OSS Ventures
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OSS Ventures

Why we invested in Mob-ion

At OSS Ventures, we build and invest in world-changing companies specialized in operations. We think that in the next 10 years, a complete overhaul of our production model will be done.

About 96% of the economy falls under a simple model : market instant needs / design / build / sell / trash. This model environmental externalities are not priced in the product, which makes it financially viable, but it is killing our planet. This model also pushes for mass production and low usage life of goods, which in turn pushes for lower and lower production costs, which naturally pushes for low wages in countries where the social contract is as inhumane as possible. Over the last three decades, extreme tension on supply chain, offshoring to countries with very low standard of living became the norm, and entire empires have been built over that paradigm.

However, over the last three years, things started to change :

Part of our thesis at OSS Ventures is simple — that entire parts of the productive economy will be replaced by circular, regenerative models over the next decade. Schematically, it means pivoting from market instant needs / design / build / sell / trash to market intemporal needs / design / build / rent / repair / redesign / rent / repair (…).

This model is mighty hard to pull off for numerous reasons, and early attempts in some categories (fair phone, …) have been less than stellar. Ultimately, the hardships we saw time and time again in this category can fall under a limited (but sadly, not exhaustive) number of pitfalls :

With our investment and builder team, we were always on the lookout for companies proposing innovative ways of circling around those issues, and incredible founders putting the energy and the vision necessary to pull this off.

That’s when we met Christian.

Christian is an old-timer from the early web days. He created and sold an online booking company years before booking.com. He was then a founding investor in alloresto.fr sold to Just Eat Takeaway. He had been through hell and back during recessions and already made a fair bit of money in his time.

So why bother creating another company and not just chill on a boat ?

That was, funnily, because he chilled on a boat that he came about the idea of creating a company. He bought a boat that he put on the Seine for party and leisure purposes. That got him to repair the boat. It was an ancient boat. And he realized that this boat, which had been created a while ago, was almost entirely repairable. Very unlike modern boats. Which are not repairable.

Concerned, as we are, with the current environmental and social crisis, he began to dig up the issues of repairability and came to, basically, the same conclusions as OSS Ventures. Six years ago.

So he went on a mission : creating a circular, eco-designed and remanufacturable e-scooter.

Why a scooter ? Because, if you think trains are going to be a large part of the heavy duty of the future of transportation, the last mile is always going to be an issue. Last mile transportation is responsible for 60% of all kilometers that are not decarbonated right now. It’s also a major social barrier to getting a job in rural areas, because cars are expensive and so are scooters. It’s also what delivery workers use (or should be using) for food, last mile delivery, etc …

Instead of just buying a company full of industrial designers and industry specialists, Christian hired a bunch of like minded nerds and called his former buddies from Just Eat to cut a deal with them to serve as a territory of experimentation. Christian decided to transform domestic scooters into delivery vehicles thanks to a box support system at the rear. But these scooters accumulated technical and sealing problems and it was when Christian decided to find a way to extend the life of these vehicles that the notion of #PlannedSustainability emerged. In order to better understand the market and deploy a sustainable solution, Christian and his team have launched a whole series of studies. A total of 240 scooters have been studied over more than 5 million kilometers.

For two years, the team worked on sourcing Chinese suppliers to do the new parts, and then in-sourcing those parts, and re-engineering parts, until they got the scooter “right”. “Right” as in 73% fully reusable. “Right” as in 11x total life of components. “Right” as in 11 times lower impact on the environment. “Right” as in leveraging electronics (reusable also) to have software/hardware deep integration, a level of technology only known in Tesla cars (we know, we’ve been there). “Right” as in replacing about 40% of the total cost from materials to reshored, skilled, good jobs near consumption point.

Today, Christian’s model is based on several levers: the constant search for renewable and reusable materials, maximizing the “repairability” of parts, as well as reducing industrial waste and effluent discharges. Thanks to the design for disassembly, all the parts that make up the scooter can be disassembled, recovered and reassembled afterwards. We are at the heart of the remanufacturing which makes it possible to put a used part in a state of performance and warranty conditions identical or superior to its original condition.

Christian being Christian, he also found an abandoned factory in Northern France to start a production ramp and started getting contracts.

When we met Christian in his factory, the model got clearer and clearer.

But what struck the team was more than that :

The perfect mix of vision, grit, huge market, impact on the world was too good to pass on.

We wired the check after two weeks.

Here’s to building another type of productive model.

Here’s to founders working tirelessly on a vision.

Here’s to Mob-ion.

If you enjoyed this story, maybe you’re a founder, an industrial company, or a mix of the two. We are always on the lookout for like minded people. Drop us a line at renan@oss.ventures, or come by our Paris offices !



OSS is the startup studio of the future of manufacturing

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Renan Devillieres

I find our times fascinating. I began as an economist, then consulted a bit, co-founded an EdTech company and now a startup studio.