Today, EQT Ventures announced a €20m funding round, alongside Naspers, in Amsterdam-based micro-mobility sharing startup dott, co-founded by Maxim Romain and Henri Moissinac of ofo fame.
Just like every other VC in Europe (and the rest of the world), the EQT Ventures team spent most of the spring and summer discussing, exploring, debating and meeting with electric scooter sharing companies. As VCs, we naturally love to make up acronyms that make sense, so we’re calling the space Short-haul-urban-transportation-as-a-Service: ShutaaS (we tried making the acronym longer, but couldn’t come up with more words).
“Scooters compete with walking! What’s the market size of that?? :)” Andrew Chen of a16z wrote, and all VCs put this quote in their IC materials (us too!).
“You have to try it out yourself, it will revolutionize short distance transportation” everyone said, and so we did.
“It existed 100 years ago but didn’t take off” some skeptics said and pointed to this awesome picture:
After all the meetings, research and discussions, our favorite by a long way was Amsterdam-based dott.
So, why back a new entrant when many players have been in the market for months?
“It’s going to be really hard to compete with those companies” multiple people told us, and that’s probably true, but….
Firstly, dott is not an entirely new team. The founders, Maxim (the operator) and Henri (the deal maker), met when they were running the European markets for Chinese dockless bike sharing company ofo. There, they’d already gathered a stellar team of innovators and operators. After spending some more time with the dott team, we felt that they collectively had the attitude, ambition, product feel and experience to win in the increasingly crowded micro-mobility space. The fact that the dott team is also European at heart, with people from all over Europe ready to take a “locals with locals” approach to rollout, made it an excellent cultural match with our team at EQT Ventures.
Just like us, the dott team believes the market will look very different in a fairly short space of time. While some first movers in the ShutaaS-market have early product market fit already, we agree that ShutaaS will develop rapidly over the coming years and look very different soon, not least in the European markets.
Secondly, most really successful tech success stories were not actually the first company in their space, but eventually “won” their markets by building a great team that delivered a superior product experience to their customers. Amazon was not the first eCommerce company, Google not the first search engine, and so on. You get the point. So far, in EQT Ventures’ portfolio, we have multiple companies that fit the description “great team enters crowded market and still excels”:
- Peakon was not the first company enabling employers to get insight into how their teams are feeling, but it’s nevertheless thriving as one of the fastest growing European-based SaaS companies
- Small Giant Games certainly didn’t create the world’s first match-3 mobile game with a midcore RPG element, but it’s nevertheless in the top 10 grossing charts worldwide and essentially printing money in an industry that has 100,000 new entrants every year
- Wolt wasn’t the first company that aspired to deliver great food to the doorsteps of hungry Europeans, but it continues to thrive, serving a fast-growing number of Europeans their favorite food.
To propel dott’s launch of its uniquely designed eScooters and eBikes across European cities, we’ve joined forces with our friends at Naspers. Other investors include DN Capital, Felix Capital, FJ Labs, U-Start Club, Axel Springer Digital Ventures and angel investors.
The coming months and years will definitely be exciting, both in ShutaaS generally and for dott specifically. Transforming walking through ShutaaS is easy to get excited about and we think that the dott team has a great chance to produce the best combination of:
a) Sturdy, safe and ride-friendly hardware, designed in-house
b) A frictionless and delightful mobile experience
c) One of Europe’s most experienced ops teams, already in place
d) Working together with the European regulators in a locals-with-locals approach
… to become the #1 ShutaaS choice for millions of Europeans in 2019.
Lars, Ted, Henrik and the rest of the EQT Ventures team