The most successful micro-mobility companies worldwide - how did they do it?

Vehicle-sharing and micro-mobility soon became a trend had brought tremendous success to entrepreneurs that jumped into a crazy ride by establishing a company in this field. Bird reached a $1 billion valuation in seven months, thus becoming the fastest startup ever to reach unicorn status. Lime reached unicorn status in 18 months. This year Helbiz plans to become the first micro-mobility company listed on NASDAQ. Vehicle-sharing and micro-mobility are still on the rise and it is still possible to create a successful business.

According to McKinsey & Company's "Micromobility’s 15,000-mile check-up" report, market potential by the year 2030 is:

- $200 billion to $300 billion in the United States;

- $100 billion to $150 billion in Europe;

- $30 billion to $50 billion in China.

This equals about a quarter of McKinsey & Company's forecasted global shared autonomous-driving market potential of roughly $1,600 billion in 2030. So if you are considering starting your own business with sharing, this is the right time to do it. But let's look at how leaders are doing, the milestones of their business success, and the trends they are setting for the future in the sharing business.

The fastest double unicorn ever

The company Bird attained this status soon after it was founded in September 2017 by Travis VanderZanden. He was already familiar with the market as previously he had worked as an executive at Lyft and Uber. Bird got its first round of funding in February 2018 raising $15 million. Series B round followed in March for $100 million. And the funding round of $150 million in May granted the fastest ever unicorn status. In June 2018, Bird raised an additional $300 million, valuing the company at $2 billion. Prior to Bird, this valuation had never been reached so fast by any startup. Currently, its valuation is estimated at $2.3 billion. Bird has raised $765 million in total funding across five funding rounds. It plans to reach $308 million gross profit by 2023.

Bird is a last-mile electric scooter rental service. What is important here - the company has reached its success with just one vehicle type while others have been adding several types of vehicles to their portfolio. Bird operates in 200 cities globally. Overall more than 95 million rides have been made up to date.



Bird started its business by offering customers a Xiaomi M365 scooter. With the launch of the BirdOne model, the company stopped buying and distributing Segway models.

The price for the service is €1 or $1 (depending on the country) to unlock the scooter. A one-minute ride on the scooter costs €/$0.15. There is also a monthly fee available for renting a scooter - $25. However, prices may vary depending on the country, currency, and local laws.

At the beginning of this year, Bird introduced Global Ride Pass - new pricing plans designed to save money and accelerate the shift away from cars for short-distance trips. Currently, there are four new Global Ride Pass options available:

- Daily Unlimited Rides Pass
- Monthly Unlimited Rides Pass
- Monthly Unlimited Unlocks Pass
- 3-Month Unlimited Unlocks Pass

In the second half of 2020, the company launched Bird Pay that is piloted in two California hubs. This provides users with the opportunity to pay via the Bird app for the purchase in local shops, restaurants, or food trucks as they move around on the scooter.

This year Bird announced that the company is investing $150 million in Europe. The company said that funds will be used to open safe, sustainable micro-mobility programs in over 50 new European cities. The company is also planning to go public by merging with special purpose acquisition company Switchback II. However, it is not yet clear when this could happen.

Alex Wilhelm, a journalist at TechCrunch wrote in 2018 that Bird’s gross margin is 19 percent. He explored that revenues are split as follows - 47% charging, 14% repairs, 11% credit card processing, 5% regulatory costs, and 3% customer support and insurance.

Runner up for the unicorn status

Lime is the brand of the transportation company Neutron Holdings, Inc., previously known also as LimeBike. The company is based in San Francisco, USA. In comparison with Bird, Lime’s vehicle-sharing business takes different forms: electric scooters, electric bikes, regular pedal bikes, electric mopeds, and car-sharing systems in various cities around the world. Lime operates with dockless vehicles that users find and unlock via a mobile app. It finds the location of available vehicles via GPS.

Lime was founded in January 2017 by Brad Bao and Toby Sun - former executives of the venture capital firm Fosun International. Over a period of two months, the company raised US$12 million in venture funding led by Andreessen Horowitz. Lime's first location was the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and they launched with 125 bicycles. In October 2017 the company closed a Series B round. Afterward Lime announced that it was valued at $225 million. It became a unicorn in 2018 following a $335 million funding round and $1.1 billion valuations. To date, Lime has raised $935 million in total funding across five rounds.

Lime operated in more than 120 cities over 30 countries as of September 2019. It started 2020 with the announcement that it had added 11 locations to this list, including several US metropolitan areas such as Atlanta. In the first quarter of 2021 Lime announced that it has allocated $50 million to its bike-share operation, an investment that has been used to develop a new e-bike and will fund its expansion this year to another 25 cities in North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.

This announcement came a month after Lime announced plans to add electric mopeds to its micromobility platform. Lime is launching the effort by deploying 600 electric mopeds on its platform in Washington, D.C. The company is also working with officials to pilot the mopeds in Paris. Lime mopeds are manufactured by NIU, a Chinese company that also supplies mopeds to New York City-based mobility company Revel. NIU’s mopeds typically have a range of between 25–100 miles. Lime’s mopeds will be speed limited to 28 mph and can be controlled and monitored via wireless connectivity.

Lime uses many different manufacturers for the production of bikes and scooters. Other vehicles in Lime's fleet include:

- Lime-S electric scooters - four different models are currently in use: Lime-S Ninebot ES4, made by Segway with the extra battery attached on to the Main Pole, Lime-S Generation 1, Lime-S Generation 2, Lime-S Generation 3, Lime-S Generation 4.

- Lime-E electric-assist bikes.
- LimeBike - the classic dock-free bicycle.
- LimePod - colorfully branded Fiat 500s, a small, two-door model.

The fee to start any Lime ride is $1.00 and has to be paid no matter what. Afterwards, the user has to pay per minute to ride. Charges are rounded up to the nearest minute and rates and promotions. Users also pay $1 to unlock the car and an additional 40 cents per minute they drive.

In May 2021 Lime rolled out a new monthly subscription service for its electric scooters named Lime Prime. For $5.99 a month, users won't have to pay an initial fee. And in markets with no unlock fees, riders will receive 25 percent off the price of their ride. Subscribers will still pay the per-minute charge, but Lime says that someone who uses one of its scooters every day would save approximately $25 a month under the subscription plan.

Lime made its first quarterly profit in Q3 in 2019 according to Reuters. Wayne Ting, CEO of Lime said that the company generated positive free cash flow in the third quarter, having exited some markets where it was losing money, optimized the operation of its two-wheelers, and cut head office costs. “With these improvements, I believe we’re on track to be fully profitable in the full year 2021,” he told Reuters in an interview.

With micro-mobility to NASDAQ

The first company providing micro-mobility services and making up to NASDAQ seems to be Helbiz. It operates in North America and Europe. With more than 200 employees around the world, the company is the market leader in Italy and it operates e-scooters, e-bicycles and e-mopeds in over 20 cities around the world including Washington D.C., Alexandria, Arlington, Atlanta, Miami, Richmond, Milan and Rome. Helbiz was founded on 16 October 2015 by Italian serial entrepreneur, Salvatore Palella and was the first company to introduce the shared electric scooter model in Italy back in October 2018 through the legalization and regulation of the electric scooters in Italy.

Helbiz announced the intention to have a public offering on NASDAQ and on the Borsa Italiana AIM Italia exchange. In August 2019, the company announced it has completed the initial investment round for approximately $7.13 million. In October 2019, Forever Sharing, a China-based company producing electric smart mobility vehicles has acquired 5% of the Helbiz. This Chinese company invested 8 million dollars in Helbiz by valuing it at 160 million dollars. As a result, Forever Sharing agreed to supply Helbiz with 20,000 electric bicycles and e-scooters by the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020 to deploy globally. There was no IPO.

Helbiz has raised a total of $56.9M in funding over 10 rounds. The company’s revenues reached nearly $4 million in 2020 but it plans to have $449M revenue by 2025.



Helbiz offers three vehicle types - e-scooters, e-bikes, and e-mopeds. The company offers the same payment plan for their customers as its competitors - users pay $1 to unlock the vehicle and an additional 30 cents per minute. The exception is the e-moped that charges only 26 cents per minute. Also Helbiz has an unlimited program that costs 29.99 a month.

Helbiz is planning to move forward by using penetration and user base to launch new products - public transit integration & ticketing, HelbizKitchen food delivery, and Native Wallet & Payment System. The company is in the process of obtaining its fintech license in Europe.

To sum it all up:



There is a lot we can learn from the success of these big companies. However, they usually focus on big cities with huge populations, complicated infrastructure, and a big investment required to launch there. At the same time, all over the world small cities are seeking to improve their micro-mobility capabilities. And this is the opportunity. ATOM team will take care of the software - one of the most complicated parts of this business. As we have several years of experience in the vehicle sharing business, we would also be happy to help with any other questions you might have. It is possible to start quickly and launch a vehicle-sharing business in next to no time. Here is the link to our blog. You will find a lot of helpful information there.

P.S. Useful links:
Bird investor presentation: Click here
Helbiz investor presentation: Click here

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Everything you need to know about micromobility fleet insurance
Everything you need to know about micromobility fleet insurance

Discover why fleet insurance is important for shared micromobility operators. Learn how the right coverage provides peace of mind against unexpected challenges.

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For shared mobility operators, fleet insurance should be one of the top priorities. No matter the size or composition of your fleet, having the right insurance can offer peace of mind by protecting your business from unforeseen situations

However, the insurance question can sometimes seem daunting – especially if you're new to the industry. In this article, we will explore the key things you need to know about insuring your shared micromobility fleet.

Why you need insurance

Operating a shared mobility fleet isn’t always smooth sailing. Accidents can happen – whether it's a minor fender-bender or something more severe. Insurance serves as your safety net, offering financial coverage for repairs, replacements, and even potential legal obligations after an incident.

Here are the main reasons why insurance should be one of the top priorities for shared mobility fleet operators: 

Legal compliance: In many places, insurance for shared mobility fleets is a legal requirement. You probably want to comply with these regulations to avoid any potential fines, penalties – or even the suspension of your operations.

Financial security: Insurance also helps keep your business going financially, no matter what happens. Without insurance, accidents, vehicle damage, or theft can seriously impact your finances. Comprehensive insurance coverage can ensure that you're not left scrambling to cover any unexpected expenses.

Understanding shared micromobility insurance

When it comes to insuring micromobility fleets, part of the challenge stems from the fact that the market is relatively new. Some insurance underwriters avoid dealing directly with micromobility because it's seen as an unfamiliar market. 

This is where brokers like Cachet and others specializing in micromobility insurance come in. They partner with various insurance underwriters to provide coverage for operators in this field.

When it comes to shared micromobility, insurance coverage generally has a twofold role: safeguarding assets and handling third-party engagement in the event of accidents.

person riding bicycle during daytime

Liability coverage: Securing third-party public liability insurance for shared mobility fleets is not just a matter of choice – in some places, it's mandated by law. This insurance serves to protect pedestrians and riders in the unfortunate event of accidents, providing financial coverage for injuries and damages that may arise. In other words, it's a safety net that offers peace of mind to operators.

When it comes to mandatory third-party liability insurance, the negotiations with the insurance company usually begin by figuring out what the local authorities require to give them a permit. After that, the insurance policy is adjusted to meet the specific demands outlined by these authorities.

Physical damage coverage: This covers the repair or replacement costs of vehicles if they are damaged due to accidents, collisions, vandalism, or theft. Depending on the policy, physical damage coverage may also extend to equipment like GPS devices, charging stations, and other hardware.

What decides your insurance premium payments?

The amount you'll pay in premiums depends on various factors that are specific to your business This includes your fleet's makeup, where and how you operate, and the level of coverage you're aiming for.

Fleet usage: The more a shared micromobility fleet is used, the more chances there are for things to go wrong. When a fleet is in high demand and used often, there's a greater likelihood that something might happen that requires insurance coverage.

Rider behavior: Insurance companies also consider the fleet's ability to predict and manage undesirable rider behavior. Reckless riding, improper parking, or violating traffic rules can significantly increase the risk of accidents and incidents. Operators that have better measures in place to anticipate and mitigate such behaviors can demonstrate a lower risk profile to insurance providers.

black metal train rail during daytime

Value of the fleet: How much your vehicles are worth individually and as a fleet will affect how much you pay for insurance. If your vehicles are expensive, your insurance premiums will be higher because it would cost more to replace them if they get damaged or lost.

Size of the fleet: Operators can often negotiate more favorable insurance rates for proportionally larger fleets. As the number of vehicles increases, the overall expected risk is distributed and “diluted” as a result – which translates to lower premiums per vehicle. 

However, some brokers like Cachet have embraced a broader approach, ensuring that smaller and medium-sized fleets can also benefit from insurance coverage.

Technology implementation: Shared mobility services that employ technologies like GPS tracking, telematics, and IoT devices can provide insurers with valuable data. This data can then help assess driver behavior and usage patterns, enabling insurers to offer more accurate and tailored premium rates. This also takes into account how simple it is for scooters to be stolen and how well the recovery processes function – which can also play a role in insurance expenses.

Where you operate: The location in which your fleet operates is another important factor. From the insurer’s perspective, different areas pose varied levels of risk. For example, urban mobility – which is associated with a higher risk of accidents – may incur higher premiums compared to vehicles used in rural areas.

Level of coverage: The level of coverage you choose directly affects how much you pay in premiums. Opting for higher coverage limits means you get more comprehensive protection, but obviously, it also means your insurance costs go up.

a scooter parked on the side of a bridge

Choosing the ideal insurance for your fleet

Every shared mobility fleet and business is different, so your insurance needs will depend on things like the type and size of your fleet, where you operate, how much risk you're comfortable with, and of course – how much you are willing to pay. 

For example, do you require coverage for specific risks, like vandalism, or perhaps your fleet is composed of premium vehicles that are more expensive? To make it more relatable, let's dive into a practical case of a shared micromobility operator's experience with insurance.

How Hoog found the right insurance with Cachet

The concept behind Hoog Mobility is to revolutionize transportation in smaller Estonian towns. They recognized the need for efficient and eco-friendly local travel and brought a shared mobility solution often seen in big cities but missing in smaller communities: electric scooters.

Cash-strapped mobility startups often worry about potential damage or vandalism happening to their shared vehicles. This concern is shared by traditional insurance companies too. As a result, these insurers might hesitate to provide coverage for shared scooters, and if they do – it's usually at a higher cost.

Faced with this challenge, Hoog initially operated without insurance due to the steep expenses. But that changed when Cachet provided them with a customized insurance solution that perfectly suited the company's needs. Hoog also realized that the initial worry about vandalism wasn't as much of an issue as they thought. But still – having insurance for their fleet turned out to be a sound financial decision that gave them peace of mind.

Concluding remarks

Don't underestimate insurance – it's just as crucial as having a top-notch fleet and solid software. Insurance is best approached proactively – discovering you've cut corners after an unforeseen event will cost you significantly more.

Getting insurance for shared micromobility might be a bit trickier since it's still a new concept, but we've seen that even smaller fleets can make it work – it's just a matter of finding a suitable partner who understands your needs.

At the end of the day, insurance isn't merely about meeting legal requirements – it showcases your dedication to safety, responsible operations, and the well-being of everyone involved in your mobility business.

Why and how should authorities promote shared mobility
Why and how should authorities promote shared mobility

Unlocking the power of shared mobility – how authorities can drive change and improve transportation.

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Shared mobility is gaining momentum – offering prospects for reducing traffic, cleaning up city air, and providing users with more flexible transportation options. However, despite its potential, shared mobility often seems to take a backseat to traditional public transportation and private vehicles in the eyes of local authorities and infrastructure planners.

Experts see shared mobility as a game-changing revolution in transportation. It surpasses the earlier revolution of the 20th century when personal cars became widely affordable and accessible. Now, with the rise of shared mobility and environmental concerns, the old notion of "one car per person" is becoming outdated.

In light of this, authorities worldwide should proactively prepare for a future where shared mobility plays an increasingly significant role. In this blog post, we'll explore different ways authorities and legislators can encourage shared mobility – and why it's totally worth it.

The positive impact of shared mobility

Shared mobility has the potential to fix some of the problems we face with transportation today, benefiting users, cities, and the environment. Here are the key benefits of shared mobility:

  • Reduced congestion: Shared mobility can alleviate traffic congestion, leading to smoother traffic flow and shorter commute times.
  • Environmental sustainability: Shared mobility can reduce the number of vehicles on the road, resulting in lower greenhouse gas emissions and a smaller carbon footprint. This helps combat air pollution and mitigate the environmental impact of transportation.
  • Improved transport accessibility and flexibility: Shared mobility services make transportation more accessible, especially for those without private vehicles or limited mobility options. They also offer convenient alternatives to traditional transportation methods.

Considering the urgent need to combat climate change, shared mobility holds a significant promise as a greener transportation option. The European Union's Green Deal aims to achieve a 90% reduction in transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Shared mobility – coupled with increased adoption of electric vehicles and a broader shift in transportation behaviors – will likely play an important role in achieving this goal.

However, for shared mobility to truly flourish and revolutionize transportation, it needs a supportive environment backed by legislative frameworks and infrastructure planning. So, let's take a closer look at how authorities can foster wider adoption of shared mobility.

1. Favorable regulations with an eye on the future

In the past, shared mobility solutions and business models have faced challenges in gaining acceptance from regulators. A prime example is the initial response of local authorities to Uber’s novel services at the time – ordering them to cease their operations immediately.

Shared mobility services can disrupt traditional transportation models – which may not be welcomed by everyone. However, the undeniable popularity of these services, exemplified by the rapid success of Uber, demonstrates the high customer demand.

Instead of battling against it, authorities might want to shift their focus to creating a supportive legislative framework, recognizing the significant benefits shared mobility can bring. It means regulations that prioritize safety, fair competition, consumer protection, and quality standards – creating an environment where shared mobility can thrive and provide reliable services to customers.

Shared mobility is constantly evolving, which means that regulations need to be flexible and adaptable to keep up with emerging technologies and new challenges. For example, as autonomous vehicles become a possibility, authorities will need to establish guidelines for their safe integration into existing transportation networks.

2. A collaborative approach

Collaboration between local authorities and businesses can be a decisive factor in creating a favorable environment for shared mobility. By working together, they can tackle common challenges, share data, and develop integrated transportation solutions.

Public-private partnerships can also involve incentives like tax breaks or subsidies to encourage the adoption of shared mobility. For example, offering tax breaks to companies that implement ride-sharing programs for their employees can encourage the use of shared transportation options instead of individual cars. Similarly, providing subsidies for shared mobility providers can help offset the initial costs of implementing and expanding their services.

Sharing data between shared mobility platforms and transport authorities is another way to benefit from this cooperation. The platforms have valuable information on accidents, trip patterns, and driver availability. Sharing this data with local authorities can help improve the transportation network, enhance travel apps, and identify underserved areas.

3. Building infrastructure to support the future of transportation

To meet evolving transportation needs, authorities should invest in infrastructure that supports innovative modes of transportation like electric vehicles and shared mobility services. By considering the needs of shared mobility users, infrastructure planners can make it a much more attractive transportation option.

Here are the key infrastructure needs for shared mobility:

Integration with existing infrastructure: To offer users smooth and effective transportation choices, shared mobility must seamlessly integrate with current transport systems like public transit. It should enable users to plan multi-modal journeys and switch between different modes of transport without hassle. For example, users should be able to seamlessly transition from a shared bike or scooter to a bus or train.

Charging stations: Keeping shared electric vehicles performing at their best relies on maintaining their charge. This requires establishing a network of strategically positioned charging stations throughout urban areas. If we're aiming for more people to use electric vehicles, we need to make charging them easy and accessible.

Dedicated parking: Shared mobility services need designated parking areas for their vehicles, such as bike racks and car-sharing parking spots. Well-organized parking infrastructure can reduce street clutter and make it easier for others to grab a shared mobility vehicle.

Information infrastructure support: Running shared mobility services smoothly, including handling bookings, payments, and logistics, depends greatly on a reliable information infrastructure foundation. With the advent of advanced networks like 6G, users will increasingly rely on this infrastructure to stay connected and make the most of these services.

The shared mobility landscape in France

Paris's recent ban on free-floating e-scooters has put France in the spotlight. To take a closer look at the shared mobility environment in France, we turned to Manon Lavergne, CEO of Viluso, a shared micromobility operator. We asked for her insights on the state of micromobility in the country.

Since the Mobility Orientation Law in 2019, the French government has been working to make shared transport easier to access everywhere. At COP 26 in 2021, France undertook to cut its CO2 emissions by 55%.

According to Manon, personal vehicle ownership in urban settings is losing favor among many French citizens, and Paris stands out as a shared micromobility epicenter. The city pioneered self-service shared mobility networks like Vélib' (2007), Autolib' (2011), and Cityscoot's shared electric scooters (2016).

However, in April 2023, Paris residents voted to ban free-floating e-scooters in the city. The reasons behind this decision included riders competing for space with pedestrians on sidewalks and complaints about e-scooters cluttering the pavements when parked. 

Captur's case study on e-scooter parking habits in Paris revealed that the majority of users encountered no problems when parking scooters in designated bays. However, outside of the designated areas, users had to compete with other vehicles, resulting in poorer parking choices.

This example again emphasizes the need for proper infrastructure to support shared mobility. Lots of cities around the world were mainly designed with private cars in mind – which can create challenges for accommodating shared mobility solutions.

Anne Hidalgo, Paris' Mayor, campaigned with a strong green agenda and has introduced various changes to tackle pollution and traffic jams. Her vision includes a "15-minute city" where people can access work, shopping, healthcare, education, and leisure within a 15-minute walk or bike ride from their homes.

Yet, the chaotic state of free-floating e-scooters in Paris resulted in their ban. This scenario raises a question for other global cities: How can shared mobility be encouraged without disrupting other transportation choices and pedestrian movement?

According to Manon, the upcoming 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, which will draw many visitors, will provide valuable insight into the city's transportation system – including the viability of shared mobility.

Shared mobility is here to stay – so start planning today

By adopting a supportive approach, authorities worldwide can play a crucial role in enabling the full potential of shared mobility. While it may require a shift in mindset, the potential gains of reduced congestion, environmental sustainability, and improved transportation options make it a worthwhile consideration. 

We know that shared mobility is here to stay and will only expand in the coming years. By taking a more proactive stance, authorities will be in a better position to integrate and maximize the full benefits of shared mobility.

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