Wunder Mobility built its business selling software to shared scooter, e-bike and even short-term car rental startups. Now, it’s banking on a new — and once secret — lending division to bring in more revenue that’ll give micromobility operators another option to access capital without having to pitch venture capitalists and other investors.
The company announced the official launch of Wunder Capital, a subsidiary that provides micromobility operators with fleet financing solutions. Wunder Capital, which has been operating in stealth mode for two years, has already provided financing to more than 25 businesses, according to the company.
As shared micromobility becomes the norm, the industry has the chance to scale dramatically, Gunnar Froh, Wunder Mobility’s founder and CEO, said in a recent interview. He believes traditional VC-backed funding rounds are too slow to keep up with the level of growth required to keep up with increasing demand.
“Now you can basically launch in a few weeks on our software platform and also get vehicles through us that are optimized for the sharing case, and then pay for them entirely through revenue share,” Froh told TechCrunch.
Wunder Capital aims to become a one-stop shop for shared operators looking for operational software, high-quality vehicles and the money to purchase them. Froh estimates that such a package deal would cost an operator about 40% of monthly revenue.
The founder originally saw the potential to diversify Wunder’s portfolio when he noticed how much influence his sales team had on operators’ vehicle purchasing decisions. After his team would set up new operators with an app and software, operators would inevitably ask for vehicle manufacturer recommendations.
Wunder Mobility said Tuesday it is also partnering with Yadea, a dominant manufacturer of light-duty electric vehicles in China, to co-develop an e-moped that’s been refitted for shared use. The company also intends to co-develop and finance e-bikes and kick scooters this year, but did not specify which manufacturers it would work with.
“We put reseller agreements in place, so we would always recommend this Yadea moped and then get a margin on it,” said Froh. “Then we’d talk to Yadea and give them modifications to make the mopeds sharing-ready, and then we’d have an opportunity to talk to the operators about how they’re going to finance this purchase, what limitations are you facing, and so on.”
Wunder Capital most recently added German electric moped sharing company emmy as a financing customer. Wunder Capital will finance 1,500 refitted Yadea G5L e-mopeds for emmy’s locations in Munich, Hamburg and Berlin. In contrast to Yadea’s consumer models, these mopeds will have a sturdier base, more intuitive controls, doubled range and improved battery management systems.
“Some companies go through venture capital, but it’s very costly in terms of return expectations and the control they want to have, and it’s holding people back from expanding their fleets,” Froh said. “We refinance through banks that would not usually look at a single operator and feel comfortable about the resale of these vehicles. We combine several operators into one portfolio and then we have access to a liquid secondary market.”
In order to ascertain risk and inform loan decisions, Wunder Capital uses APIs to collect anonymized trip data from operators that compares operational efficiency between companies. This data collection also allows the division to flag if an operator isn’t doing well and is at risk of coming up short on payments, in which case Wunder Capital can proactively reach out about restructuring loans.
“If a default happens, we can take vehicles from one operator and send them to another one somewhere else in the world,” said Froh. “So with this model, we can refinance relatively cheaply.”