Sometimes it seems like life can’t get any faster, and then it does. Or, that things can’t get any more expensive, and then they do. With more options than ever, getting from point A to point B, in a fast, easy and affordable manner is still a problem many city dwellers face.
Who are you? Tell us about your business and what inspired you to create it.
We are the four founders of VeloMetro Mobility, Kody, John, Sean and Jonathan. We founded VeloMetro because we saw a great need for healthy, convenient, fun and inexpensive urban travel. Our solution to this is a network of shared electric VeloCars. Our VeloCar is essentially a 3-wheeled electric bike with an enclosure. We’re designing the vehicle from the ground up to provide modern safety and convenience that one would find in a small car.
What has been the most challenging part about running this business and how have you addressed it?
One big challenge that we have been faced with is people thinking that we are attempting to do too much by creating a sharing network as well as a vehicle, both from scratch. We have been steadily convincing people that the sharing network is equally essential to our business plan as the vehicle, and that we are fully able to execute on our development plan. We have been doing this by demonstrating our rapid development and functional prototypes as well as showing traction that we have made with early sharing network partners.
How has Vancouver’s rising startup community played a role in the development of VeloMetro?
Vancouver’s rising startup community has played a role since we have been part of two local accelerators, Venture Connection and now VentureLabs. We have also attended several events and training sessions that have been held by other business accelerators in the city. There’s a buzz in Vancouver about creating the next Creo, Sierra Wireless or HootSuite, and everyone is generally very willing to offer advice to startups.
What core problem is your company specifically solving and/or what’s the main value you provide?
The core problem that we are solving is that we need to change the way we move around a city if we are to greatly reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and carbon footprints. We believe that the one-way vehicle sharing business model has a great opportunity to reduce road congestion and a person’s need to own a vehicle. Furthermore, cities are looking for greater ways to encourage modal shift – from passively driving automobiles towards active transportation. Our VeloCar sharing networks address all of these issues, while also providing a fun, safe, and comfortable riding experience.
How did you end up becoming an entrepreneur and what challenges did you personally overcome to succeed?
Kody, Jonathan and Sean were faced with an option to become job-hunters or entrepreneurs when the electric vehicle company we were working for pivoted into a software company. We were offered the opportunity to start a new company and to take over the former company’s electric vehicle contracts as our initial contracts, giving us a soft launch into entrepreneurship. We soon realized that being an engineering services company was a tough slog however, and we pined for creating an EV of our own that we could market. Not having “Elon Musk Dollars” at hand, we brought in John to help develop a business plan that we could get others excited by.
One big challenge that we have had to overcome is that being an engineer employee is far different from being an engineer entrepreneur. The focus rapidly shifts from “what cool things can I design” to “what cool things can I design that really address a market need”.
What entrepreneur has inspired you the most for running your business and what makes them so special?
My first experience working with another entrepreneur was with Jay Giraud, who founded Rapid Electric Vehicles. He has inspired us to continually push forward despite the number of disinterested parties that one may face. Another two inspirational entrepreneurs for me have been Ben Sparrow and Josh Zoshi of Saltworks. They are SFU MOT MBA grads and founded Saltworks soon after graduation and have been very successful in growing the company. I, Kody, just graduated from the same program in 2014 and hope to follow in their footsteps.
What Vancouver celebrity/influencer would you most be excited to have as a member of the team and why?
We bounced this question around to the founders and came up with these people:
- Trevor Linden – Vancouver icon, very keen on cycling and health.
- Steve Nash – Vancouver and Victoria icon, athlete who has overcome huge odds
- Brent Toderian – urbanist who would provide some great insight into how our VeloCars would fit in an urban plan.
- Stephen Quinn – to add absolute clarity and frivolity at the same time
- David Suzuki – His support of our business would mean so much in terms of validation of our goals
If you could tell your younger self something what would it be?
Seek out and experience the variety in life and career. These experiences will make you well-rounded and you can never tell when a bit of experience from one area will come in handy for solving a completely unrelated problem.
What are some accessible resources used and winning habits you have developed to learn and grow as an entrepreneur?
There are so many great tools and resources available if you seek them out, whether they be online or in person at accelerator or school events. If you have a great idea, there are few reasons to not pursue it.
What’s your advice for current or future entrepreneurs?
Don’t wait! Start talking with friends about your idea. Develop it further. Accept rejection and use it to improve your idea. Be open minded, but don’t accept everyone’s opinion as gospel. Run fast, but ensure you take time for introspection.
*Vancouver Entrepreneurs is a weekly feature on the city’s most notable entrepreneurs and startups that are making a local and even a global impact. If you think your venture deserves to be on the series, send an email to casey(at)vancitybuzz(dot)com to explain why you’re a fit.