More than 100 projects launched
Entrepreneurs in more than 140 cities operate their companies on ATOM Mobility platform
This summer, people in Riga could enjoy the city with RIDE – electric bikes that looked like real e-mopeds. The team launched the service right after the Covid-19 restrictions were eased with a cool launch event and the title of the most downloaded app on the App Store in the country.
Launch date: Summer 2020
Fleet: Xiaomi HIMO T1
Web page: https://ridemobility.eu
App Store: https://apps.apple.com/lt/app/id1522014903
Founder and the CEO of the RIDE Edgars Jakobsons first considered launching a ride-sharing business in his hometown Riga after visiting Singapore in 2019. “This was the first time I tried e-scooters myself. It was a fun experience and I thought that people elsewhere might also like it. When I came back to Riga, the first e-scooter sharing service had already started to operate here. We followed soon after in collaboration with Bolt,” Edgars remembers. A year later, he decided to create his own independent company that would offer a new means of transportation – electric bikes.
RIDE launch event (Summer 2020)
The future is in electricity
RIDE is the daughter company of TrafoNet – an organization that provides its customers with industrial electrical equipment. TrafoNet has been previously involved in the development of the infrastructure for electric vehicles – for just over two years now, the company has set up electric vehicle charging stations. “I think that electrical transportation is our inescapable future. When we started to set up stations, we didn’t know when there was going to be a demand for them. Now all the biggest car manufacturers have an electrical car to offer. And people are ready to pay for them.” Edgars believes in the future of electricity. That’s where the choice of electric bikes comes from. And, of course, there are no similar vehicles in the ride- sharing market in Riga. That was the second stimulus.
The season started later than expected due to Covid-19 pandemics – electric bikes appeared on streets on July 15. However, the launch event attracted huge attention – RIDE bikes were offered to ride for free for the first day. It is possible to drive approximately 45 kilometres with one full charge so this was enough to even get to one of Latvia’s summer capitals – Jurmala – and enjoy nice weather by the sea.
Respectively app downloads exceeded the company’s expectations. “Half the people who downloaded the app have tried our service at least once. Yes, we can say that we are lucky, but there is an enormous amount of work behind luck. Moreover, you should always enter the market actively and aggressively. That’s what we did! Competitive advantage should be easily understood and perceived by the client. And the devil is always in the details,” says Edgars, sharing his experience.
RIDE app quickly became one of the most popular apps in the country.
Weather conditions and vandalism – the two main challenges
Latvia is not the best place on Earth to start am electric bike ride-sharing business, because everything depends on weather conditions. Theoretically, it is possible to ride a bike all year long but there would be a small number of people interested in that. If temperatures are low during the coldest months of the year, the ride won’t be enjoyable. However, RIDE is ready to provide its services for as long as there is a demand for them.
The second biggest challenge for the business is people’s attitude. “We want to live in Europe, but sometimes I have a feeling that we are still in the Soviet Union. Plastic as well as mechanical components are broken. Screens have been smashed. These components need to be ordered constantly which creates remarkable costs. It’s a pity that there are so many people who don’t value the work of others,” says Edgars.
Not an easy business
Since the ride-sharing business has become popular, Edgars expects new players to enter the market any time now: “I just wanted to say that it is not an easy business. It is tough and more like a hobby to me. If you think that there’s a huge profit margin here, you’re wrong. When we served a Bolt fleet last year, there were 25 people on the team! You have to pay proper salaries, because the job is not easy and often people have to work at night or during early morning hours. In addition, we pay all our taxes. You really have to like this business a lot to invest your time and money in it.”
One thing Edgars is sure about is that this won’t be RIDE’S last season. The company has plans to expand in the Baltic region, as well as in countries all around the Baltic Sea. RIDE will work to establish its spots locally that will support the ride-sharing business in different cities. However, Edgars stresses that the company has gained experience and technical competences that are easier to replicate then to gather for the first time.
RIDE has chosen the Atom Mobility software that is used in their apps and dashboard. “Three factors are important for us as a partner – costs and costs of developing new features, the availability of different solutions as well as the quality of communication. Unless all these aspects also have value for our partner, we won’t be interested in changing it or creating our solution,” says Edgars.
“Upon our initial interaction with ATOM Mobility, we were immediately drawn to their interface and impressed by the quality of their customer service. Throughout the process, they exhibited great flexibility in their approach and were able to assist us with any difficulties we encountered.”
– Deroy De Bordes, founder of Wheelz
Launch date: October 2021
Web page: https://wheelzgh.com
App Store: https://apps.apple.com/lt/app/id1590136064
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=wheelzgh.app
Wheelz was founded by Deroy De Bordes – an entrepreneur with a diverse background in business, including experience in HR and property development. Originally from Ghana, West Africa, he realized the potential of expanding into emerging markets while residing in the UK. During a trip back to Ghana, he recognized a potential market opportunity for a car-sharing service company.
During that time, traditional taxi services and a laborious car rental process that required your physical presence were the main options for customers in the country. The founder saw the opportunity to fulfill an unmet demand through the creation of a car-sharing service – which led to the launch of Wheelz.
In preparation for the launch, they evaluated multiple software providers and eventually went with ATOM Mobility. According to Deroy, they chose ATOM Mobility because of its superior customer service and user-friendly interface. Its integration with Geotab's fleet management platform was also a significant factor.
In the process of starting their business, Wheelz faced numerous challenges that required careful consideration and planning.
The company's journey began in the early 2020s when they traveled to Ghana to investigate the local market, identify any potential risks, and gain a thorough understanding of the relevant local laws and regulations.
As a company that heavily relies on connectivity, Wheelz had to address the associated risks of providing convenient and accessible services to its customers.
One significant challenge Wheelz faced was the unique characteristics of road infrastructure in Ghana compared to Europe. This situation necessitated the establishment of safe roadside parking zones, especially as many houses in the target market have gated compounds. To prevent any potential disagreements with other customers and ensure safety, Wheelz had to remind people not to park within these compounds.
Additionally, people may park on backstreets or narrow roads, potentially causing damage or injury to the vehicle. Therefore, Wheelz took extra caution in selecting parking zones and worked closely with their team to identify suitable locations within 10 to 15 minutes of each other. This effort aimed to ensure customers' easy access to their services.
Introducing a new product to the market posed a significant challenge for Wheelz, as it was unlike the traditional car hire services that customers were accustomed to.
“Our concept was new in a way that it depended solely on smartphones as the main way of accessing our service. The first thing we had to do was test the technology thoroughly to ensure its stability and security before it could be deployed in the field. Then, we needed to familiarize potential customers with the app's functionality.” – Deroy De Bordes
For marketing purposes, the company used a multi-phase approach. The first phase focused on creating brand awareness through billboards, radio, and television ads. The second phase involved marketing campaigns on various platforms, including YouTube, Google, Instagram, Facebook, and banner ads. This generated a significant amount of interest in the product.
Wheelz's pricing strategy was significantly more competitive than traditional taxi services. For instance, a one-hour journey in their most affordable vehicle costs 60 Ghanaian cedi, while a half-hour ride in a traditional taxi would cost around 50 to 60 Ghanaian cedi. This pricing strategy proved to be an attractive offer, as customers sought value for their money.
"Essentially, customers who choose Wheelz can get twice the travel time for their money," Deroy explains.
By introducing this new product and pricing strategy, Wheelz established itself as a disruptor in the market. Now, as the company continues to grow and expand its services, they remain committed to providing excellent customer service and safe, reliable transportation to its clients.
“Though we faced early obstacles, we persevered. Today, our innovative approach to car hire services has earned us a favorable standing in the market.” – Deroy De Bordes
The success of Wheelz thus far has not led to complacency, and the company has no intention of resting on its laurels. In May 2023, they have plans to participate in a trade show in Ghana – this will allow the company to promote its brand and explore the possibility of expanding into new markets across Africa. They are also considering a franchise model to facilitate their expansion efforts.
Wheelz also plans to expand to other cities in Ghana, including Kumasi, Tamale, Takoradi, and Cape Coast. Each of these cities will have a minimum of 10 cars assigned to them. But in the nearest future, the plan is to explore opportunities to increase the number of parking zones across the capital city, Accra.
Nowadays it is possible to run several businesses and one of them can be a vehicle sharing service. Amir Timo Marouf (in the picture on the left) is living proof of this. He is a dentist and runs the mobility company tretty in Münster, Germany.
Launch date: Spring of 2020
Country: Germany, Münster
Fleet: muscle-powered kick-scooters and bikes
Web page: https://www.tretty.de
App Store: https://apps.apple.com/de/app/tretty/id1509734922
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=de.tretty.app
Amir Timo Marouf founded the mobility company tretty together with Max Weldert. “It all started in school when we knew that one day we would do something together. What exactly was not yet clear back then,” Amir tells the story of how the company started. He says that he always had a passion for sharing, so he considered starting something around it. Max always has been and still is into mobility with the focus on muscle-powered vehicles. “So directly after my exam in dentistry, we took a trip with two lying bikes from Münster to Lisbon. We covered a distance of 2600 kilometers. During this time we more or less developed the whole idea around tretty, because we had a lot of time to think,” Amir remembers.
Motivation and passion
After getting back, Amir and Max set up a team. They found an accountant who took care of all the finances and an engineer. “When our engineer heard of the idea, he was fascinated. And we decided that in the beginning, we won't work for money. It was only motivation and passion that drove us further,” says Amir.
However, it was still not clear what vehicle should be used and whether people living in Münster want to have this service at all... “So we just started a crowdfunding campaign and set a very high target of EUR 50 000. This would be enough to buy 100 scooters. And we succeeded! And we even got 20% more financing,” Amir recalls.
In the crowdfunding announcement, the founders wrote that they will develop their own scooters. As they now had the money, there was pressure on them to do it. And it was only then that Max and Amir realized how big the project would actually be... But they did it!
Struggle with IT
The tretty engineer made a drawing on the basis of which the scooter is built from the scratch by tretty. The team found a manufacturer in the Czech Republic and did a lot just by doing. “In the beginning, I built a website using WordPress. You can learn everything nowadays from videos on the internet if you're motivated. Afterwards, we were very lucky to have two students on the team. They were both at university doing their Master's and they had both experiences in IT. They managed to build a website for the maintenance team,” says Amir.
Next step – the tretty team started to develop its own app. “We realized the importance of the time and also the fact that our business is not building IT solutions. We started to compare existing app developers, who offer white-label solutions. We compared all the big ones. But as we wanted to keep everything local, we hired a company that is focusing on car sharing without any experience in free- floating. It took a long time to register in the app and type in all the information required…” recalls Amir.
So at some point, tretty team decided to change the software provided and chose ATOM. Now with a new app, they are getting a significant amount of new users as the registration is a lot faster. That was one of the main reasons why they switched initially. “I'm also happy that ATOM is always open to optimizations and is ready to talk about alternatives,” says Amir.
Private and business clients, locals, and tourists
Users of the service are people living in Münster and around, including tourists. There are a lot of students in the city - around 60 000 of all the 314 000 people living there. And students are among the most active scooter users. The weather has a big impact - if it is appropriate for riding, the number of daily users increases.
tretty also has one private fleet in Münster, which is owned by a big insurance company. Right now, tretty is also currently discussing possible collaborations with other B2B partners. “There are two options available. We can set up the software for the partner and provide it with vehicles. Then they could use tretty brand and have a franchise. Or they can create their own brand,” explains Amir.
The team of tretty is considering different scenarios for expansion. However, Amir says that they still have some homework to do: “The focus is currently on Münster. As soon as we have validated we will consider expansion.”
And what is the plan for Amir? Let's not forget that he is also working as a dentist. “I think one of the main reasons why you can do more than one thing is the enormous speed of digitalization of everything. With a smartphone, you can answer emails from everywhere and even design things and build websites. I think this would not have been possible 10 years ago. It is, of course, tough to multi-task. Mondays are my tretty days. Before and after work as well as at weekends I do tretty. Then I try to schedule my time for my girlfriend and for myself. I'd say that a month or two ago it was really tough but now it’s starting to get better. I think the main reason why it works is that it comes from passion and not from pressure.”
Is ATOM Mobility platform suitable for hotels and guest houses that wants to operate a small fleet of scooter or bikes as an additional service for guests? - Yes, sure.
It is even possible to get 20% of the total population in a small town to become users of the e-scooter sharing platform. That’s what the story of the GOON is about. The company operates in the small town of Zarasai, Lithuania with a population around 8 000 people and reached almost 2 000 users in the first few months.
Launch date: Spring 2020
Fleet: Segway MAX
Web page: https://www.facebook.com/GOONZarasuose
“We got the idea for this business from the example of big cities where big companies like BOLT, CityBee, and others operate. We also took into account the lack of entertainment for the guests and residents of the small resort city of Zarasai,” says GOON’s founder Darius Kilbauskas, sharing the story of starting his own business.
Drew on Support for Startups to Begin
GOON started at the moment when its founders decided to use support from the Zarasai Startup training programme for young entrepreneurs. It is a project funded by the European Social Fund Agency and initiated by the National Institute for Social Integration. The GOON team was selected to participate in the programme in April 2019. Within a couple of months, they were joined by business consultant Ugnius Savickas, who diligently traveled to regular meetings with the project participants. This is how the business idea succeeded.
GOON scooters near the lake
The Existing Platform is Affordable
Just to give you an idea of how small the town is - only 8,000 people live there. GOON started to offer its services at the beginning of the 2020 season and had 1,700 users which amounts to 20% of the total population!
“Our scooter sharing fleet has only nine scooters, so the number of users is really impressive. In addition, this year was different - many chose to stay in Zarasai for the whole summer due to the pandemic or visited a neighbouring country - Latvia. And the biggest number of tourists also came from Latvia and one of its largest cities – Daugavpils which is only 25 km away. Zarasai has beautiful nature, lakes, and excellent infrastructure to offer tourists,” says Darius. In addition, he mentions that original and attention-grabbing e-scooter design, advertising, and ATOM Mobility’s modern rental platform played a significant role in creating a success story. “The app by ATOM has never let us down and has met all our expectations. We are grateful to those professionals for their quality work,” says Darius, thanking his partners.
The collaboration with ATOM Mobility started unexpectedly. Initially, the team was looking for a GPS device for IoT scooters. “We were interested in how much it would cost to build our own platform. Then we realized that this amount would be far too high for our small business. I found a Lithuanian company TELTONIKA that produces devices we were interested in. And then a representative of this company hooked us up with ATOM. This saved us a lot of money and time. ATOM helped us to launch the app in 20 days!” says Darius.
“This is proof for us that even with the super small fleet, it is possible to run successful operations. And the ATOM Mobility platform is also an affordable solution on such a small scale. It helps small businesses such as guest houses and hotels to offer e-scooters or bikes as an additional entertainment option,” comments ATOM Mobility CEO Arturs Burnins.
Aim to Entertain and Surprise
Currently, there are two people involved in the team of GOON. Darius is the supervisor of the e-scooter park and is responsible for administrative work. While his colleague Augustė is responsible for increasing the customer base and overseeing advertising and design. “We do everything ourselves,” says Darius proudly.
This is just the beginning of GOON. The company is considering expansion and not only in terms of buying additional vehicles and also working in other neighbouring cities but also in increasing diversity and choice so that it is possible to attract and surprise both tourists and locals.
If you ever visit Zarasai, don’t forget to take an e-scooter and enjoy the most beautiful route around Lake Zarasas, an 11 km circle. Darius also recommends visiting the watermill along the route in Šlininkai and enjoying a great meal there.