Colombian CosmicGo wants to reshape mobility amid rising urban transportation concerns

. Jul 17, 2020
Colombian CosmicGo wants to reshape mobility amid rising urban transportation concerns Photo: CosmicGo

With cities resuming activities and social distancing measures ensconced as the new normal, the Covid-19 pandemic has challenged concepts of mobility. As such, public transportation has been transformed from an urbanization solution to a pain point for city governments. “All of a sudden, an industry that was something of a vitamin became a painkiller,” says Jonathan Calmus, CEO at CosmicGo, a multimodal transportation platform for renting bikes, electric bikes, scooters, motorcycles, and cars through shared ownership. Founded in 2018, CosmicGo entered Colombia with its scooters at the end of that year but left soon after, for reasons Mr. Calmus summarizes as “a perfect storm of government regulation combined with private interest.”

</p> <p>“[Micromobility] is not a business that you can just throw money at, that’s not the solution, the solution is actually thinking through the steps, figuring out how to make things efficiently, and this comes with time,” he ponders.</p> <p>“That’s why I think everyone kind of grew too large for their own good at the same time, as nobody had the patience that was needed to actually solve the problem. All we did was create a new bubble.” The micromobility sector has thrown up issues yet to be solved, especially in Latin America, with companies such as Grow and Lime cutting staff and reducing or ceasing operations in Brazil and Colombia. At that time, CosmicGo also decided to step back, but the company is now back again in the country with a scooter rental service running from 6 am to 8 pm, to be launched in August.</p> <p>“Micromobility, especially shared mobility, is a very valuable system,” the executive affirms. “On average, people are really only using their vehicles between 5 and 20 percent of the time, 80 percent of that time your vehicle is sitting there doing nothing for you.” Through a partnership system, CosmicGo allows users or partners — as they are called — to buy e-bikes or e-scooters as an investment or rent their vehicle fleet on the network to generate income. “We want the two types of public that we have can register their car, bicycle, or motorcycle to invest, or rent the means of transportation they choose, directly from our platform,” said Jairo Ochoa, partner of the company.&nbsp;</p> <p>In addition to the on-demand rental scooter service soon to be launched in Colombia, Cosmic’s platform allows users to rent a bicycle, motorcycle, or car for a week to six months. “We know that there’s a group of people in the world who really want to access things super on-demand, so Cosmic has free-floating networks and that’s for people who typically need to use by the minute,” Mr. Calmus explains.</p> <p>“But this is a bit cost-prohibitive to a lot of people. There’s another group of people in the world who also need access to vehicles, that don’t qualify for traditional financing and can’t spend 10 or 20,000 dollars or even 2,000 dollars, and that’s where Cosmic comes in,” he ponders. “Our real objective is to get any vehicle into anyone’s hand for as long as they need it. Whether it is by the minute or by the month.”</p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><img loading="lazy" width="683" height="1024" src="" alt="“Maybe we’re not going to be the fastest-growing startup of all times to hit unicorn &#91;status&#93;, but we will at least provide a real service that is sustainable that can last for years to come, and that’s our objective.” Jonathan Calmus, CEO at CosmicGo. Photo: CosmicGo" class="wp-image-44681" srcset=" 683w, 200w, 768w, 1024w, 1366w, 610w" sizes="(max-width: 683px) 100vw, 683px" /><figcaption>“Maybe we’re not going to be the fastest-growing [transportation] startup of all times to hit unicorn [status], but we will at least provide a real service that is sustainable that can last for years to come, and that’s our objective.” Jonathan Calmus, CEO at CosmicGo. Photo: CosmicGo</figcaption></figure> <p>Available in 15 countries, 19 cities, and with more than 70,000 users globally, the platform has 17,000 users in Colombia, and now seeks to improve safe individual transportation amid the pandemic. In Latin America, the company, which claims to be the largest network of shared resources in the region, is gaining ground in Chile and Peru, and is also starting to establish a foothold in Mexico. “We do have networks across Europe, parts of the Middle East, even parts of Asia, but we are heavily focused on Latin America more than anything,” Mr. Calmus points out.</p> <p>Part of a strategy designed to promote independent entrepreneurship through franchises, CosmicGo’s business model relies heavily on the right partnerships to thrive. With 30 global partners, Mr. Calmus says that the Colombian company helped the <a href="">Spanish delivery app Glovo</a> to enter Argentina, at the beginning of 2018. “Over half of [partners] are passive investors: people who are buying vehicles for Cosmic to operate. They want to be part of an impact investment, a social cause.”</p> <p>“The other side of our corporate partners are what we call franchisees, those are people who are buying fleets but to operate themselves,” the executive explains. “Those are global companies, we had the opportunity to work with Glovo to help launch them in Argentina, now we’re going to be working with them in another city that we are not allowed to talk about yet,” he anticipates.</p> <h2>The size of the opportunity&nbsp;</h2> <p>In the midst of preventive isolation, Cosmic has been running up to 1,000 daily trips globally in vehicles on demand and free fleet available on the platform. Through a monitoring center, the company tracks all of its vehicles, besides conducting strict disinfection and cleaning protocols at the end of each journey. “Right now the trend is moving towards rentals and subscriptions, meaning long-term access to our vehicles with insurance and maintenance fully included,” the Cosmic CEO reveals. “I do believe that there is a world where free-floating [fleets] will be a dominant form of share mobility again, but maybe not right now.”</p> <p>As millions of people gradually resume some form of daily activities and turn to urban mobility, new social dynamics on transportation are a major concern in order to avoid contamination risks. According to the consulting firm Mckinsey &amp; Co, individual mobility in 2030 will be a market that exceeds USD 200 billion in the U.S. and will hit USD 100 billion in Europe. “Now that society is more aware of preventive mobility, we want them not to buy a new form of transportation, but to invest that money in a safe and reliable service,” he defends.</p> <p>Set to roll-out in August in the Colombian cities of Medellín, Bogota, and Pereira, the shared mobility startup will offer the scooter rental service from 6 am to 8 pm through its website, and soon, it will make it available 24/7 through a mobile app.&nbsp;</p> <p>“Now we actually have user data that tells us where people are trying to use the service and so we leverage that to go find partners locally in different places.” Asked about why CosmicGo is not available in Brazil, Mr. Calmus says that the company is looking for the right partner. “When we find that partner, and we can provide the best customer experience, we enter Brazil. For now, our hands are full.”</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <p class="has-text-align-center"><a aria-label="undefined (opens in a new tab)" href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener"><em>This article was originally published on LABS – Latin America Business Stories, a news platform covering business, technology, and society in the region for an English-speaking audience.</em></a></p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><img loading="lazy" width="1024" height="124" src="" alt="" class="wp-image-41934" srcset=" 1024w, 300w, 768w, 610w, 1320w" sizes="(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px" /></figure> <p>

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Anna Lima

Anna Lima is an editor at LABS

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