Matt Atlas

VC’s Flock To European E-Bike Startups

Venture capitalists are embracing e-bike startups as people look for alternatives to public transportation amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Tech investors are betting on young e-bike startups from cyclist-friendly cities such as Berlin, Tallinn, Amsterdam, or Brussels.

The market for e-bikes is massive. Deloitte estimates that more than 130 million e-bikes will be sold between 2020 and 2023.

Cowboy, a Brussels-based e-bike startup, secured EUR 23 million from venture capital funds. The company’s e-bike costs 2290 euros and connects to a smartphone app that unlocks the bike and provides information on speed, battery status, or route.

Cowboy received the funding from Exor Seeds, a subsidiary of Exor, Ferrari’s controlling shareholder. Other investors are Index Ventures, which has supported companies such as Facebook, Robinhood, and Citymapper. Index partner Martin Mignot told CNBC that e-bikes are now more prevalent in some countries than regular bikes.

“As cities and city centers move away from cars, I expect more people to like e-bikes and realize how perfect they are because they can ride around the city without sweating,” Mignot said. According to him, the time is gone when e-bikes were massive and intended mainly for the elderly. “When I first tried Cowboy’s e-bike, it was like holding an iPhone for the first time,” he added.

Dance, a Berlin-based e-bike rental company, launched by SoundCloud founders, received 4.4 million euros from investors led by BlueYard. The company offers a 59 euros monthly subscription service that gives customers access to an e-bike within 24 hours of joining. Dance services the bike and replaces it in case of loss or theft.

BlueYard partner Ciarán O’Leary told CNBC that he supported Dance because there was an urgent need and a tremendous opportunity to transform the urban environment and move cities from cars to people.

In May, the London fund Balderton Capital invested 12.5 million euros in the Amsterdam e-bike dealer VanMoof, which at the time had a two-month waiting list for its products. Bikes sold at VanMoof stores in Amsterdam, Paris, Berlin, New York, Seattle, San Francisco, Taipei, and Tokyo are equipped with anti-theft technology. The bike’s position can be tracked in the company’s application, and if the bike disappears, the company’s “bike hunters” promise to find it and return it. The company has already sold over 120,000 of its e-bikes, which it manufactures in the Netherlands and Taiwan. The two latest models cost 1998 euros.

Last September, the Estonian based manufacturer of the Ampler Bikes e-bike crowdfunded 2.47 million euros from 1241 investors in 29 countries.