Small businesses are critical to our worldwide economy, especially in the shared mobility space. Globally, the majority of employers are small and medium sized business owners. These small and medium enterprises (SMEs) play a major role in most economies, particularly in developing countries and are very important contributors to both workforce and global economic development. In Canada, small businesses employ 68.8% of the total private labour force and medium-sized businesses employ 19.7%. They represent around 90% of businesses worldwide and make up more than 50% of employment globally!
In the transportation industry, it is usually these local small/medium sized businesses that have lasting power. Bigger mobility players such as car2go or Lime, Bird, Lyft, Uber etc. come and go across our cities but the small businesses are the ones that stick around and keep moving people when the big corporations give up or move on.
Also, more often than not, mobility is a privilege for many and it should be a right. This is where small shared mobility companies and start-ups are really making an intentional difference. They are developing and innovating the technology and systems necessary to help correct this injustice. Young ventures are shaping the way people and goods are moving and how this will evolve in the future – which is why we are alway rooting for the underdog!
Over the last two years, during the pandemic, it was small and medium sized businesses that suffered the most and many are still feeling the lingering economic pressures that Covid-19 presented. That is why it’s never been more important to support, build, and encourage both small and local businesses, especially within the shared mobility sector. As it is National Small Business Week, we wanted to take a moment to celebrate some of the small businesses in our network that are making strides this year, despite facing overwhelming challenges. 💪
The Flight Plan to Emission Free Aviation
Hydroplane Ltd. is a minority woman founded, owned, and led sustainable aviation and green energy storage for transportation technology company. They are developing a 200 kW hydrogen fuel cell power plant for aviation, marine, and fleet vehicle applications. Hydroplane was the Empower Women in Shared Mobility Program’s most Outstanding Applicant! Both movmi and the panel of judges were both impressed and inspired by the work they are doing in the field of aviation. Our EmpowerWISM 2022 MC Crissy Ditmore had a fireside chat with Hydroplane’s Founder and CEO, Anita Sengupta.
Watch their full chat below. 👇
Aviation, marine, and large fleet vehicle automotive sectors are major contributors to carbon emissions and their percentage is on the rise as battery electrification does not have the energy density to support these platforms. Hydroplane’s hydrogen fuel cell powerplant technology will enable electrification of small aircraft for the UAM shared mobility use case as a catalyst to support decarbonization of multiple aviation use cases. The powerplant is also an electrification option for marine vessels, buses, trucks, and even the hyperloop.
Just last week Hydroplane announced that they signed its second U.S. Air Force (USAF) Small Business Technology Transfer contract, marking the close of the innovative hydrogen powerplant technology start up’s seed round. This contract allows the company, in partnership with the University of Houston, to demonstrate an engineering model hydrogen fuel cell based powerplant in a ground and flight demonstration. Hydroplane is on track to fly its demonstrator aircraft in 2023! 🙌 Massive congratulations to Anita and the team at Hydroplane! We can’t wait to see what the next few years have in store for you!
Green tech provider of electric bike sharing systems and e-mobility
BYKKO is a multi-award-winning Australian shared mobility platform for e-bikes and micromobility. What is unique about BYKKO is their extensive experience in both technology development and daily operations, as well as network planning and urban cycling expertise.
They have developed an end-to-end solution with a single point of contact, providing service and support to partners, across technology deployment, user experience and fleet management. With BYKKO station-based systems, an e-bike is charged while docked, without any intervention from the operator or the user. This reduces operational costs and rebalancing efforts and reduces the risk of revenue loss due to low battery issues or bike unavailability. Bykko provide’s e-bikes that are securely fixed to an immovable structure which reduces fleet misuse so the lifespan of the e-bikes is considerably longer than other models.
The BYKKO platform also gathers data from e-bikes and charging stations through a combination of technologies, including IoT, GPS, ECU and automatics systems. This technology simplifies the operations, and helps developing a bespoke e-bike share network building a durable financial model that requires minimal operational and labour support.
In a recent company update, last month the Blue Mountains City Council in Katoomba, Australia, voted unanimously to establish a 12-month trial for the electric bike share system. 🙌 In an interview with Monica Zarafu, Bykko’s Founder and CEO, she said they “always take a hyper-local, collaborative approach with cities when selecting our sites”.
“Cycling is a sustainable transport choice that protects the natural and heritage values of Katoomba’s extraordinary places. Blue Mountains has extensive cycleway and shared pathway infrastructure and local businesses are in a unique position to capitalise on this value-added offering. Katoomba could easily become a five minute city on an e-bike.”
Bykko were the runner-up of our EmpowerWISM 2021 Program and that same year, Monica took the Innovator of the Year at the Women In Digital 2021 National Awards. 👏 We are so inspired by the work of Monica and Bykko and can’t wait for more updates on your shared mobility journey.
Learn more about Bykko from our Partner Spotlight here.
The leader in mobility services and fleet management
Shift Transit is a leading mobility operations company, managing 25,000+ mobility assets on a day-to-day basis, including scooters, bikes, carsharing vehicles, and shared vans. Shift manages all facets of mobility programs, including: launch planning, asset deployment, fleet management, marketing and sales, customer service and government relations.
Shift Transit was founded in 2015 to create a partnership approach with cities, with the goal of operating complicated transportation systems successfully. For example, bike share has only been around for a decade in North America and it can be extremely complicated to launch and implement a successful system. With it, you have to deal with solar technology, cell technology, software, as well as the gritty operations management. Shift Transit, as the operator of Bike Share Toronto, makes sure that the bikes are ready to ride and safe on a daily basis, especially when you are doing 30,000 rides/day! 👏
Last year we interviewed Eddie Inlow, Founder and CEO of Shift Transit in our Partner Spotlight series. If you’d like to learn more about the company and how they navigated the challenges created by the pandemic, watch in full below. 👇
Despite 2021 being a tough year for small businesses, several of Shift Transit mobility programs shattered ridership, revenue, and customer acquisition records! 👏 Their bikeshare programs in Toronto and Chattanooga continued their exponential growth and exceeded all of their clients’ aggressive KPI targets, paving the way for 2022 program expansions.
In addition, 2021 was a year of firsts for the company. In July, they took over day-to-day operations of Chicago’s Cycle Center (now HUB312), a marquee mobility hub located in iconic Millennium Park. This was their first venture outside of the shared mobility sector! We are so proud of Shift Transit’s 2021 success stories and are eagerly anticipating what our Partner will accomplish in 2022!
Developing MaaS platforms and apps so that employees and citizens can enjoy green and active daily travel
Fluidtime, a company located in Vienna, Austria specializes in integrated mobility solutions. They offer app and platform technology for Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) enables intermodal trip planning, booking, and payment across all transport modes. Due to their very modular architecture they are able to offer various services to different use cases and usually offer them as software as a service. Their customers include public authorities, transport operators and also real estate companies.
We interviewed Fluidtime Head of Sales, Vlad Marica, as part of our Multimodal Mondays series last year for a chat about Mobility Hubs. As Fluidtime’s Head of Sales, Vlad is responsible for Fluidtime’s sustainable growth through signing new customers, generating leads and opportunities and building up a partner network. Vlad ensures the organic growth of Fluidtime’s company and products and represents the company at events and shows.
Watch the full interview below. 👇
Every year Fluidtime hosts their Fluidtime MaaS Symposium, which is the #1 peer event in the field of Mobility as a Service. It brings together interested individuals and experts from all over the world every year. The 6th edition took place last year on the 16th and 17th September in Vienna and focused on the importance of ecosystems under the motto “The ecosystem play”.
If you missed the latest symposium, check out their insights report below. 👇
Fluidtime truly are leading the Mobility-as-a-Service charge with their world class technology solutions for operators and companies. We firmly believe that MaaS is the future of shared mobility and we can’t wait to see what is next for our innovative partner! 🙌
The Big Challenges For Small Businesses
Public agencies can make it really hard for small businesses to get up and running. An example of this is British Columbia’s micromobility law. If let’s say, a place like Coquitlam (in B.C.) wants to launch e-scooters, they have to put an application in with the province. The province then evaluates it and if they approve the application, Coquitlam then needs to change their bylaws. In big cities it’s easy for the larger players to lobby and get these changes approved. However, if a small local player wants to get up and running (let’s say in Coquitlam) the hurdles are too big and expensive. By the time this whole process is through (if anyone even starts it) the small player is bankrupt.
Another struggle that small businesses face are the strict insurance requirements placed upon them from cities and public agencies. If we take micromobility as an example, due to a lack of regulation and policies in place when scooter first landed on our streets, e-scooters received a lot of back-lash and negative press from sidewalk accidents and littering. Now, in order to get ensure micromobility companies win RFPs with cities, they have to navigate a few key areas including, rider safety, operating permits and insurance regulations.
Insurance can help can help these companies prove that their service is a viable, long-term solution, but this can also become very expensive for small businesses. For example, Los Angeles was the first county in the U.S. to include insurance requirements on operating permit applications for e-scooter ride-share companies and has some of the strictest microbility insurance requirements including:
- $5 million limit of general liability (GL) per occurrence for bodily injury (BI), personal injury, and property damage (PD);
- $5 million GL general aggregate;
- $1 million Hired and Non-Owned Auto (HNOA) or commercial auto liability;
- $1 million employee benefit;
- $5 million umbrella policy; and
- $2 million errors and omissions (E&O)/cyber coverage.
What needs to happen?
Small businesses should be given a real advantage in procurement. We need to create procurement policies and processes that are accessible to (and protect) the smaller companies so that they stand a chance going up again the big corporations.
If you would like to get in touch with any of our shared mobility partners featured here, please contact us here and we will connect you. If you’d like to learn more about or join our partner network, click here.