Three months after the start of its pilot project in Berlin, the e-bike subscription service Dance has successfully completed a financing round of 15 million euros. The company of SoundCloud founders Eric Quidenus-Wahlforss and Alexander Ljung is now planning to launch the service in other European cities. An expansion into the USA could also follow.
The sole investor in the financing round is Holtzbrinck Ventures, as co-founder Eric Quidenus-Wahlforss said in an interview. The company’s announcement sounds somewhat different: Holtzbrinck Ventures has led the Series A financing round. This wording would leave room for more investors, but according to Eric Quidenus-Wahlforss, this is not the case.
Dance started operations in Berlin in July, but as a pilot project it was initially limited: At that time, the subscription of an e-bike was only possible by invitation. The idea behind the service is quite simple: Subscribe to an e-bike online and have it delivered directly to your front door within a day, without having to buy and maintain it. In Berlin, the subscription costs 59 euros per month, but the final price after the trial operation is not yet fixed.
“We’ve become inundated with positive responses from around the world since we announced our invite-only pilot program, and it’s become crystal clear just how much desire, demand and excitement there is for a service like DANCE across the world,” Quidenus-Wahlforss said.
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The special e-bikes are also an important part of the service. Even the most modern e-bikes today are still “based on designs, technologies and philosophies that are decades old”. To exploit the potential of networked communities, however, one needs sensors, data and algorithms. The pilot in Berlin still runs on conventional e-bikes, but from early 2021 Dance wants to use its own model to control costs and durability. However, it remains to be seen how much the final model, which may be produced by a Taiwanese manufacturer, will differ from the design Dance published on its website this summer. There you can see a rather futuristic-looking e-bike with three-spoke rims and a low-maintenance belt instead of the chain.
“Unfortunately, the majority of e-bikes on the market today have some combination of poor design, high upfront costs and cumbersome maintenance,” says Rainer Maerkle, General Partner at HV Holtzbrinck Ventures. “We analyzed the overall mobility market, evaluated all
means of transport, and crunched the numbers on all types of business models for a few years before we found what we were looking for. DANCE is by the far the most viable future of biking, bridging the gap between e-bike ownership and more joyful accessibility to go places”.
The Berlin company has not indicated which cities they plan to expand to.
Dance is not alone in the market for e-bike subscriptions: one of the market leaders is Swapfiets, but the Dutch company also offer conventional bicycles on subscription. With the ADAC subscription for e-bikes and the provider E-Bike-Abo, the two-wheelers must be rented for at least three months.
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