10 investors predict MaaS, on-demand delivery and EVs will dominate mobility’s post-pandemic future – TechCrunch

COVID-19 epidemic Did not just promote the transport industry. It bridged its weaknesses, and conversely, highlighted potential opportunities.

Electric bike sales faded as public transit riders. The public, and investors, began to recognize the utility of autonomous pavement distribution bots, which were once seen only as novelties; The growing popularity of on-demand delivery prompted major retailers such as Walmart to put more resources to meet the needs of consumers and was one of the driving forces behind Uber’s decision to dump almost every business unit And to acquire postmates.

Uppermost? Change is not over. After our May of 2020 Field survey And about that The effect of COVID-19 in particular, TechCrunch spoke with 10 investors about the state of mobility, what they are most excited about their next investments and what they are looking for. They see opportunities within the software, particularly around mobility-as-a-service service and fleet management, continue to demand delivery and push for electrification and batteries as well as financial instruments – SPACS – that so All startups changed in 2020. There is so much more; They also look at tailwinds for eVTOLs.

Here we have interviewed:


Clara Brenner, Co-founder and Managing Partner, Urban Innovation Fund

COVID-19 disrupted almost every sector of the transport industry. Demand for e-bikes increased, shared scooters initially struggled with some rebonding, decreased ridership in ride-healing and declining public transit as consumers turned to cars and other options. Meanwhile, demand for delivery skyrocketed and the autonomous vehicle industry went through a consolidation. Which sectors will recover in 2021 and where are the new and unlikely opportunities to invest?

COVID has described how drastic, rebellious and disparate change in American equipment is empowering cities to compensate private enterprise for the monetization of public infrastructure, and ensure that more equitable mobility is used in my Be exciting. Companies like the Ride Report that help cities wrap their arms around the various public and private transit that occur on their roads are exciting to me.

What are the remaining opportunities for new startups, now that the autonomous vehicle industry is witnessing unprecedented consolidation, billion-dollar funding rounds, and even the closure of some low-volume commercial operations?

Autonomous vehicles still have a long way to go, and there is still plenty of room for new startups to make their way to this location. In particular, we are keen to see new entrants working on software tools to facilitate regulation and parking.

Which are the unseen areas in which you want to invest, now legacy manufacturers are shifting their portfolio to power and new EV makers are preparing to start production?

We are very interested in the emerging fleet management space – and this is reflected in one of our recent investments, including Electrify (software to help the fleet transition to electric) and Kyte (a magical car rental Activating the underground fleet to give experience). There is a lot of efficiency from the fleet model for transportation – we think this will be an important area in the coming years.

What is the key to success for future transportation startups? Do you expect early-stage financing in this area to stay warm indefinitely? Do you see SPACs as a way of long-term liquidity for a large number of startups in the region?

Transportation is fundamentally important to all people and is a real mess, so it will likely remain a hot topic and a source of investor interest for years to come. However, for capital-intensive transportation companies, rounds have become so huge and expensive that they often make little sense to participate in early-stage funds (they fall short). Not that it disappoints many investors at the moment.

At Urban Innovation Fund, we are spending a lot of time looking at software tools that enable large hardware systems to work more efficiently. In terms of long-term liquidity, SPACs represent a good option for many companies. This said, consolidation / merger is the most logical outcome for most companies in the transport sector – where strategic partnerships and integration represent significant competitive advantages.

What do you want to see from the Biden administration to accelerate innovation in the transport sector?

I want to see the Biden administration invest in our urban public transit systems – we know those systems can work beautifully. It may not accelerate “innovation”, but it will accelerate progress. This is a fundamental illusion in the VC space – innovation does not always make equal progress.

Sean Carolan, Partner, Menlo Ventures

COVID-19 disrupted almost every sector of the transport industry. Demand for e-bikes increased, shared scooters initially struggled with some rebonding, decreased ridership in ride-healing and declining public transit as consumers turned to cars and other options. Meanwhile, delivery demand skyrocketed, and the autonomous vehicle industry went through consolidation. Which sectors will do well in 2021, and where are the new and unlikely opportunities to invest?

To a great extent all aspects of transportation will see recovery in 2021 with an acute desire to relinquish normal, daily infections, better mask compliance and increased immunization. The slowest would be work use cases where “new normal” for many would be 50% -100% fewer trips to the office on a monthly basis.

Personal over shared movement: The psychological consequences of the epidemic will last for some time; People do and will continue to prefer more distance from others. It will accelerate the acceleration of personalized e-mobility solutions, including scooters and e-bikes (where we are investors), outright purchase and subscription models, asset-sharing models where riders are not close to strangers () GetAround, Turo, Lime , Bird) and UberPools and similar single-rider Ubers and Lyfts.

E-commerce supply chain: E-commerce has experienced a step-function in demand that will continue. Many shippers, trucking companies, manufacturers, distributors, etc. are still poorly connected, inefficient, and managed with paper and manual labor. The entire supply chain is ripe for efficiency and clarity like Amazon; It will operate in factory / warehouse level automation, robotics, best-breed fulfillment and logistics software such as Alloy, Fox Robotics and Shipbox.

Local Distribution: Instacart, DoorDash, UberEights, etc. have brought local distribution into the mainstream. This trend will continue, and the large unaffiliated will be working hard to complete their labor rather than letting the distribution fleet catch up to all the upsides. Companies such as AnyCart that streamline ordering for grocery and dishes can compete with larger grocery chains to deliver an attractive user experience and a more reasonable price.

What are the remaining opportunities for new startups, now that the autonomous vehicle industry is witnessing unprecedented consolidation, billion-dollar funding rounds, and even the closure of some low-volume commercial operations?

Unless there is a reporter, transportation will always exist to make transportation better, faster and cheaper for a given distance. Incoming big levers are:

Electric propulsion (on land and air) achieves much lower cost per mile with low OPEX motors per mile and low cost of fuel versus recharged fuel. Opportunities exist here for component companies making better batteries, motors and quieter propellers.

Better asset utilization: More efficient routing of vehicles (through routing software), higher capacity utilization (through more efficient market), and less downtime (through better scheduling and optimization algorithms) leading to lower prices.

Autonomy: The costs of driver transport are a large part of both the structure and the accident. Human-level autonomy is still closed for many years, but we see a lot of opportunities for autonomy through constrained environments (vehicles moving in repetitive patterns with few constraints) and wind.

What are the unseen areas in which you want to invest? Now that legacy manufacturers are shifting their portfolio to electric, and new EV manufacturers are preparing to start production, what are the undiscovered areas in which you want to invest?

We believe that there are many transportation options beyond the car. Electric scooters, bikes, eVTOLs and others will continue to grow in popularity for both utility and fun.

What is the key to success for future transportation startups? Do you expect early-stage financing in this area to stay warm indefinitely? Do you see SPACs as a way of long-term liquidity for a large number of startups in the region?

There will be a perennial area of ​​transportation opportunity that shows how large a portion of the consumer spends in it. By the late 2000s, Silicon Valley barely touched transportation; This has certainly changed dramatically since that period, especially with the rise of Tesla.

It is often quite capital intensive, however. Proving the economics of a small-scale concrete unit before scaling up would become more of a mandate given to the machine in the shared scooter market and showed that rapid growth does not solve all crises.

We would love to see better debt financing for electric vehicle companies. With their very low operating costs and low-interest macro environments, we would find ourselves, if there were large pools of clean transportation loan capital that could get more vehicles into consumers’ lives through nominal monthly fees that were rapidly Adoption will go a long way in growing. For example, the Unagi-access subscription subscription offers a beautiful personal scooter for $ 30- $ 40 per month with great ROI usage patterns and reliability. If the debt market prepares these funds to finance, then it can be a good win.

SPACs prove to be a good option for companies with high IP&D costs and a long horizon to reach traditional IPO milestones (ie, $ 100 million ARR). Some of these projects are not working, although retail investors will be left holding the bag if there is a stock crater. This will be a very large-scale Kickstarter “fail launch” event, and will have some bad consequences.

Corporate venture capital, primarily industrial and automated focused companies, is becoming more aggressive as the industry recognizes its need to adapt.

What do you want to see from the Biden administration to accelerate innovation in the transport sector?

We would love to see aggressive policies to advance the acceleration of clean technology. In addition to the obvious environmental imperatives to reduce carbon emissions, it makes good economic sense. Some examples would be personal and corporate tax credits that provide little environmental impact. All types of electric vehicles (scooters, bikes, cars, boats, etc.), installing solar for home and utility plants, using EVs for material handling, etc.

Make the US a ground and air test base by making regulation more favorable relative to competitors like Europe and China.

The future of lithium-ion extraction and manufacturing. This is the “white oil” of our generation.

Aggressive funding of research and development at universities and commercial research laboratories, including a shot at changing cost equations for batteries, motors, propellers, power grids, etc., can fundamentally improve building blocks.