Shared Mobility

The Complete Guide to Launch Your Shared Mobility Service

The most comprehensive guide to launch your shared micromobility business and get fully operational in 12 weeks.

Danilo Cataneo
17 Aug

We get it, running a shared micromobility business has a ton of moving parts, especially pre-launch. But we can help as we did multiple times with our partners all around the world! We’ve compiled our ten years of industry expertise and distilled it into a complete guide. We’ll talk you through the chronological steps leading up to launching your own e-bike sharing or e-moped sharing service or your free-floating business in Mobility-as-a-Service (Maas) fashion.

What we’ll cover :

3 months to launch - Get clear with business model, positioning and partners
  • Defining your business model
  • Understanding your city’s legal requirements
  • Choosing the right vehicle and parking model for your fleet
  • Establishing your pricing models and levers
2 months to launch - Build your team and process for optimal operations and profitability
  • Comparing and contrasting operation areas
  • Building the right team to ensure smooth operations
  • Getting strategic about in-field operations
  • Outfitting your maintenance facilities and service vehicles
1 month to launch - Soft launch and operations optimizations
  • Testing your fleet vehicles and team training
  • Branding and deploying your fleet
  • Monitoring processes and collecting early data

While it’s true outsourcing your software to a strategic partner like ElectricFeel can help you get fully operational in under three weeks, we like to recommend you aim for 12 weeks. This is the optimal time for fine-tuning your plan and ensuring your team, and vehicles, are ready for success. Below, we offer, both, guidance on strategic direction and tactical tips on everything from forecasting to operations. So, what are you waiting for? The clock’s ticking…

Launch Checklist New Shared Mobility Service
Launch Checklist

3 months to launch: Get clear on your business model, positioning, and, especially, your partners 

While this is a self-explanatory first step for any entrepreneur, there are 3 industry-specific directions we’d like to shed light on to help you save time. When defining your company’s mission, and what you hope to accomplish with your shared mobility service, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do we aim to extend an existing transportation network to a door-to-door solution?
  • Is the goal to solve a transport problem by reaching a wider market?
  • Will we gain market share and become the last-mile solution in a specific area?

This will not only help you define your proverbial “why”, but add clarity as you move through the strategy and planning phase. You can make better decisions, and rally your team around a unified vision, when you know what problem you’re solving and for whom. To explore which of the above directions is most relevant for your city, consider the competition:

  • Is there a lack of accessible or sustainable mobility solutions? 
  • Are city riders unhappy with their options?
  • Are there affordable alternatives? 
  • Do they cover all their needs? 

Establish your custom segment and let it inform how you execute each of the following steps.  Differentiate yourself from the other mobility as a service companies.

Understand your home city’s legalities and build a relationship with city representatives

During the planning phase, it is important to get informed about the regulations that are in place and what impact it will have on your business strategy and operations. Because of the large influx of actors in recent years, many cities are creating more barriers to entry. These can often be unclear and fast-changing.

One of the most contested topics right now is where shared mobility vehicles should be parked when they’re not in use. As you explore which direction you want to take, consider:

  • Current city infrastructure already supports e-mopeds in designated parking areas
  • E-bikes have higher flexibility as long as they don’t block sidewalks or right-of-ways
  • Kick scooters requirements can be unclear and rider negligence can lead to legal repercussions

This is why building a strong relationship with the city is critical to your success. While, at the very least, you should understand the legal requirements, we’d encourage you to consider partnering with your city for data-sharing, transparency around space usage, and how to enforce safety measures.

Decide on your fleet vehicle(s) and how you want your riders to park them

The vehicles you choose should be determined by the business strategy you’ve defined. Is your target rider a commuter who lives on the outskirts of town and travels the same route each day? Or is it an urbanite who goes short distances, multiple times a day? These travel patterns impact which fleet vehicle is best for you and your shared micromobility service. Consider some of the pros and cons of each vehicle in the context of a shared mobility service, e-moped vs e-bikes:

  • Pros - multiple riders, higher speed and distance, can charge more per minute
  • Cons - requires a driver’s license, more restricted for parking, more expensive
  • Pros - less expensive, more flexible parking options, well-built for cities, promotes public health
  • Cons - provide less storage area, less brand visibility, shorter lifespan than e-mopeds

Now that you have an idea of their strengths, what is the vehicle criteria you want to consider?

  • Brand is a big driver of organic growth. Consider the look and feel of the vehicle.
  • Will the battery system work well for your operating team? (We’ll come back to this later.)
  • What is the durability of the vehicle and its batteries?
  • Consider starting costs. E-mopeds start around 2500 euros and e-bikes at 1000 euros.
  • What is the estimated range of the vehicle before it needs to be recharged?

Tactical tip: While e-mopeds tend to compete with trips between 4km and 6km, e-bikes are perfect for rides between 1.5km and 3km, and kick scooters for up to 1.5km. Consider that against their battery lifetimes: e-mopeds should be able to travel at least 50km on a single battery and some e-bike models can get up to 100km.

So you’ve established who your rider is and which vehicle would best suit their needs. So which parking method makes the most sense? There are 2 main models to fleet management: free-floating or hubs. While your city may already have regulations in place that you’ll need to abide by, there are other factors at play here. Both models have their own benefits. Which factors would best suit your custom segment?

Free floating: 
  • Improves rider convenience
  • Often leads to better availability
  • Fastest way to launch since you don’t need to build infrastructure
  • Optimize and simplify operations
  • Supports commuters’ defined routes
  • Minimizes your legal risk with the city
  • Lowers operating costs
Combining free-floating with hubs
  • It's also possible for you to create a hybrid approach and combine the two models and combine free-floating parking with hubs
  • We recommend taking this combiner approach when possible by starting with free-floating and then introduce hubs later.

Last but not least, don’t forget to factor in the mandatory accessories: batteries, IoT, and top cases and helmets.

Price the current landscape and define your competitive pricing model

We understand there’s pressure to get your pricing right given its impact on, both, your profitability and rider experience. Here are some specific suggestions on how you can tackle your shared mobility pricing.

First, get an understanding of the current landscape by pricing out existing mobility options. A recommended sweet spot is pricing lower than what customers would pay for taxi or ride-sharing, but higher than what they would pay for public transportation. Then, you can simulate some frequent routes and compare how much it would cost for your targeted customers. 

Don’t forget to take into account your vehicle size and how many passengers it can transport. This can help you decide which pricing strategy to go with:

  • Pay per minute pricing is a pretty standard model, but you can leverage things like an 'ignition fee', or lower price per minute when the vehicle is parked, to experiment with revenue and customer experience.
  • Time interval pricing is a more dynamic model in which pricing varies following a certain logic. For example, the first 30 min would cost X euro and the next 30 min cost Y.

After a successful launch, you can start to understand common usage patterns and begin to introduce tools like subscriptions, promotions, and other offers to increase rider engagement and boost your revenue.

Nail down your infrastructure like software provider and get setup underway

When you embark on creating a shared mobility solution, one of the most critical decisions you need to make is how you will set up your Operating System (OS). A good OS can define the success or failure of your service. So which is best: an in-house team or a partner solution? 

The 2 main factors you’ll want to consider are time to launch and cost. But how do these options compare?

In-house teams:
  • Take anywhere from 6-12 months for a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
  • Cost about 10x more than an equivalent SaaS solution

The main reasons people go this route is for the ability to customize every single aspect of the system and for the opportunity to build additional services in future. 

Shared mobility SaaS platform:
  • Get up and running within 3-8 weeks
  • Drastically reduced costs
  • Outsource maintenance and innovation

The main deterrent for outsourcing used to be the need for multiple tools, however, this is no longer the case with the emergence of several all-in-one providers in recent years.

If you choose to go with a software partner for your shared micromobility business, here are the criteria we suggest you review in detail:

  • Overall operational cost
  • Speed and ease of implementation
  • User experience of the rider app
  • Operational excellence
  • Integration capabilities
  • Revenue optimization

Tactical tip: While software is the linchpin for the efficiency of your operation and a critical part of your customer experience, surrounding yourself with knowledgeable partners ensures you’re making the right strategic moves—the first time. Some all-in-one solutions, like ElectricFeel, can use their industry expertise and network to steer you toward the best hardware and vehicle suppliers too.

2 months to launch: Build your teams and processes for optimal operations and maximum profit

Compare geographic opportunities and commit to your operation areas

Once you’ve identified your business focus, it’s time to determine how best to serve those needs geographically. Will you choose to serve the metropolitan center or include the outskirts too? Centralizing your e-bike and e-moped sharing service in the city center typically results in higher fleet utilization because of the population density—key to amortizing assets and building a healthy business case. 

But there are plenty of reasons for expanding your service to periphery zones, like:

  • Typically there is little to no competition in these areas
  • Supplementing public transport and solving the last-mile problem
  • Promoting cycling over longer distances for public health
  • Stimulating economic strength by giving support to businesses in the region

As you compare and contrast your options, don’t forget to consider the vehicle availability for your riders, how you can improve their user experience, and the opportunity to boost recurring usage for your bottom line.

Build the right team to ensure smooth daily operations—your customer experience depends on it

A well-managed operation will be a core pillar of your business success. And that operation should comprise 3 main parts: in-field operations, facility operations, and strategic operations. Each of these will require a well-trained and well-structured team. So what are their main functions and size?

In-field operations: 

Field operators spend time in the field, swapping batteries, performing preventative maintenance, bringing vehicles and batteries into the warehouse for repairs and charging.

  • You'll need roughly 3 field operators for a fleet of 150 vehicles at the launch your free floating business
Facility operations:

This team covers all fleet operations activities that happen within your facilities including two core activities: battery charging and fleet repair and maintenance. 

  • We recommend structuring the team to include a Lead Mechanic that oversees, not only, operations, but also the rest of the team 
  • As a rule of thumb, you’ll need 1 mechanic for the first 150 vehicles in operation
Strategic operations:

The strategic operations of your business will identify levers that will support your long term growth and profitability across day-to-day, medium term, and long term operations.

We share more insights on how to accelerate revenue and profitability of shared micromobility business in our guide.

Get strategic about your in-field operations to maximize efficiency 

Your in-field operations team, if empowered, will increase the availability, quality, and efficiency of your fleet, while improving the experience for riders. Running a reliable system depends on their day-to-day duties including:

  • Swapping vehicle batteries for charged ones
  • Transporting vehicles that need maintenance to the workshop facilities
  • Disinfecting the high touch surfaces of the vehicle and its accessories

While these are the mandatory responsibilities of an in-field operator, we’ve found that building out sustainable and efficient processes will impact your profitability, drastically. 

Tactical tip: We recommend you go a step further and train your field team to execute light maintenance during their battery swapping shifts, like checking brakes, tires, top case, lights, and helmets. This extends the life of your vehicles (and thus your investments), mitigates the burden on your maintenance team, and improves availability for your riders.

Build out your maintenance facilities and order/outfit your service vehicles

In a perfect world, things wouldn’t break. They would work with little involvement. While ideal, that’s not reality. It’s vital you have a maintenance facility and fleet of service vehicles up and running before there’s a problem. Their main goal? To maximize productivity while keeping incidents to a minimum. But this requires a well-designed and equipped space, defined workflows, and a skilled team.

What criteria should you plan for in building out your maintenance facility?

  • A custom electric infrastructure that stores your chargers
  • Workshop floors should be strong enough to park all fleet service vehicles
  • Necessary equipment for flat tires, brake systems, and minor body work

Tactical tip: Ahead of entering a market, you can forecast the number of service vehicles you’ll need. For example, we can use industry averages to formulate the following scenario for an example city: Average ride distance of the e-moped ride (example: 5 kilometers), multiplied by average number of rides per e-moped per day (example: 6), divided by the range of the e-moped based on its battery capacity (example: 80 km). With these assumptions, the operator can expect around 75 daily battery swaps for a fleet of 200 e-mopeds.

1 month to launch: Soft launch and working out the kinks of the operation

Road test your fleet vehicles—and your operations teams’ training

Once you’ve received your inventory of fleet vehicles to your maintenance facility, first checks should be underway. Have the in-field and facility team do dry runs to practice your processes and triage opportunities for better efficiency. Here are some questions to ask yourselves:

  • Is the necessary equipment in place? 
  • Is there any additional inventory that needs to be ordered before launch? 
  • What part of the process always seems to slow in our practice service runs? 
  • Are there any friction points we didn’t anticipate?

Maybe your team is highly specialized in one area, but can use some additional support in another. Identify these areas before you begin to scale your service.

Brand and deploy your fleet vehicles during soft launch for early marketing

Part of why “practicing in public” can be such a valuable tool at this stage is because of the pre-launch promotion your branded vehicles creates. You can stir up a buzz just with the presence of your fleet and service vehicles on the city streets. Don’t miss out on the free PR by practicing incognito.

Monitor customer support and fleet management processes to start collecting data and learnings

Your last month leading up to launch is really a continuation—and solidification—of all the decisions and processes you’ve already put into place. This is your opportunity to soft launch and “kick the tires,” as they say. Ideally, you should already be moving from theory and planning to action. Here, you can start to collect early data, and learnings, that your team can triage and begin to implement fixes in time for your hard launch. This is your opportunity to see what your operation actually looks like in practice—make the most of it!

Tactical tip: This is also where a strong software partner can make all the difference. In-built optimization features in your OS can help flag operational inefficiencies or leverage innovative AI to suggest points of improvement.

For example, if you have an operational area that is being underutilized. Your software should signal this discrepancy in your fleet performance. This allows you to react with a rider communications campaign or pricing incentive to improve rider engagement.

Have you found this launch summary useful? Want an even deeper look at the criteria you should be using in your decision-making? Everything from defining your areas of operation to choosing your software and the specifics of setting up your service facility are covered in the in-depth version of this guide you can download here; it even includes your own launch checklist! 

Or get in touch today for a free consultation to discuss where you need support. 

Danilo Cataneo
Head of Partner Operations @ ElectricFeel
Helping our partners achieve operational excellence