Q&A with the founder of Zoomo, the electric bike for couriers
Why did you found Zoomo?
When I was working at Deliveroo back in 2015, I found that the e-bike was the fastest and most efficient vehicle for food delivery, but came to discover that not many gig-workers could afford or find quality e-bikes.
Both myself and ex-colleague from Bain & Company, Michael Johnson, saw this as a need in the gig-economy for riders to have a safer and more efficient, affordable mode of transport.
We decided to market smart utility e-bikes as rental alternatives for food delivery services, with the inclusion of maintenance and other services, like theft recovery. What we later realised was that the business need for these vehicles extended way beyond that and that business fleets were also looking for more efficient delivery solutions. In turn, we built an enterprise platform with a similar offering of e-bike servicing, safety, and theft-prevention technology.
What can you tell us about Zoomo bike design?
Our DNA is in logistics, which is why Zoomo bikes are built for couriers who have to ride long shifts each day.
Safety and durability are our bikes best features, both of which are crucial for delivery riders. Our customers are doing upwards of 50,000 km/pa on a bike, making their requirements extremely different to the consumer space.
Some call-out features in our bikes that support the needs of delivery riders include our big batteries that can carry workers over that extra bit of hill on a late night slog, paired with features like dual hydraulic disc brakes to keep these riders safe no matter the weather or terrain.
Our anti-theft technology also tops the list of key features for us. Our newest bike, the Zoomo Sport, for example, is built with integrated smart technology that makes it virtually unstealable, including an integrated motor lock, RFID key activation and GPS tracking. When paired with our Zoomo Bikes Recovery Service - where we employ a dedicated team of Zoomo bike chasers to track down your bike and bring it back to a Zoomo store - thieves are realising that if it has a Zoomo logo on it, they can expect a knock at the door.
Zoomo bikes are designed in-house and manufactured in Taiwan.
There are three options to rent or own a Zoomo. What's the logic? And what is most popular?
One of the founding principles of the company is to make e-bikes accessible to all. Our flexible pricing is in place to reduce entry costs and make e-bikes available to groups who otherwise wouldn’t have access. We know that especially for gig workers who deal with uncertainty the decision to rent or buy is not always straightforward so we aim to provide them options.
The take-up of e-bikes in the United Kingdom (and across the globe) has been extraordinary, especially in line with the demand for delivery exploding - a trend that has remained steady since the pandemic. This has driven an uptake in the usage of e-bike amongst couriers, who benefit significantly from our subscription model, as it not only lowers the barrier of price, but also enables flexibility and peace of mind through inclusive servicing.
How important are your deals with businesses and courier companies?
Zoomo has two revenue streams - courier and enterprise (business and courier companies), and both are equally important for Zoomo.
Our deals with businesses and courier companies are critical as we operate in a climate where many companies are seeking to electrify their fleets. We are also seeing major developments in the grocery and rapid delivery companies, who are each promising faster delivery then the next one. The perfect form factor to electrify these fleets, and deliver goods fast, is via an e-bike.
Our partnerships with major players in the on-demand food and grocery delivery segment, including the likes of Deliveroo, UberEats, JustEat Takeaway, GoPuff, Getir, Gorillas and more, set us apart from other players in the industry.
Tell us about Zoomo the company
We’re currently based in Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe. In the United Kingdom specifically, we have operations in Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and multiple sites across London. We have both customer facing stores and a countrywide warehouse footprint from where we service our B2B customers. In exciting news, we’ve also just launched in France, Spain and Germany and we have a regional warehouse to service most of Europe, also in France. We’re exploring even more markets going into 2022. Watch this space.
You've just secured $60m. Who are the investors, and what's the money for?
We’re proud of the latest capital raise, as it positions Zoomo as the leader in the provision of e-bikes for delivery use by enabling us to take our offering to the next level, expand into new cities and countries, and importantly, strengthen our goal of electrifying commercial delivery fleets.
In the UK specifically, the funding will support our growth locally and enable us to further expand our footprint across the country, as well as significantly enhance our offering to existing and future customers. With access to additional capital, it means we can meet the needs of our customers faster, helping them to function and scale.
Importantly, we will also use the debt to be able to continue to price the bikes in a way that makes them affordable and accessible to couriers. From day one, we knew e-bikes were expensive for most couriers, so we set out to build a company that provides couriers with the best-in-class e-bike technology using a product that makes it affordable to them.
We’re thrilled to be backed by some world leading investors like Grok, ArcTern and Skip Capital to support our incredible growth and share in our vision to make e-bikes the default way of moving things around our cities.
How serious is bike theft? How does the threat of theft affect Zoomo's business model?
As we continue to see an uptake in e-bikes across couriers, commuters and businesses, it’s highly likely we will see a simultaneous rise in bike theft.
Bike thefts in London alone were up 18.9% in the last year, and it is a trend that has been plaguing riders across the globe, with a recent spotlight on the issue for delivery workers. In the US, a recent survey by the Workers Justice Project NYC found that 54 percent of the city’s delivery workers have had their bikes stolen. These bikes are expensive assets for delivery riders and as part of business’ fleets. Without them, individual workers can lose days of income.
To paint the picture even further, it’s becoming so commonplace that a thief made national news only just a few weeks back, after he was filmed in broad daylight stealing an e-bike using an angle grinder.
In saying this, the threat of bike theft provides an exciting opportunity for Zoomo to be a torchbearer in theft prevention. For delivery riders, it’s not just a stolen bike, but for many it is actually a very confronting situation when bike theft occurs. Our goal as a business is to ensure the safety of delivery riders and this extends to holding onto the vehicle they paid for. It’s why we continue to design our vehicles with industry leading anti-theft technology and appropriate features like front and back lights, reflectors, compliant brakes, horns and/ bells.
This market-leading technological and operational solution has been incredibly successful and as such we have turned theft prevention into a strength of our business model.
What are the factors that will lead to the success or failure of Zoomo?
The rise of quick commerce is faster and more aggressive than we could have imagined. Hot food delivery is also keeping pace and increasingly food delivery companies are hiring their workers and providing them with e-bikes. These factors all present incredible growth opportunities for the success of our business model.
And importantly, Zoomo’s success lies in the hands of society realising that transportation needs to change if we want to decarbonise our world. The more light EVs we can put on the road, the closer we are to achieving net zero emissions.
Our biggest obstacle remains to be supply chain complexities. Turbulence in the supply chain is being felt by 85% of businesses in the cycling industry. This is because demand continues to outweigh supply and market oversaturation is leading to shortages in critical bike equipment. Compounding this further are delays in shipping and skyrocketing freight costs. To quantify this demand, in the UK alone, e-bike sales are expected to triple by 2023. Despite witnessing some of the most intense supply chain challenges of our time, we’ve adapted and continued to thrive, and as a result we have built a scale-ready, flexible and resilient business.
What's the ten-year plan?
We see ourselves as an insurgent automotive company. In ten years (hopefully much earlier), so many trips will not be made on four-wheels. We have R&D, manufacturing, distribution via dealerships/ retail workshops and capital finance - all of which are the building blocks of an automotive company.
We want to continue to expand our footprint across the globe, with a vision to transition every urban delivery mile to light electric vehicles.