Singapore's Neuron is taking the slow and steady approach to micromobility
Singapore's Neuron Mobility has raised a $43.5 million Series B round, bringing its total capital investment to $77.7 million. The shared micromobility company with a presence in Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, the U.K. and Canada will use the funds to invest in its proprietary technology and double down in existing markets, focusing on cities that want an exclusive or semi-exclusive relationship with operators, according to Zachary Wang, Neuron's co-founder and CEO.
"Our view is the market should be regulated with a limited number of operators," Wang told TechCrunch. "That's the only way to run both a sustainable business as well as a responsible service in a city in the long run."
Since its founding in 2016, Neuron has expanded internationally to 26 cities, with sizable market dominance in Australia, where the operator can be found on the streets of every capital city in the country. While Neuron doesn't quite have the scale of competitors like Lime, Bird and Tier, Wang said Neuron's expansion strategy is not based on putting scooters on the ground everywhere.
"We are taking a global ambition and global view, but we are growing in a unique Neuron way that focuses on highly regulated markets and continues to build and invest into a growing portfolio of cities with long-term contracts and limited competition," said Wang, noting that chasing "free-for-all" cities that have allowed multiple operators to dump vehicles on the roads has not led to profitability -- or public acceptance of micromobility.
Neuron isn't the only micromobility company that is pursuing limited vendor permits and a slower, more organic growth plan. Spin, which was recently acquired by Tier, last year declared its intent to only go after more exclusive city partnerships, and Veo says it's been able to achieve favorable unit economics and even profitability by cultivating a more patient and sustainable business model.
Neuron has also touted its commitment to designing and manufacturing its own scooters, rather than purchasing them off the shelf. Nowadays, most micromobility players design their own scooters and work with partners like Segway and Okai to manufacture.
"We have always been taking the more painful path of developing upstream technologies, hardware, software, IoT," said Wang. "It would have been much easier to buy that all from somebody else, but we deliberately took that path and now we're seeing the fruits of our labors."
Last November, Neuron announced its in-house scooter ADAS technology, which uses high-accuracy location tech and rapid geofence detection in order to detect and correct unsafe riding behavior, like aggressive swerving, skidding, curb jumping, tandem riding and sidewalk riding. The company is currently trialing this tech, what Neuron is calling its new "e-scooter brain," on 1,500 scooters in Australia, Canada and the U.K.
The latest investment will help Neuron roll out the "brain" in more cities at a quicker scale, said Wang.
Neuron's Series B was co-led by GSR Ventures and Square Peg, with participation from Singapore's EDBI.
Correction: A previous version of this article stated Neuron has launched in 22 cities.