Auto enthusiasts always have a dream of visiting Germany. The country which has gifted this world with some of the best Automobile brands. For the Auto freaks, this is the place to visit, as it is one of the few countries which offer certain section of highways with no official speed limit. If you get hold of car with some good horse power under the hood then even 300 kmph is a possible achievement. This indeed is almost equivalent to the speed of Formula One cars.
Germany is also known for being the leaders in technological advancements. German government supports Research and Development in a big way & funds are earmarked for providing grants.
The Mobility Solutions across the globe is going through a significant and fast transition. People are spoiled for choice with eBike, Hover-board, eScooter, Segway, etc. available easily and the list is getting refreshed at a brisk pace. The young generation (from toddlers to teenagers) are already using Scooters and Flickers. So all these latest designs are not something which are frowned and ridiculed but are getting discussed in length even inside the boardrooms.
When interesting people meet there are chances for Innovation. That is what happened in Munich, Germany when Felix and Jakob who were already working on this product met Sebastian.
Felix Ballendat, mechanical engineer, has already developed a battery pack for Tesla.
Jakob Karbaumer, also mechanical engineer, the youngest of the three, who has been developing the battery of the world’s first electric supercar, the Rimac Concept One.
Sebastian Guoy, has a background as an entrepreneur and already has the experience of running couple of Startups.
Felix, Jakob and Sebastian are currently running on a busy schedule and are planning to start the delivery of the first set of their product in the next 3-4 months. In the midst of this running around, I got Sebastian to give me an intro and a sneak peek in to the backstage activities happening at UrmO.
VJCV: Whose idea is behind this?
Sebastian: My co-founder Felix had the initial idea to build a very small and light weight urban electric vehicle. The main background was to develop an efficient (energy and space-saving) mode of transport to supplement existing means of transport in inner-city areas.
While sitting on the plane to Tesla in California, Felix Ballendat had the idea: a self-balancing electric scooter to ensure that rush-hour will not be stressful anymore. The idea for the UrmO was born.
VJCV: How long have you been working on this product?
Sebastian: It was in 2016, Felix and Jakob decided to work on this idea. Felix had done an initial sketch while on a flight from US to Germany. I joined them at the start of 2018. Since then all 3 of us have been working together on this and finally managed to get the product that you get to see now – The UrmO.
VJCV: Can you tell me about your previous entrepreneurial stint?
Sebastian: I had a startup fashion label which catered to business attires. It was a brick and mortar retail store. I had to move out as the store as the landlord decided to renovate the building. I exited from this venture and was looking for a suitable opportunity to use my business consultant expertise and startup experience.
VJCV: From Fashion world to Mobility Solutions – what was the thought process behind this ?
Sebastian: It is not about the field in which you work, it is about the state of the mind. The key is the ability to focus and help the business grow in the right direction.
VJCV: Why did you choose this brand name?
Sebastian: The brand name UrmO is short for “urban mobility”. Our vision is to enhance efficient urban mobility, which is why we have it in our brand as well.
VJCV: How has been the journey so far?
Sebastian: Development started back in 2016, so it has been a long journey full of challenges and success already.
We have developed the entire vehicle from scratch and built several prototypes by hand. Our first fully functional prototype was finalised and released in the beginning of 2018. We were fortunate to get the right mentoring from the University Researchers and Professors who helped us in avoiding problems and helped in continuing with the development of UrmO.
VJCV: What do you think is your USP? Are you a competitor to the traditional mobility solution – Cars ?
Sebastian: The biggest USP of UrmO is its suitability for everyday life. That means, it offers simple last mile transport without having a negative impact on your commute. We do not consider ourselves as a competitor to Cars. Instead we are happy to look at UrmO as an accessory that can be sold by the car manufacturers to their customers.
VJCV: Did you manage to get investments easily ?
Sebastian: For Hardware startups, it is not easy. Hardware is not interesting for VCs and scalability is comparatively low. So it did take some time to get the right investors on board.
VJCV: What are the near immediate plans?
Sebastian: We are working towards ramping up serial production and shipping the first vehicles to our initial customers and distribution partners. This will probably take another four months.
VJCV: When are you planning to expand -distribution / reach?
Sebastian: Once, we have shipped the first production batch to our customers, we will start expansion into other European markets. Expansion to the US and Asia will take a little bit of time.
VJCV: Are you happy with the progress of the brand till now?
Sebastian: Yes, I am very happy. We are very successful with introducing the UrmO into the market. We have won some very recognised prizes in Germany and in Europe and get a lot of inquiries from different areas.
VJCV: Describe your brand in one line?
Sebastian: “Enhancing urban life, every day”.
VJCV: Who else is supporting in this venture?
Sebastian: We are supported by Strascheg Center for Entrepreneurship at Munich University of Applied Sciences as well as by three investors.
UrmO indeed will play its part in revolutionizing the last mile connectivity.
The UrmO can be folded to handbag-size format within seconds, thanks to the patent-pending folding mechanism. Small, handy, light: These features clearly distinguish the UrmO from all other vehicles in its segment. Urmo is light weight and measures just 7 kilogram (13 lbs). The e-scooter can be perfectly integrated into everyday life and can be easily stowed e.g. under the desk in the office. UrmO can cover 20 kilometres (12 miles) with one charging. Within just 2 hours, the battery can be charged. Maximum speed is 18 km/h. By shifting weight, drivers intuitively need to steer the UrmO. All this for approximately 1600 Euros.
It is indeed interesting to see 14 inch tyre used in UrmO. I feel that it will give better stability. The tyre is airless , so no tension that they will run flat and you will get stuck. Sebastian says that anyone will get used to driving UrmO in less than 10 minutes. I also liked the way in which the founders themselves have modeled in the videos and explained the product in detail.
I strongly believe that innovative products like UrmO will change the way in which we commute and will give everyone lot of flexibility. UrmO also has plans to start shared mobility in the future.
With lot of talks going around Wearables and Hear-ables in the tech world, I predict that UrmO, the Munich based electric mobility ‘tech’ firm, will be the front runner of a ‘Foldable’ Mobility Solution revolution.
This is part of the PAC Talks with VJCV Series. Technology is indeed changing things around us and it it time to embrace the Change.