Swiss startup BOND Mobility are on a mission: they want commuters to ditch their cars and opt for an e-bike. BOND’s free-floating bikes can accelerate up to 45 km/h offering users a truly viable and practical alternative. With Helsinki’s commitment to smart mobility and MaaS, and Helsinki Business Hub’s market insight, contacts and industry know-how on their side, BOND have every possibility to succeed.
Summer of 2019 was a game changer for shared and smart mobility services in Helsinki. In addition to the city’s popular city bike -service, several e-scooter brands hit the streets attracting plenty of users to try out shared e-vehicles for the first time. BOND debuted their e-bikes during holiday season, at the end of July. This turned out to be perfect timing; the e-scooter scene had attracted people to new kinds of smart and shared transportation solutions while lowering the threshold to try out new modes of transport.
BOND’s e-bikes are a completely new kind of vehicle in the shared mobility market. These speed pedal-electric bikes, or s-pedelecs, function as regular bikes, but the pedalling is assisted by an electric motor up to 45km/h (instead of the regular 25 km/h). Due to their high performance, BOND’s premium bikes are, for the most part, categorised as mopeds. This means that each e-bike is officially registered as a moped and has traffic insurance. They must abide to moped traffic rules, although the provided biking helmet is sufficient enough.
Smart city + smart landing services = smart move
Originating from Switzerland, BOND’s predecessor Smide was the first high-performance e-bike service in the world. After a successful A-round of financing through Denso and Ininvest, the startup began looking at overseas opportunities. Helsinki was BOND’s first location abroad.
“There were many reasons why we chose Helsinki. First of all, the service originates from Zürich, where we have been operating for three years now. Zürich is roughly the same size as Helsinki and has a similar biking culture. Once we began looking at Helsinki, we realised how committed the city was to developing smart mobility solutions. It has a green strategy and it was already being implemented. As the popularity of city bikes has shown, both the city and its people have a great attitude towards shared mobility.” Country Director of BOND Mobility Finland Panu Kuhlberg explains.
Working with people who understand what you represent and what you are trying to create, makes doing business so much easier and quicker.
Panu Kuhlberg, Country Director, BOND Mobility Finland
In addition to the city, Helsinki Business Hub’s services, contacts, knowhow and experts are catered to serve innovative businesses such as BOND. According to Kuhlberg, understanding e-transport, shared mobility services and the future of transportation makes a huge difference when it comes to finding locations and partners to work with.
“Working with people who understand what you represent and what you are trying to create, makes doing business so much easier and quicker. We didn’t need to convince anyone of what we are trying to achieve. Helsinki and Helsinki Business Hub were already on board. They weren’t reacting to someone disrupting the market, they were proactive and welcoming. Plus, they had everything we needed to land, grow and succeed here. HBH helped us establish the Finnish subsidiary, and provided us with valuable legal information, knowledge about the business ecosystem, business insight, meetings with the right people and partner contacts. They really had a big role in landing us here.”
Changing how we commute with e-bikes
While e-scooters are especially popular during evenings and weekends, BOND’s peak hours are during morning and afternoon commute.
“Our e-bikes are a really convenient alternative to cars – I know, because I use them every day myself. First of all, during rush hour, e-biking is often quicker than a car. Our fleet is free floating, so you can bike all the way to work and literally leave the e-bike at the door. E-bikes also offer some activity, but because they are motor assisted, you don’t end up arriving to work needing a shower. It’s the best of both worlds,” Kuhlberg declares.
In an attempt to gain commuters, BOND has reached out to companies, offering businesses company e-bikes, that their staff can use to journey between their home and the office. In Switzerland, companies are eager to offer their personnel emission-free commute options. For instance, Google, ETH, and AMAG have partnered with BOND to provide their employees an efficient, safe and healthy way to travel and commute. This is achieved, for example, by private fleets or charging stations.
Winter first, new destinations second
Currently, BOND’s Helsinki office staffs four full-time employees including a customer service person and an operational manager, who is charge of maintenance. As opposed to other shared mobility services, BOND doesn’t collect or move their fleet. E-bike maintenance and battery change takes place on the streets, which cuts down on logistics. Presently, the fleet consists of about 100 e-bikes, but as demand grows, so does BOND’s fleet and staff. The company estimates that by the end of 2020, their staff will have grown to 10.
As temperatures drop, BOND is launching its winter campaign. Fitting brand new winter tyres is all it takes for premium e-bikes to run through the winter too. Although BOND plans to continue as a free-floating service, the company is looking into setting up charging stations with new partners in interesting public spots like shopping centers. BOND is already operating in 3 cities in Switzerland as well as in Helsinki and future plans naturally include taking on new locations – something that Helsinki Business Hub will be happy to help make a reality.