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British Startup Gets Investment to Grow ‘Free’ e-bike Sharing Service

HumanForest, a dockless, shared and ad-supported e-bike service which began trialing a service in London this June, has taken in its first round of external funding. The $2.3M investment comes from backers in the mobility space. [1]

As part of the investment, Cabify’s Vincente Pascual has joined the HumanForest board along with Stefan Tilk, CEO of electric car manufacturer NEVS (and a former AB Volvo executive). HumanForest says the new funding will be used to grow its bike fleet, aiming to have 2,000 e-bikes in London within a year.

Despite the already intense activity, the company believes there is still room to innovate on the e-bike sharing model. The service offers users 20 free minutes of ride time per day. The free ride minutes are supported by ads shown via the HumanForest app. Pricing thereafter is £0.12 per minute though users may be able to gain further free ride minutes via promotions and competitions. Since the service launched in June this year, 14,000 riders have taken almost 42,000 rides with the number of rides increasing by over 100% month on month. [2]

Joining board member Stefan Tilk comments: “I am pleased to be part of the HumanForest board in this new adventure. With over 30 years of experience in the mobility sector at traditional companies such as Volvo, I know how important this next phase of the electric transport revolution is going to be. HumanForest has a unique business model that is completely new to the industry and it couldn’t be timelier as electric transport is set to change the way people move.”

 

Personal comment

In the current COVID-19 landscape, this type of service and business model should form an attractive solution, offering efficient, affordable, and largely socially distant mobility option with the potential of covering a variety of use cases. It will be interesting to see how well the ad-supported business model will work in this context, and in what more precise direction it will lead. It is also interesting to see NEVS CEO Stefan Tilk joining the board (adding additional board assignments to his role at GAIS football club).

 

Written by Victor Malmsten Lundgren, RISE Mobility and Systems.

 

Sources

1. 2020-09-07. HumanForest gets $2.3M from Cabify founders and others to grow a ‘free’ e-bike sharing service

2. 2020-09-07. British startup HumanForest, a ‘free’ shared e-bike, raises €2 million and appoints Cabify Founder to its Board