Just like e-commerce and video streaming, the services of Tembici, the Brazil-based micromobility and bike-share startup, also surfed the good wave of digitalization and the change in habits driven by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the case of micromobility, this happened preceded by a significant drop in demand, the same one that shook up the operations of apps like Uber for a few months, right at the beginning of the health crisis.
This is one of the findings of a study that Tembici carried out on the status of micromobility, particularly bike-sharing, in Latin America, using its own data and information about other systems available in the region, and is being released this Monday (23). “We always knew Tembici’s place [in the market] because it is fundamental to our activity. But the study gave us the visibility of how much habits have actually changed and also showed us how knowing Tembici is knowing the use of shared bicycles in that region,” the CIO at Tembici, Carolina Rivas, told LABS last Thursday.
Tembici is currently the largest bike-sharing operator in Latin America in terms of the number of systems and bikes available (including the 2,500 bikes from the iFood Pedal program, a partnership with the iFood, the leading delivery app in Brazil), as well as in the volume of trips.
According to the startup‘s study, the region has just over 45,500 shared bikes, 18,800 of which are from Tembici. In the countries where the startup operates — Argentina, Brazil, and Chile —, Tembici accounts for 72% of the equipment supply. Considering the 75 bike-sharing systems available in 13 Latin American countries, 33% (25) are located in Brazil. Colombia, Mexico and Argentina, with 20%, 17% and 13%, respectively, come next in the offer of bike-sharing systems.
All these numbers represent, according to Tembici, something still far from the real potential of micromobility in the region. “The territory’s potential is approximately 15x greater than the current one when we talk about the number of bicycles circulating on the streets,” Rivas said.
Tembici study also included an online survey with more than 5,700 users through which it discovered that the female presence among the startup‘s users (38%) is higher than the average of cyclists in the three countries where it operates. For Rivas, this also has to do with why people, in general, choose to use Tembici: comfort.
“39% of people said that ‘comfort’ is what makes them use Tembici. This unfolds in several aspects, such as not having to take care of the bike’s maintenance or even having a safe place to leave the equipment. (…) We were surprised by the diversity among users and that there are more women using bike-sharing services than with women with their own bikes. This opens the possibility for a series of actions and public policies,” highlighted Tembici’s CIO.
Looking at Tembici’s internal data, it is possible to see the drop in demand that hit the startup at the start of the health crisis. However, as activities resumed, shared bicycles were also used again and with an upward bias.
“People saw Tembici as a safe and accessible option to get around again. If we disregard the weight of people with up to two minimum wages, which is where the large mass of couriers from iFood Pedal comes in, we will see that users also are distributed among several income profiles, showing that shared bikes are a solution for people of different social classes,” noted Rivas.
In 2021, Tembici closed the year with an increase of more than 40% in travel slots (which is how the fractions of 15 minutes of bike use are called) compared to 2020 and more than 4% compared to 2019. In terms of trip volume, the growth was 34% over the beginning of 2019.
This growth was also only possible because Tembici seems to have found the ideal business model to offer micromobility services. 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.
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. In addition, recurring revenue from advertising from Tembici’s stations’ panels also complements the startup‘s B2B income.
In the beginning of the year, 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.
It is also the startup‘s goal to deploy another 10,000 bikes on its network by the end of 2022; half of this new fleet will be e-bikes (today, they are just 1,000).