Wind Mobility, a Berlin-based mobility startup that offers “dockless” e-scooter (and electric bicycle) rentals, has raised $22 million in seed funding, throwing its hat into the ring as European competitor to Bird and Lime.
It follows recent raises by Sweden’s VOI ($50 million Series A led by Balderton) and Germany’s Tier (€25 million Series A led by Northzone). All three companies are attempting to be pan-European from the get-go.
In other words, you wait all year for the “Bird or Lime of Europe” to appear and three contenders get funded at once. And that’s before we mention Taxify’s entrance into e-scooter rentals or Delivery Hero and Team Europe founder Lukasz Gadowski’s reported plans to enter the space, having picked up backing from the mobility arm of Target global.
Meanwhile, despite being U.S. companies, Bird and Lime have received substantial investment from three of Europe’s top venture capital firms. Index and Accel have backed Bird, and Atomico has backed Lime.
But I digress…
Investing in Wind Mobility’s rather large seed round is Chinese Source Code Capital, and Europe’s HV Holtzbrinck Ventures. The company says the investment will be used for global expansion and to further develop its e-scooter product. Wind currently operates its e-scooter rental service in various cities in Spain, France and the U.S., and its dockless bicycle rental service Byke in Germany.
Notably, Wind is currently developing its first proprietary model of electric scooters specifically designed for the sharing market, which co-founder and CEO Eric Wang tells me will become a significant differentiator going forward.
“Currently, almost all the scooters on the market are from Ninebot, which is designed for personal use rather than sharing,” he says. “Our own scooters are specifically designed for sharing: longer battery range, swappable battery, more capability to climb hills, sturdy and more fit for sharing. We can also tailor our scooters to the requirement of certain cities. This gives us an edge in continuing to adopt to customer needs and regulatory requirements.”
Alongside this, Wind Mobility has developed a proprietary “IoT technology and communication module” that it says gives it better location accuracy of its scooters. The system is also capable of delivering over-the-air updates to the Wind communication module to control certain functionality of its scooters remotely.
For example, it can tell a scooter light to flash via a tap on the Wind app so that users and operational personnel can spot the scooter more easily at night. “We can change the speed limit of the fleet in each city or certain scooters via our servers. We also limit the speed to zero via the communication module once a scooter is taken outside of the operating area,” adds Wang.
Like other European players in the space, Wind says it works in co-operation with local governments, with the goal of solving mobility problems and reducing congestion in urban areas.
“The scooter market in Europe is still relatively new,” says the Wind CEO. “The bigger competition is still to convert more users from using cars to using scooters along with public transportation. We are at the forefront of this transformation. We look forward to working with cities and authorities to serve this growing demand.”