It’s not usual to see a micromobility startup succeeding. Those who keep an eye on cities – especially in Latin America – have seen many initiatives come and go. The Brazilian startup Tembici, however, has shown that a business model anchored in B2B sponsorship but driven by a diversity of end users can be, after all, the ideal formula. Always looking for new ways to see its bikes running, Tembici saw its revenue grow 40% in 2021 compared to the previous year – when it posted a BRL 100 million revenue – and wants to double that result in 2022. CFO Leandro Fariello told LABS that even carbon credits are in Tembici’s sights as a possibility for future business and revenue.
The earnings coming directly from the user, which accounted for 55% of the BRL 140 million gained in 2021, is what drives Tembici’s growth curve. But the startup only goes to a city when it can count on sponsorship from a partner company. Itaú, iFood, and Mastercard are some of Tembici’s partners. “And they are strategic, long-term partnerships linked to the concession period we have in each city. This is very important because it guarantees revenue throughout our journey in that city,” explains Fariello. In addition, recurring revenue from advertising from Tembici’s stations’ panels also complements the startup‘s B2B income.
Tembici’s investment in technology and marketing, including part of the resources from the Series C round, however, goes to customer acquisition and the end-user because that’s what really gives scale and brings value to the startup. According to Fariello, Tembici has seen this revenue share grow month by month after the pandemic, having reached its highest level in January. “February just didn’t beat January because it has fewer days.”
A few weeks ago, Tembici announced its arrival in its fourth Latin American country. The company will invest BRL 53 million to bring its shared bike system to Bogotá, Colombia. The project has an unprecedented proposal and will include 3,300 bicycles, 1,600 of which are electric, and at least 300 stations.
Currently, the startup operates 16,000 bikes in Brazil, Argentina, and Chile; of these, 1,000 are electric. Tembici has committed to deploying 10,000 more bikes to its entire network by the end of 2022, and half of this new fleet should be e-bikes.
Last-mile delivery becomes Tembici’s new business unit
In September last year, Tembici raised $80 million in a round led by Crescera Capital to scale its cycle delivery program, internally called ‘last-mile.’
What started with a partnership with iFood back in 2020 and has been gradually expanded to more cities, with a focus on e-bikes and what the company called the “hot last-mile” (food), should also grow to “cold last-mile” (any parcel that can be transported by a courier using a bike).
“The reflection that has been made worldwide is: does it make sense to deliver a book, a piece of clothing or a cell phone, with a truck, car or motorcycle? That’s why we created a unit specifically for this business for this, that will have its leader announced in the coming weeks in Tembici,” says Fariello, noting that the potential demand of this unit is enormous and that the market’s interest in Tembici’s solution comes from the growing ESG footprint.
The partnership with iFood, called iFood Pedal, registered around 2 million orders delivered with shared electric and conventional bikes in 2021, avoiding, according to both companies, the emission of 468 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. More than 15,000 couriers of Brazil‘s leading delivery app have registered to use Tembici’s solution. In addition to São Paulo and Rio, the partnership also works in the Brazilian cities of Salvador, Brasília, Recife, and Porto Alegre.
In the end, a courier is one of the users to occupy a Tembici bike throughout the day. This is how the startup looks at all these user diversification initiatives and, consequently, revenue possibilities. If at peak times it is the ordinary citizen, commuting to or from work, who will use the bicycles the most, at other times it may be the courier and any other user that Tembici may attract in the future. “We have Paulo Kakinoff, president of [the Brazilian airline] Gol, as an independent advisor. He always brings us an insight that Tembici is no different from an airline. An aircraft can never run empty. Our slot metric matches the seats by plane, as we try to make the most of our bicycles,” exemplifies Tembici’s CFO. The company reports that it has seen users grow 25% in 2021 compared to the previous year.
Thinking about how to take advantage of the company’s B2B side even further, Fariello tells LABS that Tembici has been talking to some companies and platforms in order to link the startup‘s service to carbon credits.
Since last June, users who ride shared bikes have received information about the amount of CO2 saved on each trip, in addition to a summary of time and calories spent. The data is registered in the user’s account. In 2020 alone, Tembici recorded more than 4 thousand tons of CO2 saved with pedaling.