By Mehdi Essaidi Principal at Capgemini Invent & co-founder, Mov’InBlue and Ross Douglas, Founder & CEO, Autonomy
What are the key success factors and the challenges for integrating startups into MaaS platforms that integrate mobility services, whether public or private, to provide a seamless and end-to-end experience for users.
Mobility startups are growing
In September 2019, the founders of Autonomy & the Urban Mobility Summit and Capgemini Invent launched a study with 600 European startups to better understand their dynamic and perspectives. One of the first elements to emerge from the study is the excitement experienced by mobility startups: more than 40% of them have grown by 20 to 100% over the last year, and 20% of them have even grown by more than 100% in the year.
The fundraising activities of French mobility startups also attest to this increase: the funds raised in the first half of 2019 represent 95% of the funds raised by mobility startups in 2018. In comparison, in July 2019, the funds raised by the rest of French Tech’s startups reached 80% of the total amount raised in 2018. And the startups surveyed confirm their confidence in the future, with two-thirds of them stating that they have good or very good growth prospects in the coming years.
9 out of 10 startups see MaaS as an opportunity
But what will their future be made of? Our study shows that 90% of the startups surveyed, both mobility operators and integrators, have understood the development potential of MaaS platforms: 85% are open to the idea of joining them. Indeed, everything points to the fact that the mobility service as we know it will be transformed by the “Mobility as a Service” platforms that are currently being developed.
While open data is often one of the issues in creating partnerships between different actors, 75% of startups responded that they were willing to share their data under an agreement or in exchange for a service. This is a very encouraging sign for the integration of startups into MaaS initiatives.
However, startups are lucid, and admit that several issues are key to ensuring the development of these platforms. According to them, the issues are mainly related to the ability to create fluid interfaces between the actors of a MaaS platform. The two most frequently mentioned key success factors are on the one hand the level of trust, transparency between the different actors, and on the other hand interoperability.
What lessons can be learned from the first initiatives?
Capgemini Invent has accompanied several projects to create MaaS platforms. We have defined 4 levels of integration of the different actors to offer an end-to-end service:
– Level 1: Geolocation of mobility services
– Level 2: Route search
– Level 3: Reservation of transport services
– Level 4: Payment for transport services
Our feedback is that while levels 1 and 2 are achieved with almost all startups involved in a MaaS platform creation process, there are still very few startups able to integrate into a unified service for booking, payment of transport means and customer service management. Most platforms are stuck at level 2, and if they have reached level 3, usually, reservations can be made with only one mobility service provider at a time. One of the main reasons why level 3 is not reached is that startups do not have developed the API needed.
Indeed, mobility startups are often focused on increasing their number of customers or bookings for fundraising purposes, particularly if they are a mobility service provider. With limited resources and more fragile treasuries than those of large groups, developing APIs to join MaaS platforms with high levels of integration represents an investment that diverts them from their backlog and is therefore generally not a priority for them. In addition, startups may be reluctant to integrate deeply partnerships with large groups, particularly technological stack providers. They have a challenge not to disclose all their operations for fear of having their technology stolen by groups with much greater financial resources.
In addition, several of the MaaS initiatives are launched on the market by large groups in the form of Proof of Concept (PoC) or Minimum Viable Product (MVP). These prototypes, which do not remunerate startups, represent a lesser interest for the latter, on the one hand because they are offered to a limited number of users in order to prove the value of the concept, and on the other hand because the prospects of return on investment are uncertain.
Some accelerators are driven by new models and more mature sectors to contribute to the dynamics of startups in MaaS platforms
Despite these difficulties, we remain convinced that mobility startups have a key role to play in the development of MaaS platforms. In order to facilitate the collaboration with startups, several avenues are possible.
The first one is the development of calls for projects that would allow startups to be remunerated for their investment. However, it should be borne in mind that this type of approach allows POC or MVP carriers to observe and better understand users’ behaviour in the face of easier access to different transport offers: what are the deportations? theirs preferred means of transport depending on the situation? These observations will enable them to better value the various services and refine their economic model, the definition of which is still a major challenge today.
A second approach is to impose API models in order to facilitate the exploitation of shared data in an OpenData logic. This is what the “Mobility Data Specification” platform, promoted by the Open Mobility Foundation, aims at. It has been created by the Los Angeles Depatrment of Transportation to ease the management of dockless micro-mobility programs thanks to a standardized communication of data between cities and private companies. By now, more than 60 cities in the United States and around the world use this solution to manage micro-mobility services.
To sum up, startups are well aware of the interest for them to integrate MaaS platforms, but their level of maturity is often insufficient to transform this opportunity into a profitable reality for them. Therefore, in the first MaaS initiatives, the first startups to take the MaaS train are car start-ups such as carpooling and VTCs. They have historically developed earlier and will reach the necessary level of maturity more quickly in order to fully benefit from the opportunities offered by MaaS.
Want to see more? Check out this handy infographic about startups and MaaS!