Author: Lea Zander, Head of People & Organization
A new dawn
At that time, transport associations and companies in Germany had started to offer apps as digital information channels for mobile devices. These apps were often limited to one basic function: finding the best route from A to B. At the same time, mobility providers entered the market with offerings that were based on a digital business model from the start. The sharing economy was made possible by smartphones, GPS technology to show your own location and the trend towards “sharing over owning”. Within a short period of time, an overwhelming variety of options emerged for getting from A to B in novel ways. At the same time, a multitude of new apps were published in the app stores, each requiring its own customer account and payment data. As for clarity and user-friendliness, they were left by the wayside.
With services such as Call a Bike and Flinkster, Deutsche Bahn (DB) participated in this trend from an early stage. The key question was: How can the users’ “pain” resulting from digitalisation – confusion, poor comparability and laborious booking – be turned into an advantage using the tools of digitalisation?
Based on its experience in digitalising business models and its roots in local public transport, it quickly became clear within DB that a crucial link had to be created between newly developed forms of mobility and the traditionally fragmented local public transport industry to avoid being left behind: a specialised technology service provider that knows the industry and can develop innovative solutions with the methods and speed of a start-up. In just a short time, an internal project called “Unterwegs” (“On the Way”) evolved into a concrete plan to found a new company.
Looking back at Mobimeo’s founding from today’s perspective, it all starts – as is so often the case – with an encounter: Kalle Greven, Project Manager at DB, wants to get the new company off the ground – preferably right away. The idea is there, a positive business case and the technical understanding to implement it. What’s missing is a collaborator to help turn the idea into reality. The search quickly leads to a name, then a phone call to a meeting. Kai Peter, financing expert and entrepreneurial go-getter from the railway industry, finds Kalle’s enthusiasm infectious. Together they get the keys to the new company’s office on Prinzessinnenstraße in Berlin-Kreuzberg in the summer of 2018: “Unterwegs” becomes Mobimeo GmbH.
Growth and first products
In the first few months, speed is the word most often heard in the corridors of Mobimeo. We set a quick pace in the development of our minimal viable products (MVPs), with which we aim to prove to our first customers that we’re on the right track.
The young company is growing. The two founders become a team of 32 within the first year. Key positions are filled and it quickly becomes clear what Mobimeo can do to stand out from its emerging competitors on the market for Mobility-as-a-Service solutions. One of the crucial factors for the future success of mobility providers is to establish and develop the digital interface to their customers. This enables the providers to offer the best service and to bind customers to their own platform.
From the very beginning, we have pursued a partnership-based approach. Together with customers and mobility providers, we develop white-label apps and modules that, as a first step, incorporate the requirements of German local public transport and give users an alternative to the offerings of international tech companies.
In this way, we win over S-Bahn Stuttgart, Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) and S-Bahn Berlin in quick succession. That gives us at least three reasons to celebrate Mobimeo’s second birthday in 2020!
At the end of 2020, Mobimeo acquires part of moovel Group GmbH (moovel), which has been developing mobility platforms for municipalities and transport associations for some time. This makes us one of Europe’s largest platform developers for Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) applications. Together with BMW Group and Daimler Mobility AG as the existing shareholders of moovel, Deutsche Bahn AG pools its resources for developing regional mobility platforms at Mobimeo.
Changing the way cities move
We are convinced that global solutions, like those offered by international tech companies, are not the best solution for the mobility industry, nor for users. To achieve what we set out to do when we founded Mobimeo, we need our local perspective. How can we move through cities in a way that’s easy, convenient and still good for the planet? What modes of transport can we integrate into our products to provide the most compelling offer?
Our answer is a platform that we continue to develop in collaboration with strong local partners. A platform for easy-to-use apps that take users straight to their destination.