E-scooters put Swedish startup VOI on the road to positive cashflow
Growing numbers of young people whizzing around Europe's big cities on electric scooters may represent a nightmare for some pedestrians and motorists, but for Swedish sharing startup VOI, they offer a path to positive cashflow.
VOI co-founder and chief executive Fredrik Hjelm said safety was an important consideration and VOI had drawn up a code of conduct with the authorities in Stockholm for all operators, after a fatal accident involving an e-scooter.
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"Accidents are always very tragic and sad but since we're in transportation, unfortunately there's always a risk of accident. We can do everything we can on product operations and education but, ultimately, we're in the hands of the users," he added.
Critics have also said VOI and other operators could face the fate of Asian bike operators GoBee and Mobike, which crashed out of Europe due to price wars, vandalism and regulation. Hjelm said the sector had learnt from past mistakes, with VOI upgrading to a model with longer-range swappable batteries to eliminate transport costs and increase product life.
European startups VOI, Dott and Tier, and US rivals Bird and Lime have already put thousands of e-scooters on the roads of European cities, betting commuters will take to the two-wheelers in a region where far fewer own cars than in the United States. In France, e-scooters have been banned from pavements and, in Britain, they are not permitted on roads or pavements.
Hjelm said that VOI is already making a profit in several cities, including its hometown Stockholm, where its e-scooters account for about 70pc to 80pc of those on the roads.
"Our estimate is for VOI to be cashflow positive around late next year, but within three years for sure," Hjelm told Reuters in an interview at VOI's headquarters.