VC Briefing Recap: Perspectives on Mobility in MA

What a night! Hosted at Aptiv, this VC Briefing was packed full of insights on mobility, from autonomous cars to electric scooters.

MIT Tech Review Senior Editor Elizabeth Woyke moderates a conversation between former Boston CIO Jasha Franklin-Hodge and Fontinalis Partners co-founder and Partner Chris Cheever.

On Wednesday, October 17th, NEVCA was happy to join the Boston Mobility Roundtable to host leaders from all corners of the state’s thriving mobility industry for an overview of the ecosystem, discussion of emerging trends, and perspectives on the future.

Above all, the opening conversation and following flash talks highlighted the companies flourishing in the oft-overlooked mobility landscape right here in Boston, a city that has always had a lens for innovation and is ripe to experience a mobility revolution in the very near future.

Opening Introductions from Gretchen Effgen (nuTonomy) and Jody Rose (NEVCA)

Jody Rose (left) and Gretchen Effgen (right)

Jody Rose, NEVCA President, began by introducing the NEVCA as a force for powerful advocacy in the local innovation ecosystem and gave context to the evening’s speakers.

Gretchen Effgen, VP Global Partnerships for nuTonomy (an Aptiv company), introduced the Boston Mobility Roundtable, a group of companies aiming to shine a spotlight on Boston and the innovation taking place here. She also emphasized their goal to create stickiness in the marketplace that allows our geographic area to attract top talent and keep venture dollars here, as well as foster partnership and collaboration among private companies and the public sector.

Panel Conversation: Jascha Franklin-Hodge (Former CIO for the City of Boston), Chris Cheever (Fontinalis Partners), and moderator Elizabeth Woyke (MIT Tech Review)

Elizabeth Woyke (left), Chris Cheever (center), and Jascha Franklin-Hodge (right)

Chris Cheever began by introducing Fontinalis Partners and their context in mobility as a VC firm focused solely on technology related to mobility. He also noted the natural tension between public and private sectors; private companies are backed by VCs and want to get their products out and rush to scale, which is often at odds with the pace and priorities of public entities. He ended by noting that Boston is a great example of how this collaboration can work and of companies thinking of cities as real partners.

Jascha Franklin-Hodge described his focus as steering a wave of change in urban mobility to produce good public outcomes. He noted that some while some companies have brought change without engaging with cities, generally cities should take on partnership roles, such as data sharing, when it comes to new technology. He ended by highlighting that data provides incredible planning value to cities. They can see what the travel needs are for the public. If they know where people are riding scooters and bikes, they can see where parking is needed. If cities can see what’s happening, they can make
investments that help make improvements.

Flash Talks: Rafi Finegold (TrueMotion), Hannah Smith (Bird), Russ MacTough (Liberty Mutual Strategic Ventures), Jason Griswold (REIN), and Gretchen Effgen (nuTonomy, an Aptiv company)

Rafi Finegold (TrueMotion)

Rafi Finegold of TrueMotion: Smartphones are packed with sensors. Because 91% of drivers have smartphones, those sensors can help insurers understand how you drive and create insights that power insurance programs.

Hannah Smith (Bird)

Hannah Smith of Bird: Bird sees that peak ride times are during commuter hours, meaning people are filling their transportation gaps by integrating Bird into their day-to-day commutes. Bird invests in shared infrastructure by sharing profits with cities they operate in ($1 per scooter, per day). Much in line with Jascha’s ideal private-public model, Bird also shares an enormous amount of data with cities.

Russ MacTough (Liberty Mutual Strategic Ventures)

Russ MacTough of Liberty Mutual Strategic Ventures: Because Liberty Mutual insures cars, autonomous vehicles present both an existential threat and a great opportunity. Emerging risks include cyber-security, robo-taxis, autonomous fleets, and AV level 4–5. Since Liberty has a wide-ranging view of risk, they are investing in companies that are forward-thinking in the mobility technology space.

Jason Griswold (REIN)

Jason Griswold of REIN: REIN is a platform for creating new insurance products within online ecosystems, mobility, and robotics. They recently raised a $7.3M round, which included funding from Liberty Mutual Strategic Ventures. REIN is 100% focused on emerging risks, much like those mentioned by Russ.

Gretchen Effgen (nuTonomy, an Aptiv company)

Gretchen Effgen (nuTonomy, an Aptiv company): Mobility fleets will come much sooner than personally owned autonomous vehicles. As a part of Aptiv, nuTonomy is focused on vehicle autonomy technology that will power the mobile fleets of the future. Currently, Aptiv is partnering with Lyft in Las Vegas, giving riders the option to ride in an AV.

Another successful VC Briefing in the books (we dare to say it was the best yet)! A special thanks to Aptiv for sharing their top-notch space with the community for an evening of education, shared perspectives, and networking.

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