‘Like every startup, we’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way’
It’s only been three decades because they hit the streets and Revel’s blue electric mopeds have already become a common sight in New York, San Francisco and a growing number of U.S. cities. However, Revel creator and CEO Frank Reig has set his sights far beyond building a shared moped service.
So we caught up with Reig to talk about what he learned from building the firm, how Revel’s business strategy has evolved, and what lies ahead.
Before we get to the good stuff, here’s some background:
The idea for Revel appears like it came in the traditional entrepreneur’s guidebook: Reig had a need that no existing business addressed. He’d seen mopeds utilized as major, if not dominant, forms of transportation as he traveled around Europe, Asia and Latin America, and he wondered why that logical (and enjoyable ) mode of transportation was largely absent from American cities generally, and in his hometown, New York City, in particular.
So in 2018, Reig quit his job, increased $1.1 million in 57 people, and launched a small pilot program between 68 mopeds at Brooklyn. In May 2019, he increased $4 million in VC financing, which helped him expand to 1,000 electrical mopeds across Brooklyn and Queens. Revel secured another $33.8 million in September 2019, in a round that included financing from Ibex Investments, Toyota Ventures, Maniv Capital, Shell and Hyundai, according to Reig. This has allowed the founder to perform a grander plan to construct an electrical mobility company.
The company now operates over 3,000 e-mopeds at New York City, also contains another 3,000 across Washington, D.C., Miami, Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco.
TechCrunch: You’ve added three new business lines and told us previously that you have more on the way. That is a lot.
Frank Reig: Yes, we have had a busy start to 2021! We began the year declaring our fast-charging stations throughout the city that will help fill the huge gap in infrastructure to support the wide-scale adoption of EVs. We launched our e-bike subscription application to provide New Yorkers a different way to navigate their town, and with our recently announced electrical ride-sharing program, we’re solving the”chicken and egg” problem of EV charging and demand. We are focused on building out these business lines and also our moped company as well and very much looking forward to what is to come.
When shared micromobility companies expand, they frequently just offer you various vehicles. You seem to be going,”Ok, we’ll offer a different vehicle — an e-bike, but it’s a subscription. And we’re also doing electric vehicle chargers, and let’s add an EV rideshare to the mix.” It’s fairly broad.
If we are talking about electrifying freedom in major towns, it starts with infrastructure. And we’re the firm rolling our sleeves up and doing it now by building that infrastructure and operating fleets. Since in a city like New York, the infrastructure does not exist for electric mobility.
There are a few Tesla superchargers across the city, typically behind parking paywalls, so you’ve got to pay the garage to use it. And, of course, you want a Tesla for this infrastructure to even be relevant. When you consider other public fast-charging access points in the city, they’re few and far between. We are building 30 at one site and a lot more beyond that in 2021.
New York is a complicated city to function in, so it’s easier for people to include e-bikes as a service since I already have the infrastructure and also on-the-ground surgeries that we built against the mopeds. I’ve got multiple warehouses throughout this city. I’ve full-time staff that I’ve employed, from field technicians to mechanics, along with a fleet of over 3,000 vehicles around the streets in New York. So it is a natural expansion of this platform to have the ability to add another product to it, to reach a new type of user, or to supplement the use case of our present moped users. All we had to do was fund some e-bikes, then you have another line of business.