Movatic Allows Hardware Makers to Tap into Shared Mobility Market
When Ansgar Strother co-founded A2B Bikeshare in 2012, he was on a mission to make bike-sharing more affordable and accessible.
The company’s approach involved a kiosk-free “smart bike, dumb rack” model that put the technology of a rental kiosk onto the bike itself through a touchscreen interface mounted on the handlebars, allowing customers to pay for a rental, lock the bike, and obtain turn-by-turn directions.
After striking a number of licensing deals, A2B sold its technology to Zagster last year, and now Strother is back with a new mobility company called Movatic. While A2B focused on the hardware side of bike-sharing, Movatic’s business-to-business software platform allows hardware makers to get into the shared mobility market, Strother says.
“We work with a ton of different hardware providers, but we do software only,” he explains. “We partner with manufacturers to integrate their hardware [such as bikes, locks, and other gear] into the Movatic platform. That allows them to take their unique hardware, leverage our software, and move into new markets.” Strother says Movatic provides its software to hardware manufacturers, and they in turn sell their hardware plus Movatic’s software to the operators that are using their products, such as a municipality or a corporate campus.
On the consumer side, bike-share users can find, reserve, and pay for rentals after entering their credit card information in the Movatic app. The company also offers bike-share operators a dashboard where they can manage their system, and the platform can support both public and private efforts.
“We’re growing rapidly,” Strother says. “We’re working with 10 manufacturers and have 100 different systems on the platform already. Short-term, we’re focused on bike-sharing, but in the future, we want to make any kind of mobility service more accessible. Eventually, people will look at their phones to find transportation, but one mode will never be the right answer for every trip. We’re an open platform, so we can bring any kind of hardware in.”
Movatic is currently raising money through Netcapital, an equity crowdfunding site that lets even unaccredited investors contribute as little as $100, Strother says. Movatic is hoping to raise $107,000 by April 23, but he says that deadline will likely be extended. After it completes the crowdfunding campaign, the four-person company will apply to accelerator programs and seek up to $1 million in venture capital to accelerate growth, he says.
Strother describes the Ann Arbor, MI-based company’s desire to be an all-encompassing mobility platform as “a big, hairy, audacious goal,” but one the industry is already moving toward.
“Long term, all these platforms are not going to be sustainable,” he says. “Eventually, we’ll see companies consolidate, merge, or go out of business. But right now, we have more work than we can handle.”