In this week’s founder story we’re introducing you to Sharelock, the first network of connected and shared padlocks for bicycles in the world.
As we all know, soft mobility has boomed in recent years with bicycles, electric scooters and mopeds now an integral part of city landscapes across Europe.
As the recent and astonishing 60% increase of bicycle use in France shows, the global pandemic has had a catalysing effect on soft mobility as ensuing lockdowns have forced us to hit pause on our busy daily routines and reflect on our lifestyles.
Finding a healthier and more sustainable approach to urban mobility has started to take on a new degree of urgency as we become increasingly aware of the impact of thermal transport on our health and environment.
Local authorities are acting on the need for cleaner and greener urban environments by openly encouraging the use of public transport and soft mobility solutions and introducing dissuasive regulation on thermal transport. There are now far fewer parking spaces in French cities and since September of this year, 30km/hour speed limits have been introduced in inner Paris and Lyon.
Soft mobility is therefore now more than ever a movement ( 😉 ) and bicycles are at the very heart of it. Mobility experts and founders of Sharelock Alexandre Molla (ex Uber) and Nicolas Louvet (renowned advisor, researcher & lecturer on mobility) have caught onto the trend and instead of inviting people to sign up for rented bikes have decided to make it easier for people to use their own!
So what inspired them? Nicolas Louvet tells us:
“Bicycles are people’s favourite form of soft mobility and being able to use your own bike is better and cheaper than renting one. However, whilst researching urban mobility we found that over 95% of people questioned are leaving their bikes in the shed, firstly because of a lack of suitable parking places in town centres and secondly, a fear of getting them stolen- in fact as many as 500 000 bicycles in France are stolen each year, that’s one a minute! We decided to come up with a solution”.
Sharelock is a connected and shared padlock that fixes easily to those anti-car parking posts you often see dotted around town centres. Bike users who can find and reserve a free padlock with the help of an App, will also receive a notification if their bike gets tampered with. And the best part? They receive a lump sum if it gets stolen. For local authorities, Sharelock will provide unique new data on urban mobility in their cities, thus helping them to deploy relevant local mobility policies.
Sharelock is a high gain, low pain solution that is catching on fast. In the space of a few months, the company, launched in May 2020, has installed its shared locks in Rouen and Sceaux and is currently working with the city of St Ouen, on the outskirts of Paris, for an upcoming deployment. Discussions are ongoing with several other French cities.
Team Breega met with the two founders who were looking to raise their Seed round a few months back whilst the team were completing their pilot tests and setting up their industrial production processes. Breega Founding-Partner, François Paulus was impressed by the thoroughness of their research, their expertise, their ability to execute and deliver and the ingenuity of the Sharelock solution:
“Since the start of the pandemic, bicycle use in cities has increased significantly. Finding a place to park your bike safely, however, is still a challenge. SHARELOCK’s solution addresses this issue by offering cities a simple, convenient and completely free solution. Moreover, thanks to the mobility data collected via its application, SHARELOCK will allow cities to better understand and map the needs of their inhabitants. This is something very new.”
Needless to say, Breega wanted in 🙂
Nicolas Louvet and Alexandre Molla tell us that it was Breega’s Ops team that was the deciding factor when selecting a fund to finance their very first round.
“We met with a lot of VCs whilst looking for financing but what really persuaded us that Breega was the best partner for us was their team and all the free practical help and support they provide. Firstly, François is a really present board member and secondly, the Breega Ops team is literally like an extension of our own team, digging in with us and helping us to get things done quickly and smoothly. They are great people to work with”.
So what are the next steps for the young company ? Firstly, the startup is looking to hire new talents to build up its 15 person team, fine tune its platform and marketing and secondly, to continue signing up new cities looking to lower urban pollution and create a more agreeable and greener environment for their citizens. The team is also about to launch a highly innovative bicycle theft insurance, fully leveraging their sector expertise and the data and learnings gleaned from their shared lock solution.
Sharelock’s main aim? Install its shared locks throughout all of France’s cities before making their solution international. Team Breega is very excited to have been invited along for the ride and we’re looking forward to helping Sharelock make its dream a reality. With such an innovative, useful product and strong founding team, it should be all freewheeling from here. 🙂
Watch this space to find out how they get on.