Bzzt offers a new (fast, cheap and emission-free) way of traveling short distances in the cities. With the unique and straightforward price model of "3 öre" per meter Bzzt changes the game of intra-city traveling. It is also the first taxi service in Sweden that is awarded with "Bra Miljöval" an Swedish ecolabel referred to as "Good Environmental Choice" in English. The vehicles are three-wheeled electric "pods" that are extremely energy efficient. Bzzt launched its service in pilot scale in 2015 and is now set to launch in Stockholm this spring.
Here follows an interview with the co-fouder and Product Director, Örjan Jansson:
Örjan, please tell us how Bzzt started.
- It was our CEO Sven Wolf that 3 years ago started to see the opportunities with UEVs (Ultralight Electrical Vehicles). So he asked his friends Per Nyrenius and me if we were interested in trying to create something big, relevant and fun out of it. We were all looking for developing something new within sustainability and cleantech so this was a good timing. We started out with creating a pilot project with Lerum municipality to find out the possible savings in cost and emissions if it would start using UEVs. This financed a few vehicles for us and we continued to work with Bzzt on spare time until a few months ago when we got our first investors. We have had the service going in Gothenburg for two seasons now and made about 3000 trips which have been great for trying, learning and tweaking - we love learning by trying!
What’s the business opportunity that you are trying to unravel with your product?
- We see this need for simple and cheap SHORT distance point-to-point transport in almost all cities in the World. And there is no really feasible alternative today: Taxis are too expensive, Public transport is inconvenient, your own car is inconvenient as you need to search for parking and walking takes too long time. And for a growing number the emission free travel is really important.
What’s the core in your product, is it the pod itself, the service or the app?
- I would say that it is the service right now. It may change further along the line. As a start-up we make sure to stay flexible until we find the the best track for us.
How do you make the service scalable?
- Basically we are designing a successful service, and that can always be multiplied. But to scale as exponentially as possible we are looking at a mix of crowd funded subsidiaries and franchising for expansion. Regarding ”owning" assets like drivers and vehicles we are trying to find the best balance in scalability vs control/quality.
Traditional taxi service has been challenged by Uber and its app service. How will Bzzt compete with Uber and taxi?
- Well, we will not really compete head to head, rather be complementary to all existing ways of intra-city traveling. The Bzzt service opens up for convenient short distance trips where most people do not chose an Uber or a taxi today as the starting fee is too high. There will of course be some overlap at distances from 4 km and upwards but that will be a minor part of the volume. But then there are a number of differences which we believe makes Bzzt! a better choice - our pods consumes a tenth of the energy of an ordinary car and have zero emissions. Our drivers have collective agreement. Our Stockholm subsidiary will be partly ”crowd-owned” (through crowd funding) so everyone can be an owner of this service and help make it big and well suited for Stockholm. Our app will be beautifully simple! The pod ride will be kind of a special experience with the open sides when the weather allows it (otherwise we have closed sides). We think and hope that our customers find the service smart and fun.
The price is very low, I guess you are aiming for volume. How will you ensure profit? And especially in Sweden where cold and snowy winter eat half of the year?
- Yes, this is a top challenge. Of course we will need a certain volume but the best way to maintain a low price is to have low costs. That is the beauty with very lean vehicles. Also we will optimize our resources very well by a sophisticated fleet management system that we develop. Adding to that we chose to use advertising revenues to keep the prices as low as possible for the customers.
Swedish people are tough. But just to be sure we will improve our pods so they will be warm and cosy enough for the 2-5 minute drivers that most customers will make even in the cold winter.
What’s your expansion plan?
- Ambitious :-) Since the need is more or less the same in thousands of cities in the World we want to go to them fast. In some smart order.
Thanks Örjan and good luck launching the Pod in Stockholm! I will for sure use the pod in town.