Podcast: How do startups work and how do they navigate the mobility industry?

Episode 7 of podcast ‘Conversations in the Park’ (the second one sponsored by EIT Urban Mobility) puts all the emphasis on start-ups and how they navigate the complex mobility industry. We invited two start-up leaders to tell us about their experiences and the challenges they are facing. 

Mari-Ly Klaats is the COO of Auve Tech, maker of self-driving vehicles and autonomous transportation systems. Based in Estonia, they are working on a number of important projects throughout Europe. 

Our second guest is Vianova’s co-founder and CEO, Thibault Castagne. The data company aims to bridge the gap between cities and mobility operators to create smarter urban spaces. They operate internationally between France, USA, China, UK, Spain, Chile, Sweden to introduce intelligent mobility solutions. 

We also wanted to have a larger-scale view, so we invited our Business Creation Director Fredrik Hånell. In his work, he has supported and observed many start-ups in their journey from idea to success, which provided us with some very valuable insights. 

Here is what we learned from our conversation with them about the startup journey: 

The beginning and end outcomes are often very different

Starting at the beginning, we wanted to know how a start-up is created. Our speakers seemed to all agree that it is not a straightforward process. 

As is the case with many young companies, usually someone with an entrepreneurial mindset would come up with a revolutionary idea they believe can solve a big problem. They begin to work to develop the idea into a product that can be marketed and sold. Do research, prepare presentations, meet with possible investors and follow the process. 

Sometimes however, the idea ends up being unsuccessful. Which could be due to many reasons. But from that grows a different idea that ends up being more viable. And by going through the process of ‘failure’, the entrepreneurs have learned so much more about the industry and what actually makes a success. Having gone through that, they can now reiterate and build upon their initial product. 

In other cases, the idea finds the entrepreneur instead. They may just be exploring a certain solution/technology as part of academic research or their line of work. And then find out that what they are exploring can actually fill a gap in the market. Or change the market completely. That then encourages them to keep experimenting and turn the idea into a business. Similarly to the above example, they may go through several iterations until they reach a fleshed-out product. 

Cities cannot catch up with start-ups 

We live in a day and age when technological innovation is happening at a massive rate. And the mobility ecosystem is no exception; every day we make progress on autonomy, data management, electromobility. Start-ups, like Auve Tech and Vianova, are at the forefront of that, they are the ones constantly evolving and introducing new technologies. But in order to apply them and improve lives, they need the cities. 

And cities often are not fully caught up with all that change. Infrastructure is still built around the old ways of moving and living, which makes it difficult to incorporate new mobility solutions. There is also the issue of legislation. New technology may take a few weeks to get developed, whereas a new law takes years. In addition, to bring a product from prototype to widespread market use, startups often rely on funding from government bodies. Which again, takes time. Another hurdle may be that the people in a city are not ready for a certain innovation. A big percentage of the public still does not trust autonomous vehicles completely. 

Prevalently, what we see is that start-ups oftentimes have to educate and wait for cities to catch up to the rapid growth happening. And that slows down the progress they are capable of introducing. 

Our speakers expand on these hurdles in much more detail during the episode. Hear their personal experiences on episode 7 of the podcast ‘Conversations in the Park’ here: 

Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-startup-journey-in-mobility/id1546360284?i=1000537093158 

And everywhere else you find your podcasts.