Tembici, which says it owns 80% of the market share in Latin America’s micromobility space, now has $47 million more in capital to double down on its docked e-bike offering.
The Series B round was led by Valor Capital and Redpoint eventures. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), part of the World Bank Group, and Joá Investimentos also participated in the round. The new funding marks IFC’s entry into the micromobility market, a notable move that will allow Tembici to work more closely with city regulators as it expands its e-bike offering.
During the pandemic, in which global funding into tech startups has declined by 20%, the $47 million will allow Tembici to double down on the rollout of more electric bikes, and increase access to bikes in the major cities where the service is operative. The capital will also be used to further invest in R&D.
As Uber scraps thousands of JUMP bikes in San Francisco that sit unused during the pandemic, CEO Tomás Martins tells me that Tembici is seeing increased ridership in São Paulo and other Brazilian cities. He says 20 million rides were taken on Tembici bikes in the past year, with 2 million rides happening per month.
Tembici riders are split into two categories, says the CEO. As delivery demand increases during the pandemic shelter in place lockdown, more couriers are using Tembici’s bikes to circulate items and food. As Brazilians work from home, commuter rides are declining. But the people who are commuting around cities like São Paulo and Rio are choosing Tembici.
Tembici was co-founded by Tomás Martins and Mauricio Villar in 2010 at the University of São Paulo, and scored an early sponsorship from Brazil’s largest private bank, Itaú. Tembici uses a docking station (similar to Citi Bike in New York City) system for the return and removal of bikes. Tembici is operative in Latin America’s main urban capitals such as São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Recife and Porto Alegre in Brazil, as well as Buenos Aires in Argentina and Santiago in Chile.
“Bicycles will undoubtedly play an important role in the post-pandemic world because they’re being strongly recommended by public health agencies for safe, sustainable transportation for individuals. As more people change their habits, the new investment will help us meet the increasing demand,” says CEO Martins.
Tembici says it has learned tons from observing China’s pioneering micromobility efforts — but there are some key differences in the Latin America market. Asian mobility companies scaled the dockless solution, but Tembici thinks the docked business model will yield more success and win the favor of Latin American city regulators.
E-bike and scooter makers like JUMP and Mobike became acquisition targets for companies like Uber and WeChat that are building the “super app” (although there have since been some issues here, as Mobike was removed from WeChat’s payments system and JUMP pulled its bikes from a handful of cities in the U.S.). However those issues don’t seem to be happening in Latin America. While the region has seen consolidation in micromobility over the past few years with Yellow and Grin, micromobility companies have remained relatively independent compared to their foreign super-app owned counterparts.
Scott Sobel, managing partner at Valor, is joining Tembici’s board of directors, along with Redpoint managing partner Romero Rodrigues. Sobel says we can expect to see more government partnerships and eventually consolidation from micromobility companies in Latin America in the future.