MOVE America – Panelists Interview
Micromobility consultants and OEMs share their journey towards their current role in the shared mobility space. No two paths are alike, highlighting the broad skillsets that are needed in shared mobility.
Before we dive into three full days of panels and round tables, we wanted to introduce our guests that will be joining us at MOVE America. With their industry expertise, we are excited to glean more insights into what the future of mobility holds.
From left to right:
Janelle Wang, CEO of ACTON
is a designer turned entrepreneur with 15 years of strategic planning, new category creation, and design thinking for Fortune 500s and start ups, bringing breakthrough innovation and sustainability to reality. She is helping to lead the charge to shape a new, more efficient, vibrant, and livable urban environment.
Venkatesh Gopal, Business Development and Partnerships Manager at movmi
has vast experience, from handling customers to plotting growth strategies, all in the automotive world, which has helped him understand the fundamentals of mobility – the need to move! Having worked with leading auto OEMs, the practicality of ‘shared’ use cases made him pivot to establishing a career in shared mobility. Venkatesh specializes in EVs and focuses on creating sustainable – environmentally and economically – models.
Enrico Howe, Sharing Research Lead at unu
has worked in the new mobility market for 8 years as a researcher, consultant, business development lead. Currently, he is a Berlin-based freelance mobility researcher and consultant and helps micromobility operators, manufacturers and suppliers in understanding and navigating the market. He is the lead author of the annual Global Scooter Sharing Market Report and understands the moped sharing market like no other.
What was your path to the mobility and transportation space?
Venkatesh Gopal, movmi
I always wanted to be an automobile engineer growing up, and that passion led me to working with automotive companies in various capacities. My ‘aha!’ moment for mobility came a few years back when I heading home from delivering a strategy plan and got stuck in traffic in the streets of Dubai. Being in a congested street got me thinking about accessibility and shared use in place of ownership and single occupancy vehicles. Fast forward to 2019 and I am now helping organizations deliver and execute their shared mobility ideas. Plus, all I ‘own’ are two bikes and the rest of my transportation relies on shared, multi-modal uses.
Enrico Howe, unu
I joined the shared and electric space of mobility to openly question the products and tools in the sector we have at hand. I believe that this user-centric approach is crucial to identifying the solutions which can contribute to a substantial modal shift. My first project was an inductive charging carsharing pilot – a set-up that even after eight years, is not established yet. The inductive charging project was focused on interoperability in the field. The project tried to help establish first a national, later international standard of the charging process. A major problem of all charging solutions (conductive and inductive) were missing standards for the presented solutions, which became a barrier for the industry growth.
What is the most challenging or inspiring aspect of your role?
Janelle Wang, ACTON
As a CEO, there are a lot of things on my plate; I wish I had a clone!
ACTON created a platform that helps local, small to medium size fleet businesses to be successful. We get to launch in different cities across the globe each week along with our amazing customers! It is very exciting, inspiring and makes us feel proud.
Enrico Howe, unu
Moped sharing is the smallest sector of the shared vehicle modes. At the same time, I believe it is a very unique and complementary use case. I believe there has been a lack of overarching (operator/manufacturer independent) communication and story-telling for this mode for quite some time. I’m trying to address this gap by publishing the annual Global Scooter Sharing Market Report and quarterly industry updates, and curating the Global Moped Sharing Map. My goal is to enable various stakeholders to quickly access and understand the market. In short, I’m trying to stimulate a serious discussion on the suitability of moped sharing as a serious mobility alternative.
How has the pandemic impacted shared mobility?
Janelle Wang, ACTON
For the better. People are realizing they want to be in control of their own transportation choices. They are realizing how happy it makes them to be on a scooter or a bike versus being sealed in a box, whether that’s in a car, bus, or train. With choosing a scooter or bike, you don’t get stuck in traffic either. It’s also a healthier and more active way to get from A to B, mentally and physically.
Venkatesh Gopal, movmi
The pandemic has brought shared mobility (and transit) under the scanner. The whole system went through a shock and is showing signs of recovery. Operational models have been modified and trip and vehicle disinfection could now be seen as a new norm.
At movmi, we recently compiled the results of our city-wide survey (~1000 respondents) and just 14% mentioned the intent to opt for individual car ownership as a result of COVID-19. Overall, shared mobility has seen a change, but it is mainly comes as additional precautions when using the service (which in my opinion is something we now see in every aspect of our lives). In addition, the pandemic has unearthed economical benefits of WFH, remote collaboration opportunities, and decreased congestion. I personally feel the world has been brought a little bit closer, with geographical boundaries posing less of a limitation to support communities or do business.