Less than three months after the company’s launch, e-bike subscription service DANCE announced that it raised $17.8 million in series A funding. The funding round was led by a large European venture capital firm, HV Holtzbrink Ventures, reports TechCrunch. DANCE is also supported by entrepreneurs and Ilkka Paananen (Founder & CEO Supercell), Jeannette zu Fürstenberg (La Famiglia), Kevin P. Ryan (Founder & CEO, AlleyCorp), Neil Parikh (Founder & CSO Casper), Bjarke Ingels (Founder & CEO BIG Architects), among others.
“The most viable future of biking”
Rainer Märkle, general partner HV Holtzbrink Ventures, commented on his firm’s investment in the e-bike subscription service in an October 22 statement.
“The mobility market is seeing a huge shift towards bikes, strongly fueled by the paradigm shift of vehicles going electric. Unfortunately, the majority of e-bikes on the market today have some combination of poor design, high upfront costs, and cumbersome maintenance. We analyzed the overall mobility market, evaluated all means of transport, and crunched the numbers on all types of business models for a few years before we found what we were looking for. DANCE is by the far the most viable future of biking, bridging the gap between e-bike ownership and more ‘joyful’ accessibility to go places,” said Märkle.
The e-bike subscription service was launched in Berlin three months ago by Eric Quidenus-Wahlforss and Alexander Ljung of SoundCloud and Christian Springub, formerly of Jimdo to offer e-bikes affordably via subscription. Rather than paying €2,000 or more (about $2,367 U.S.) to buy an e-bike outright, riders can subscribe to DANCE for €69 ($82 U.S.) which includes delivery, maintenance and theft protection with no up-front costs. After delivery of a DANCE e-bike, subscribers get three days to test the e-bike at no cost. For now, the service is available by invitation only in Berlin. The company hopes to expand into more cities next year.
Building a community of e-bike riders
“The goal of DANCE is to spark a global movement built on a connected community of passionate e-bike riders, ultimately making cities more bike-friendly and livable,” said Quidenus-Wahlforss, co-founder and CEO of DANCE. “We’ve been inundated with positive responses from around the world since we announced our invite-only pilot program, and it’s become crystal clear just how much desire, demand and excitement there is for a service like DANCE across the world.”
The benefits to subscribing to an e-bike subscription service like DANCE are more than just the price difference between subscription fees and ownership costs. It is also the convenience of a subscriber having their own e-bike available when and where they want it. Similar e-bike subscription services require a rider to locate a nearby e-bike or scooter. With COVID-19 cases on the rise internationally, social distance continues to be important, making solo travel more attractive than ride sharing or carpooling.
Surge in e-bike popularity
E-bikes are growing in popularity. According to Tech Crunch, e-bike sales in the U.K. increased 230% this summer. In the U.S., e-bike purchases are up 85% and, since March, the EU has built more than 2,300 kilometers of bike lanes.
“In densely populated cities and other urban areas, owning a car shouldn’t be an option especially since cleaner, greener and bike-friendly public infrastructure is increasingly expanding, said Quidenus-Wahlforss. “These areas are expensive and congested with commuter traffic. DANCE is a holistic solution built for the person interested in saving time, the environment and staying healthy.”
DANCE is not the only e-bike subscription service on the market. DASH is based in the U.K., and its target market is employers and employees. They develop bespoke packages to meet an organization’s specific needs. In Toronto, the Zygg e-bike subscription service offers several subscription plans and price points as well as reduced liability insurance plans.
A variety of factors are making e-bikes more popular, and with the investment required to own one, e-bike subscription services make a lot of sense. Between a growing need for more micromobility options and a need to socially distance, we anticipate that DANCE will continue to grow, and it now has the funding to scale and expand into other cities while perfecting its subscription program and the technology that supports DANCE e-bikes. We also expect there to be new entrants into this growing market over the next few years.