Question 1: Tell us something about your entrepreneurial journey and the inspiration behind the birth of Mobility Science Inc.?
It all started in 2013 when I co- founded Jaano, the world’s first free floating scooter sharer (wow Saas company). While operating Jaano, we constantly were searching for a solution to optimize our fleet and make it more reliable for our users. We discovered that mobility user regardless of the vehicle form (scooter, moped, car, etc.), were longing for accessibility by. Too long waits or walks to the next available vehicle made customers less likely to complete a booking and use the service as intended.
At Jaano, we tried to counter this problem by utilizing heat maps and other advanced data analytic tools, but those still did not produce the outcomes we and our customers needed. Unfortunately, there wasn’t an artificial intelligence tool capable of forecasting demand on the market; that was reliable enough to relocate and distribute our scooters in real time in a cost effective manner.
Eager to solve this industry problem, we started doing research on our own and had conversations with other sharing mobility companies in order to figure out how they were tackling this problem. To our surprise, most of them haven’t had the same exact problem with no real solution in place, the industry relied on heat maps and guessing! Multi-billion dollar companies are losing up to 70% of their conversion rate, due to the fact that the next available vehicle is too far away. Today many mobility companies believe to quash this dilemma by aggressively increasing their fleet size, instead of applying a sophisticated solution to utilize the fleet in the most effective way.
After a few months of endless searching we were introduced to our co-founders Prof. Frederik and Prost. Kevin that have cracked the code this industry was so desperate for. This was the birth of Mobility Science, a data analytics company for the mobility industry with a focus on fleet utilization, rebalancing and optimization.
Question 2: How do you envision Mobility Science Inc. to redefine fleet utilization?
Shared mobility companies are chronically unprofitable due to a lack of customer retention rate and a low customer lifetime value. Mobility Science is able to change that. Our sophisticated platform will act as the brain of the fleet. It is a challenging and complex undertaking to combine machine-learned techniques with dynamic programming in order to solve problems correctly and in real time. For example, Amazon has demonstrated that the key to high profits is to have happy customers, who are able to rely on a service or product. Let’s be honest here, no sharing service is really reliable enough to fully replace one’s personal vehicle, at least not yet. We are here to help with that transition.
Our ultimate goal is for personal vehicle ownership to become obsolete, as we provide a service that makes the shared vehicle more accessible and affordable than owning a car.
Mobility Sciences reach however is far greater than just the shared mobility industry, with our core ecosystem in the Silicon Valley, Germany and Japan we are able to address issues in the autonomous vehicles, aviation and freight industry, by addressing challenges such as collaborative trucking, as well as mobile mechanics.
Question 3: It seems safe to say that you believe in the potential of autonomous cars and the way they will disrupt the mobility sector. How soon do you think the technology would become mainstream?
We are prepared for a setting where we have so called driving zones, in which autonomous cars are operating. These zones are going to extend until we see wide coverage. At MS, we believe that this is a process of the next decade. We see a huge potential in AV because it embraces the transition from hardware to software. The algorithms that are running the AV as well as our algorithms, responsible of distributing the fleet in the most effective way will become more and more important.
Question 4: Do you anticipate any challenges in the adoption of this revolutionary technology, say from technical, social or regulatory angle?
AVs will fundamentally change and disrupt the mobility industry. However, the rise of AV will happen in phases. Presently, 90% of accidents are due to human error. If there is a reduction in human error, there will be decreased threat of accidents to insure. In turn, car insurance companies will try to hinder the implementation of AV, to protect their business interests. Particularly in the USA, car ownership is a defining part of the culture.
At MS, we anticipate that most individuals will be reticent to embrace the new technology. Therefore, it is important to create a user experience that is as convenient as possible. In the long term, we believe that people will switch to subscription-based shared mobility models and car ownership will become superfluous in urban areas.
Question 5: Can you elaborate on your expansion plans? Are there any collaborations on the cards?
In the end of August 2019, we are closing our seed funding. The feedback from venture capitalists and business angels has been amazing. We are actually oversubscribed since we are able to target multiple industries with our generic solution. With our strong background the shared mobility industry and now as a software solution provider we have developed strong network and knowledge that our customers trust. We know the problems the industry experiences first hand.
Within the next 12-16 months, we plan to cover the European and US scooter sharing market with our demand forecasting technology Saas platform. We enable the operators to make more money due to better vehicle accessibility and higher retention rates. Another revenue stream will be from industry giants who are currently asking us to help them overcome the next phase of technology disruption by AI. We are in the final negotiations with a big player in this market that is under NDA.