We at Balderton are excited to be backing VanMoof on their mission towards getting the next billion on bikes. Even before these challenging times, electric bikes were on a rapid growth trajectory. As people and companies around the world begin to think about safe commuting options going forward, we believe that the quality and experience of riding VanMoof's bikes, their strong community-driven brand and their innovative go to market will help VanMoof become a household name from Tokyo to Berlin.
Taco and Ties, the Founders of VanMoof, have a higher calling: to build the world’s best commuting vehicle, on two wheels or four. With their newest electric bikes the S3 and X3, they are pretty close. To get here they have reinvented an entire industry. Most bike manufacturers rely on commoditized parts, component assembly, distributors and retailers. A VanMoof rides differently because it was built as one integrated product with complete control over their supply chain. This allows them to consistently infuse their bikes with industry first technology that creates a joyful riding experience. Their control over their customer facing front end also allows them to help tackle barriers to everyday riding, with unique services like Peace of Mind that keep your VanMoof in great shape and out of the hands of bike thieves.
Our journey with VanMoof began more than a year ago when we met Taco at the company’s Amsterdam HQ. Over lunch we fell in love with the passion, focus and ambition of the team. We stayed in close contact in the intervening months and in the past few weeks, that focus and ambition crystallised into a successful launch of their newest model. When he let us know that they wanted to accelerate their growth this year, we jumped at the opportunity to work together.
The company boldly launched the S3 and X3 at a time when around the world supply chains are falling apart and people are uncertain about their futures. Despite this uncertainty, the company has seen unprecedented demand. Bicycles are dependable and are becoming an ever more important part of our commutes. Cities like New York, London, Milan and Berlin are building better bicycling infrastructure at unprecedented rates in order to become safer, greener, and cleaner.
Our conviction was deepened by tremendous market growth in electric bicycles, particularly in Europe and the United States. For example in Germany, an important market for VanMoof, the overall electric bike market grew 39% yoy in terms of units in 2019, from 1M to 1.4M, outpacing analyst estimates. While VanMoof market share in Germany is growing quickly, it still represents only low single digits. There’s no ceiling in sight.
VanMoof is much more than a company. It has created a diverse tribe around its brand filled with a world of people who ride bikes but resist the “cyclist” stereotype. There are models who name drop the brand in Vogue articles even while its subreddit boasts more than one thousand members.
Customers love VanMoof because Taco, Ties, and the entire team’s commitment to quality produces a category-leading product that is changing the world for the better. Tim Bunting, myself and the entire team at Balderton are thankful to be on the ride.
Earlier this year, my Partner Daniel and I found ourselves in the Docklands in East London at sunrise. We were there to meet Alan Chang and Charles Orr of Tesseract, who have just announced their ambitious $78M raise to help fix Europe’s broken energy market. Having both previously worked at Revolut, where Alan was most recently Chief Revenue Officer, they both have a keen sense of the importance of ambition, focus and tenacity in the face of very large, very regulated, and very complex markets.
But let’s rewind to that first dawn meeting. What became immediately apparent to Daniel and I as the sun came up was that Alan and Charles, like Nikolay, were deeply hungry entrepreneurs who had a knack for identifying big hairy global problems, untangling their complex causes, breaking those down into a list of concrete actions, motivating humans around them to join them in their purpose, and together knocking out these actions and building solutions, bird by bird.
That morning, we were discussing European energy markets, and the confounding problem that despite the availability of a record supply of renewable electricity in Europe and the UK, which was costing next to nothing in marginal input costs, electricity prices across the continent had soared due to the invasion of Ukraine and misplaced policies of marginal-cost pricing.
That these prices are generating windfall profits for power producers is not news to any of us. What most of us haven’t done in response is to start a hugely ambitious network whose goal it is to lower energy bills, finance further investments into green energy, and help households and small businesses realize the wide benefits of wind, solar and batteries.
We are excited to be welcoming Alan, Charles and the whole Tesseract team to Balderton.