You’ve heard of e-bike and e-scooter rental startups spreading across cities. But today three veterans of the startup world will launch what appears to be a brand new take on the “e-revolution” sweeping cities in the wake of the global pandemic: subscription e-bikes, or, if you will, “EaaS” or “E-bikes-as-a-Service.” The previous founders of SoundCloud and Jimdo will today launch Dance, a new subscription e-bike service, backed by a stellar lineup of European investors.
The invite-only program kicks-off first in Berlin, with an all-inclusive service package of a €59-a-month “introductory price” and its own design of e-bike. The founders’ goal is to emphasize the community aspects of the rental service, just as they did with SoundCloud.
Dance is co-founded by SoundCloud founders Eric Quidenus-Wahlforss and Alexander Ljung, together with the co-founder of Jimdo, Christian Springub. While Quidenus-Wahlforss and Ljung are best known for co-founding SoundCloud more than 10 years ago as CTO and CEO, respectively, Quidenus-Wahlforss is taking the CEO role this time, while Ljung will be chairman. Ljung remains chairman of SoundCloud in the meantime.
The main institutional backer is Berlin-based VC BlueYard Capital, together with entrepreneurs and investors such as Ilkka Paananen (founder & CEO Supercell), Jeannette zu Fürstenberg (La Famiglia), Kevin P. Ryan (founder & CEO, AlleyCorp), Neil Parikh (founder & CSO Casper), Bjarke Ingels (founder & CEO BIG Architects) and several others.
Here’s how it will work: Users will download an app and register for the service. A fully assembled e-bike is delivered to a subscriber within 24 hours. If the bike needs maintenance or gets stolen, the user alerts Dance via the app and the bike is replaced “immediately.” That’s more or less it.
A specially designed Dance e-bike will eventually be launched, similar to this rendering:
Quidenus-Wahlforss, co-founder and CEO of Dance said: “Dance means having a state-of-the-art e-bike always and only available to you, but without the hassle of buying and owning it… Dance is the perfect solution for those who are looking for a healthy, environmentally friendly, time-saving and joyful form of mobility.”
“We are convinced that Dance provides the missing piece of the puzzle at the right time to accelerate a broad and lasting movement from individual car ownership to daily use of e-bikes,” he added.
The startup notes that 45% of Germans are interested in owning an e-bike, while the European market is projected to double by 2025, according to some estimates.
This could be a disruptive moment in the e-bike space. E-bikes are generally considered the fastest and most efficient means of individual urban transport on routes up to 10 kilometres, but the pandemic has put new emphasis on their utility.
But with an average purchasing price of €2,300, e-bikes can be expensive and have a higher probability of being stolen, leaving many consumers out of the market.
At the same time, more than 930 kilometres of new cycling infrastructure have been implemented in Europe since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has shifted populations away from “risky” public transport.
Ljung commented: “You save time and you save the environment. You exercise, but you don’t sweat. And besides that, riding an e-bike is simply joyful. Music was one of the first industries to experience the shift from ownership to subscription. At SoundCloud we helped usher in this transformation… Now we want to transfer this experience to the mobility space and start a movement that will ultimately make our cities more livable.”
Springub added: “We have carefully analyzed the mobility market in the past years and we are deeply concerned that despite the new options out there and the clear necessities set by climate protection, car ownership continues to be high, along with all its negative implications such as congestion and pollution.”