Neuron Mobility raises US$18.5mil in funding from GSR Ventures and Square Peg Capital
By Digital News Asia December 10, 2019
- Existing investors SeedPlus and SEEDS Capital (by Enterprise Singapore) also participated
- Funds will accelerate Neuron’s Australian and NZ roadmap, foray into other APAC markets
NEURON Mobility, announced on Dec 9 that it has successfully raised US$18.5 million (RM76.9 million) in funding led by California-based, cross-border fund GSR Ventures and Australian venture capital firm, Square Peg. Existing investors Seedplus and SEEDS Capital (by Enterprise Singapore) also participated in the round.
The investment follows closely from its earlier US$3.8 million (RM15.79 million) seed round in December 2018. It has since been a year of tremendous growth for Neuron with more than one million rides served regionally.
In June, the startup ventured into the Australian market after winning the permit to operate 60% of the scooter fleet allocation in Brisbane City, the capital of Queensland. It has also secured an exclusive license to operate the shared e-scooter programme in Darwin City in the Northern Territory of Australia, as well as a trade license to operate in Auckland, New Zealand. Both are slated to launch early in 2020.
The fresh infusion of capital is intended to accelerate Neuron’s Australian and New Zealand roadmap, its foray into other Asia Pacific markets, and further development of its technology.
Pursuing sustainable growth
Square Peg believes that Neuron is uniquely positioned to expand in the region, especially in Australia and New Zealand, because of its city-friendly approach. Square Peg’s partner, Tushar Roy said, “The culture of collaboration with cities permeates through Neuron. Its entire DNA is built around working very closely with local leadership to bring new mobility solutions to citizens in a safe and sustainable way.”
Neuron insists that mobility startups should see cities and governments as partners, not as blockers to growth.
Neuron co-founder and chief executive officer Zachary Wang (pic), said, “The world is on an irreversible trend to adopt micromobility services into cities of all kinds and sizes in the coming years. But it is not a standalone solution to transportation gaps. Successful implementation of scooter-sharing programmes can only happen when there is a strong partnership between local governments and technology providers.”
The company employs a team of data scientists, urban planners, and engineers who translate raw data into actionable insights for both its operations and the city’s transport planning. This includes working on real-time data integration, asset location reports, incident management, and the co-creation of preferred riding zones with cities.
Technology innovation at the core of the company
Richard Lim, co-founder and managing director of GSR Ventures said, “The company’s technology-first approach to addressing local transport needs was refreshing and compelling. It presents the opportunity for them to become a global gamechanger, and we are excited to embark on the journey of revolutionising urban transport together.”
Neuron was founded in 2016 by Zachary Wang and Harry Yu, and was a technology-driven company from its inception almost by design.
Wang was a mechanical engineer by training, specialising in automotive technologies. Since his university days, Wang spent years building hydrogen-powered electric cars and bicycles, and won several awards across Europe and Asia. After graduating, he built his first company which is now a leading provider of solar energy in Singapore and Thailand.
Yu is a data scientist by training, specialising in machine learning and artificial intelligence. He holds a PhD in electrical and computer engineering. He spent years building predictive algorithms for industries such as banking, insurance, and transportation.
When the two came together in 2016, they realised that the existing mobility solutions like cars are not designed to work well in dense urban environments. There is a strong need for a revolution in urban transport, a system solution that couples hardware innovation with data optimisation.
Wang and Yu also realised early on that the hardware the company deploys will determine pertinent aspects of its business, from safety to operational efficiency. This is what inspired the company’s early bet to develop proprietary technology. Neuron’s third-generation hardware, the N3, was the first commercial-grade hardware built specifically for e-scooter sharing.
“It’s exciting to see the product iteration cycle becoming shorter in the micromobility space. We are committed to continue our effort in developing new technologies that makes this service a seamless integration with cities around APAC,” Yu.
Since the N3’s launch, the company has also launched a host of market-first technologies to enhance rider safety such as fall detection, a helmet incentive programme, and geofencing technology that can assign low-speed zones, no riding zones, and no parking zones in any given city.