Our Investment in Revel

Connecting cities, neighborhoods, and people in a safe, affordable, & emissions-free future

Jay Kapoor
May 30 · 6 min read

As a New York City resident for nearly a decade, I have a love-hate relationship with our public transit. That relationship is further tested when it comes to reaching the parts of Brooklyn and Queens where the MTA Subway runs on more of an “honor system” than any scheduled reliability.

When the “kick-scooter revolution” stormed several US cities in 2017, many New Yorkers wondered when Gotham was getting our own electric two-wheelers. Those holding their breath for kick scooter rentals in NYC will likely turn blue when they read the Mayor’s continued objections to dockless scooter share companies in New York. Meanwhile, the cities that have become the prey of Bird face numerous challenges like the blight of littered scooters on street corners, rampant theft or vandalism, and near-daily tales of collisions and accidents — especially when scooters end up on sidewalks.

Citi Bike, which NYC launched in 2013, is definitely one option for trips that go cross town for a few blocks and/or from one neighborhood to the next. Yet even with electric pedal assist (which have since been pulled from NYC’s streets), Citi Bike trips tend to top out at 1.5 to 2 miles, with the median falling far shorter. Also, the need to always seek a dock to begin or ending a Citi bike ride makes these even less convenient for riders in more spread out boroughs, compared to those in midtown or downtown Manhattan.

Of course, yellow cabs, Uber/Lyft, and car share options are great for certain situations, times of night, or for longer cross borough trips (5+ miles) but for most of the day, they contribute to evermore traffic congestion which leads to riders spending more time sitting in traffic than actually moving towards their destination. And that doesn’t even take into account the harmful emissions that tens of thousands of fossil-fueled vehicles generate in New York boroughs every single day.

New York City, like many cities across the US, deserves a better way to traverse our great neighborhoods and boroughs. Thankfully, Revel is here to fulfill that promise of a cleaner, safer, and more affordable transit future. LaunchCapital is incredibly proud of Revel and thrilled to be along for the ride.

Revel is a Brooklyn-based urban mobility company focused on providing an electric moped-sharing solution to major metro areas, starting with yesterday’s expansion of 1,000 electric mopeds across Brooklyn & Queens. Below are just a few of the reasons why both I and LaunchCapital’s Managing Partner, Cliff Sirlin, couldn’t wait to invest in Revel and help them to become NYC’s first electric moped sharing solution:

Building Safety & Trust: Like CEO Frank Reig and COO Paul Suhey, when approaching the opportunity, we respected the electric moped as a motor vehicle — not a toy scooter. Turns out, this perspective is also widely shared by city Departments of Transit (DOT), with whom you definitely cannot “move fast and break things” in the way some micromobility companies have done.

Revel’s focus on safety and trust is the first, critically important, thing that excites us:

  • Revel’s mopeds are registered with the DMV, fully street legal with top speed of 29 mph, are rented much like a ZipCar or Car2Go via the Revel app, and charged $1 to unlock, then $0.25 per minute.
  • Drivers need a valid US driver’s license and undergo a real-time background check to confirm the rider’s identity, license validity, and status of any excessive speeding or DUI validations that might disqualify a prospective rider.
  • Mopeds weigh 180+ lbs (so good luck putting that up in a tree), specifically designed with a low center of gravity, and simple to master/balance for anyone who has ridden a bicycle before.
  • Each moped is fully insured for up to two-riders and each vehicle comes with two helmets so there is no excuse to not follow appropriate safety procedures when riding a Revel moped.
  • Revel’s team also offers free lessons to anyone who would like a little extra help in making sure they get the safest, most comfortable, most fun experience out of their future ridership with Revel.

In fact, on May 29th 2019, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson was so impressed with Frank’s & Paul’s focus on safety and affordability, as well as their willingness to work hand-in-hand with the city, that he issued a Proclamation from the New York City Council honoring and welcoming Revel’s expansion throughout NYC.

Deep Operational Expertise: We were highly impressed us with the team’s thoroughness and thoughtfulness in regards to Revel’s rollout, with very little initial capital raised. I first met Frank and Paul shortly after their Summer 2018 launch and had the opportunity to follow their pilot program closely for a few months before making our investment. The overwhelming success of their pilot program is a testament to their metrics-focused approach, understanding of their unit & ride economics, and willingness to experiment and iterate on their operational process, getting it just right, before taking on an endeavor of this magnitude.

After 10 months of operating with just ~70 mopeds in a controlled pilot in Williamsburg, Greenpoint, and Bushwick, and with ridership data on 35,000-plus rides from over 4,000 active users, Revel is finally ready to scale their much-needed program throughout 20-plus neighborhoods across Brooklyn and Queens.

Tremendous Expansion Opportunity: While the kick scooter space has become overcrowded, overfunded, and overhyped, the market need for a more serious two-wheeler solution has gone largely unmet. Even with competing options in the US like Scoot or Muving, cities specifically invite Revel in to help educate them on the operational excellence necessary to help city dwellers and commuters get around efficiently, especially where public transit has failed them. Revel is setting the high bar in this regard

With moped sharing in Spain, Belgium, and Germany all providing relevant blueprints for Revel, we believe electric moped adoption in the US rests heavily on the ability to work with city DOTs as well as state and local officials to respect existing infrastructure while helping cities adapt to this new mode of transportation. From the early feedback we’ve seen, LaunchCapital remains highly confident that Frank and Paul are poised to succeed where their competitors have run out of gas.

Exceptional team of investors/advisors: Couldn’t be more thrilled to announce this investment in Revel’s Seed round, led by Michael Granoff and Prescott Watson from Maniv Mobility, a firm we’ve respected for many years and are honored to finally invest alongside. Frank and Paul have also surrounded themselves with hands-on investors and advisors including former GMs of Citi Bike, GetAround, and Car2Go. It’s going to be a wild ride helping Frank and Paul achieve their ambitious vision for Revel, and we couldn’t have wished for a better crew on this road trip.

LaunchCapital’s Jay Kapoor & Cliff Sirlin take early Revel moped prototypes for test drives in August & November 2018

I’d also like to sincerely thank my friends Sarika Patel and Sri Pisupati for the initial introduction to Revel, almost a year ago. It reinforces for me that the best opportunities can come from unexpected networks and reminds me to keep a more open mind for markets where blindly following consensus wisdom would lead us to miss out on investing in extraordinary founders like Frank Reig and Paul Suhey.

Revel’s full fleet will be out on the streets by the first week of June 2019 and their stellar team is growing just as quickly — both within field operations and on new market strategy. If you think you’d like to be a part of this game-changing journey, check out Revel’s career page and/or leave me a comment/DM if you’d like to learn more.

LaunchCapital

News and Thoughts From The LaunchCapital Team

Jay Kapoor

Written by

VC investor at LaunchCapital | I read and write about Tech, Media, SaaS, & Investing | Don’t be afraid of failure. Be afraid of being ordinary.

LaunchCapital

News and Thoughts From The LaunchCapital Team

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