Having a great business idea is rarely enough – you also need money to get the ball rolling. But what if you don't have tens of thousands just laying around to bootstrap your business? Or don't want to go the traditional way and attract VC funding in exchange for a large number of company shares?
This is where many founders choose to crowdfund.
Crowdfunding is a way of raising money for your business from a large number of people through online platforms. In 2000, ArtistShare became the first dedicated crowdfunding platform, and since then, crowdfunding has become one of the top funding sources for businesses, with the global market estimated to reach $300 billion by 2030.
If you're looking to fund your vehicle-sharing business, crowdfunding might be one of the options. It can not only help you attract money but also test your business idea in the first place. After all, if enough people are ready to back your idea, it's a clear sign it has a place in the market.
Screenshot from www.funderbeam.com crowdfunding platform.
Types of crowdfunding platforms & their investors
For your vehicle-sharing business, there are three main types of crowdfunding to consider – rewards, debt, and equity. Let's take a closer look at each of them!
This is considered the “traditional” type of crowdfunding and is currently the most popular. The idea is simple – people contribute to a business idea, expecting to receive a reward, such as products or services, at a later stage.
Platforms for rewards-based crowdfunding (few examples):
Who are the backers?
Regular people with little or no experience in investing; early adopters – people who embrace new things before most other people do. Generally, these people invest because they truly believe in the idea and want to help it come to life, as well as because they just want to be the first in the world to receive the product.
Businesses at early stages – idea or early development. Rewards crowdfunding is also for established businesses looking to launch a new product or expand to new markets.
Debt-based crowdfunding – also known as peer-to-peer (P2P) lending – means that the crowd lends money to a company, which it needs to repay with interest by a certain deadline. The idea is similar to borrowing a loan from a bank, except that in this case, there are many lenders instead of one.
Platforms for debt-based crowdfunding (few examples):
- Honeycomb Credit
Who are the lenders?
Lenders that support companies via debt-based crowdfunding are individual investors looking to earn a higher profit on their cash savings and/or diversify their portfolio. These investors care about two things – whether the company will be able to repay the loan and how much they'll earn in interest payments. Everything else is secondary.
Companies with a stable revenue that can more or less accurately predict their cash flow to repay their lenders. Generally, this is for companies at different stages when they've started to make a profit.
Equity-based crowdfunding allows businesses to give away a portion of their company to a number of investors in exchange for investment. Investors receive shares in the company based on how much money they've contributed.
Typically, equity-based crowdfunding is done in a way that first, the crowdfunding platform takes the company's equity, then sells the shares on their platform.
Platforms for equity-based crowdfunding (few examples):
Who are the investors?
Typically, these are quite seasoned investors with experience in stock and/or startup investments who are now looking for higher-risk, higher-yield investments. These people might be less interested in the idea or cause behind the business and more in its potential future growth and profits.
Businesses at all growth stages, except for the exit/acquisitions stage.
How much can you expect to raise with crowdfunding?
How much a successful crowdfunding campaign raises can differ greatly depending on the stage of your business and the type of crowdfunding you've chosen.
For example, according to the equity-based crowdfunding platform Seedrs, businesses with MVPs usually raise between €30k and €50k, whereas early-stage businesses – between €50k and €250k.
In the meantime, on Kickstarter, the rewards-based crowdfunding platform, the majority of successfully funded projects raise less than $10k. Tech products typically raise between €20k and €100k.
How about vehicle-sharing businesses? Here are two successful examples:
- Electric bike-sharing company Mobi raised €794,891 on Spark Crowdfunding.
- Scooter-sharing startup tretty raised €62,635 from 170 backers with their rewards-based crowdfunding campaign via StartNext.
- Bike and scooter sharing company Frog Mobility raised €138,814 – 40% of their set funding goal – via equity crowdfunding platform Spark Crowdfunding.
- Mount, a PaaS for Airbnb hosts to offer shared vehicles to their guests, raised $133,460 via WeFunder.
To start a bike-sharing or scooter-charing business with 40 vehicles, you should aim for at least €40k. This is doable with all types of crowdfunding models if done right.
Now, let's see what “right” means and how to make your crowdfunding campaign a success.
How to succeed with your crowdfunding campaign
A successful crowdfunding campaign can help you get your business off the ground and raise even more funds than you had expected. The harsh reality, however, is this: as many as 85% of crowdfunding campaigns fail and never reach their set goal.
To increase your chances of a successful crowdfunding campaign here's your basic to-do list:
- Choose the right platform
This depends on your funding goal, the stage of your business, the type of your product, and even your target market. For example, AppBackr is an app-specific crowdfunding platform, StartNext is for products for the German market, while Kickstarter is only available to creators in 25 countries.
- Understand your investors
People backing projects on Kickstarter vs Funderbeam can differ greatly. For example, on Kickstarter, people are more interested in the “coolness” of the product, whereas investors funding companies via debt-based or equity-based crowdfunding platforms care more about the company's projected growth and cash flow, and the money this investment is going to make them. Keep this in mind when crafting your pitch!
- Start preparing early
One of the key secrets to launching a successful crowdfunding campaign is investing heavily in pre-campaign lead generation. Start building a community and an email list of supporters as early as you can – these people will give your campaign the necessary first push to succeed. You should aim to collect 30% of your funding goal within the first week – then, the campaign is likely to reach the goal.
- Craft a compelling pitch
Good storytelling is the key to your campaign's success, no matter who your investors are. That said, the stories they want to hear differ. For a reward-based campaign, craft a story around your product that evokes emotions – make people laugh, help them imagine themselves with your product, or be angry about the issue it's going to solve. For an equity-based campaign, you should focus more on highlighting your team's strengths, market knowledge, and long-term vision.
- A range of rewards
Apart from an option to buy your product, it's recommended to include some lower-priced options for people who just want to support you. For example:
- Weekly or monthly subscriptions to your service
- Free credits to use your service
- Ad space on your product
- Partnership packages
- Priority delivery of the product or access to the service
- Product accessories
- Guided city tours
Other things that can help you launch a successful crowdfunding campaign include:
- Professional visuals – this is essential for making a good first impression
- Videos – they help issuers earn 105% more
- Posting regular updates – those boost your chances of raising 126% more
- Data and stats that make you look reliable – previous successful projects, business traction, existing customer reviews, and testimonials
- Social media presence – when you share your project on social media platforms, your probability of success increases. For example, if you share to 100 or 1,000 followers, the probability of success increases by 20% and 40%, respectively.
One of the biggest mistakes founders make is assuming that it's enough to have their campaign launched on the chosen crowdfunding platform, and people will come and invest in it.
The reality, however, is this:
A successful campaign requires a lot of work outside the crowdfunding platform – you need to proactively and systematically look for supporters and persuade them to invest. So, to improve your chances of succeeding, start preparing months before the launch of the campaign.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.