Tallinn-based start-up Vok Bikes is supplying the last mile delivery space with its electric cargo bikes - it recently launched its new Vok XL model to the market which has a payload of up to 200kg.
The company has raised a €3.8 million Seed funding round. Participation in the round includes SmartCap, Metaplanet, Specialist VC, Sunly, angel investors and a €300,000 grant from Enterprise Estonia. The funding will see Vok Bikes deliver on its plans and push ‘1000 more cargo bikes across Europe in the next year’.
"Vok Bikes clearly contributes to solving environmental problems with the development of cargo bikes, particularly in the transportation sector as cargo volumes are increasing and there is need for new solutions due to changed market demand and purchasing practices. Therefore, it is a logical step for us to contribute to innovation in the transportation sector and participate in the current seed round," says Sille Pettai, Fund Manager and Member of the Board of SmartCap.
To find out more about the electric cargo bike space, and Vok's plans for the future, we grabbed a word with Indrek Petjärv, Vok Bikes' co-founder and CEO.
How competitive are you finding the electric cargo bike space at the moment?
More and more competitors are popping up - it's really fragmented. There are lots of small players but it's a perfect time to go to market because we don't have an established market leader.
We already have seen that there’s been some mergers, some acquisitions - and I think we're going to see lots of them in next 24 months, because the fundraising situation is pretty hard. It's quite hard to raise funding for new hardware start-ups in this field, if you don't have a substantial track record – basically we do already, we have hundreds of vehicles on the streets and quite strong client portfolios.
How competitive is the ‘tech’ part of the market?
Tech wise, we are already market leaders - our approach has been quite different, since day one. Since we have a really strong engineering background we decided to basically build everything in-house - meaning that we have really short development cycles and we can often do different iterations, this kind of gives us a competitive advantage.
Also, since all the component systems have been optimised for a specific use case, for a specific bike, then it already gives us a price advantage, but also what's most important is the reliability - everything has been optimised for this vehicle so it's already the most reliable bike on the market, and this is definitely unique in this field.
We actually have a really smart product, it’s not just a four wheel bike – different traction control, eABS systems and over-the-air updates – things quite unheard of in micro mobility before, but are quite important when you trying to replace cars. When you try to build a real alternative to cars, then you have to offer the same convenience, same safety and so on.
Vok bikes are now in ten countries – how are you finding the infrastructure in cities to be suitable for your bikes?
It's getting better, especially in the large cities like London, Paris, Berlin, and so on. They're investing a lot in the bike infrastructure, because they see that in order to keep up with the climate goals, they need to prioritise emissions of transportation. When cars are not allowed anymore, or if they're extremely inefficient, then the question is, but what's the alternative? Cargo bikes are subsidised by governments.
Our headquarters are in Tallinn in Estonia - if you have been there, then you’ll know there's not such good biking infrastructure, I would say - but even here using cargo bikes is much more efficient. For example, according to the Estonian national postal company, or their data, in Tallinn they are around 20 to 30% faster, and that’s where there’s no real biking infrastructure - this shows the kind of potential of this solution.
What’s the dream?
To be a market leader in the cargo bike segment in three years. But what we are really trying to do is something that Tesla did with electric cars, or what Bird did with electric scooters – we want to make them socially acceptable, we want to show people that this really can replace your car, or your company's car. And if we manage to do that, then I would say that we’re in a pretty good place.
Main image: Vok Bikes founding team