1. Why did you found your startup, which problem do you address and how do you solve it?
We founded UrmO to make future urban transportation more sustainable, easier for people and also more fun. We think, the cities of the future will have much less individual-owned cars and a lot of other vehicles, such as scooters for individual use and more public transport instead.
We strongly believe in intermodal mobility and our goal is to connect different means of transport in the most efficient way possible.
2. What gave you the idea to found UrmO?
We always thought, that electric cars are the future (in some cases they really are!). We then experienced that being stuck in traffic is still not very fun, even if it is emission-free. Also, electric cars still can not cover most very short distances, for example to and from public transport. We then tried to build the best electric vehicle for short distances as our first product.
3. What is special about your business-model, what are you doing differently?
We have a completely new product for a comparably young market. Thanks to its small size when folded, it can be carried and also stowed everywhere. This enables new use cases, both shared and owned: If the product is shared, sharing providers can get rid of the expensive recharging, needed for regular scooters. With our product, they can just use small charging station in stores or rental cars to recharge the devices.
4. Which were the biggest challenges you needed to overcome in the beginning?
Building a great team. Finding people to join your startup is easy. Finding great people with passion, knowledge and a good personal fit is a tough challenge, that should not be underestimated. Especially, when it comes to finding co-founders, as they are probably the most valuable asset in your startup.
5. What was the most valuable advice somebody gave to you during your foundation phase?
6. What was your greatest success so far?
Our biggest success so far was our kickstarter campaign in 2018. We raised around 200k USD with the campaign, which is a great result, considering the planned time until delivery and the high price (for crowdfunding) of the product.
7. What is your biggest need/your next challenge?
As with every new product, transitioning from the manufacturing of prototypes to a larger scale production is a big challenge, as new processes have to be defined, the supply chain needs to be managed and people need to be hired for the assembly. Instead of going to Asia, we are assembling the vehicle near our office in Munich, so that we can follow the process closely and can apply quick countermeasures should any problem arise. This ensures a smooth process and quality products.
8. What would you recommend other founders?
Try to build a first prototype as fast as possible. Even though this might seem hard and expensive in a hardware-startup, there are countless opportunities (Makerspaces, Fablabs, etc.) that can help you building a first prototype fast and inexpensive. A prototype makes it much easier talking to customers, investors, etc. successfully.
9. What went really wrong since you founded?
We got carried away in some of our future visions and once tried to attach wings to our UrmO. This did not go terribly well, so we are back to ground based transportation – for now 😉
10. Let´s say, you are the Governing Mayor of Munich for one day, what would you change?
We would definitely move our office to where the Munich building and traffic authorities are. The transition to sustainable urban mobility needs a change in how streets, bike lanes and sidewalks are designed. A close connection to the traffic authorities would help to speed these things up!