Grishin Robotics, an international venture fund with Russian roots, is investing massively in bikesharing platforms. Over the past four months the fund has completed no less than three deals in this segment:
- In May, it led an $8 million Series A funding round for Spin, a pioneer in this field in the US market. Exponent, CRCM, as well as Quora co-founder Charlie Cheever and Dropbox investor Matt Brezina also took part in the round. The startup aims to “build one of the largest dockless bikeshare fleets in the world.”
- In July, Grishin Robotics teamed up with Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneur Fund, a non-profit initiative by the Chinese e-commerce giant, to inject $9 million in Gobee.bike. This Hong-Kong startup aims to “address short commute needs and reduce congestion while integrating fitness and leisure into the busy urban lifestyle.”
- Last month, the fund took part in oBike’s $45 million Series B round, which also involved an unnamed global transportation platform and several family offices in Southeast Asia. The startup, which started in Singapore in January this year, already operates in 12 Asian and European countries.
“The emergence of bikesharing could mark the biggest evolution in urban mobility since the development of personal cars,” Grishin Robotics Principal Valery Komissarova told East-West Digital News.
Station-based bike sharing systems have been around for some time. According to various estimates cited by Komissarova, about 1,000 of such programs already exist around the globe.
“But the stationless bike-sharing is a completely different paradigm,” the venture capitalist believes.
Smart from concept to reality
“Just pause to think about it: smart bikes are connected to the cloud 24/7 and beyond obvious health benefits for riders and positive impact on air quality and traffic congestion for the cities, you actually end up having millions of Internet-connected objects continuously moving throughout every corner of the city. How many sensors you can potentially install into these bikes and how much data can be collected both by businesses and municipalities? This is a first real big step in making the smart city concept a reality.”
See also: Can IoT make bike rides safer?
The success of the first big-scale stationless bike-sharing systems in China demonstrates that this new paradigm is “indeed a game changer,” claims Komissarova.
Launched in 2012 by Mail.Ru Group’s CEO Dmitry Grishin, Grishin Robotics initially focused exclusively on robotics, then started showing interest in such areas as collaborative and material handling robots, AI and data analytics, industrial IoT and other hardware or software innovation.
Last year Grishin announced a new $100 million fund to invest in the USA and Europe.
This past spring the fund invested in Wonder, a somehow enigmatic Californian startup which is developing an “all-in-one and one-for-all-gamers” product with virtual reality features. The deal involved a variety of other investors, including Colombian singer Shakira and football stars Gérard Piqué and Neymar.