Amsterdam-based startup VanMoof has raised a $128 million Series C funding round. The company designs and sells electric bikes that are quite popular in some markets. It now wants to become the world’s leading e-bike brand by iterating at a faster pace.
Asia-based private equity firm Hillhouse Investment is leading the round, with Gillian Tans, the former CEO of Booking.com, also participating. Some existing investors also put some more money on the table, such as Norwest Venture Partners, Felix Capital, Balderton Capital and TriplePoint Capital.
Today’s Series C represents a big jump compared to the company’s Series B. Last year, VanMoof raised a $40 million Series B. Overall, if you add it all up, the startup has raised $182 million in total.
If you’re not familiar with VanMoof’s e-bikes, TechCrunch reviewed both the most recent S3 and X3 models. On paper, they are identical. The VanMoof X3 features a smaller frame and smaller wheels.
What makes VanMoof different from your average e-bike manufacturer is that the company tries to control everything from the supply chain to the customer experience. VanMoof e-bikes are premium e-bikes that are primarily designed for city rides. The most recent models currently cost $2,298 or €2,198.
They feature an electric motor paired with an electronic gear shifting system. It has four gears and you don’t have to change gears yourself. All you have to do is jump on the bike and start pedaling.
Recognizable by their iconic triangular-shaped futuristic-looking frames, the S3 and X3 also come with hydraulic brakes, integrated lights and some smart features. There’s an integrated motion detector combined with an alarm, a GPS chip and cellular connectivity.
If you declare your bike as stolen, the GPS and cellular chips go live and you can track your bike in the VanMoof app. The company’s bikes are now also compatible with Apple’s Find My app.
Instead of relying exclusively on off-the-shelf parts, the company works with a small set of suppliers to manufacture custom components. This way, it can cut out as many middleperson as possible to bring costs down. It’s also a good competitive advantage.
Growing a company like VanMoof is a capital-intensive business. The company has opened retail stores and service hubs in 50 different cities around the world. While the company started in Europe, the U.S. is now the fastest growth market for VanMoof.
With today’s funding round, the startup plans to double-down on its current strategy. You can expect updated bikes with refined designs and more custom parts. You can expect more stores and service hubs around the world. And you can probably expect more online sales as well.
“It will help us get 10 million people on our bikes in the next five years,” co-founder and CEO Taco Carlier said in a statement. So far, there are 150,000 people using VanMoof bikes.
Today’s investment shouldn’t come as a surprise. The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated plans to transform European cities — and prioritize bikes over cars. Last year, TechCrunch’s Natasha Lomas and I wrote a comprehensive overview of key policy developments in four major cities — Paris, Barcelona, London and Milan. VanMoof is now benefiting from these policy shifts.