a kind of “ecosystem” and capturing more value (food, transit & payments).
Because it’s permitted by the SPAC model, Helbiz valuation is based on 2025 forecasted revenue.