Meet Upway, a French startup that is building a marketplace for used electric bikes. The startup has just raised a round of funding of 5.7 million dollars (5 million euros) with Sequoia Capital and Global Founders Capital.
If you are familiar with the world of online car marketplaces, Upway will also sound familiar to you. The company buys electric bicycles from both customers and businesses. They check them and fix them in case something is broken. After that, Upway lists and sells the electric bikes on their website.
Currently, the startup has a warehouse in Gennevilliers near Paris. A team of five repairers check each bike that arrives with a list of 20 different tests. Upway can then ship the bike to customers in cardboard packaging – the handlebars and pedals are detached from the frame.
On average, bicycles are 20 to 50% cheaper than their original cost. You can find products from many well-known brands in the electric bike industry, such as Mustache, VanMoof, Cowboy and Canyon. All electric bikes are guaranteed for one year.
Why electric bikes and not normal bikes? Co-founder and CEO Toussaint Wattinne told me that e-bikes are the fastest growing segment of the bicycle industry. Last year, 500,000 electric bicycles were sold in France, an increase of 30% compared to the previous year. And yet, due to a supply chain issue, it’s not always easy to find and buy a new electric bike right now.
Also, there is more friction when buying a used electric bike because you are not sure if the motor is still running well and you are not sure if you should replace the battery when you get it. And, of course, e-bikes are expensive commodities, so you want a hassle-free experience.
Upway buys bikes directly, which means it technically owns the stock of e-bikes. It will be a capital intensive startup. But many companies have thrived in the used car market. Upway could follow the same path and grow alongside the electric bike industry.