Neuron Mobility is a hot mobility startup from Singapore that goes beyond sharing bikes: it lets people share e-scooters! While the bike-sharing market is getting slowly saturated in various Asian cities, sharing electric scooters turns this industry upside down.
Neuron recently expanded to Chiang Mai, Thailand, its first overseas market and we had a chat with Neuron Mobility co-founder and CEO Zachary Wang, a serial entrepreneur from Singapore.
Disrupting Asia: Hi Zachary, thank you very much for taking the time. Just a few days ago I saw someone in a local Facebook group posting pics of riding a Neuron scooter here in Chiang Mai while mentioning that Neuron just expanded to Chiang Mai. I thought right away that this is a pretty amazing idea and reached out to you. What inspired you to start Neuron?
Zachary Wang: I have a background in automotive engineering and spend some time in Europe a few years ago. The bike sharing industry was just on the rise there with a few interesting startups like Vélib’ in Paris. I had the original idea about eight years ago but only started to realize it in 2016. Mainly because the necessary technology like 3G and smartphones are now everywhere available.
DA: The Neuron e-scooter is perfect to get around Chiang Mai. Why did you choose to come here?
Zachary: We strategically chose to set up an office in Chiang Mai now since it’s just before the high season here. Also, Chiang Mai offers great conditions for our customers and scooters, making it easy to ride around the Old Town.
DA: Besides Chiang Mai are you currently elsewhere available except Singapore?
Zachary: Chiang Mai is our first overseas expansion with a few more markets like China and Malaysia to come over the next weeks and months.
DA: How does Neuron work? Does one have to drive between the docking stations?
Zachary: We currently have only docking stations in Singapore, not yet in Chiang Mai. You can download the app from the app store, scan the code and get started. Our scooters are currently available at hotels around the Old Town of Chiang Mai.
Another great feature we’re offering is a ‘Temporary Stop’ – which allows you to leave the scooter at one place for some time and pick it up later again without worrying about anyone taking it.
DA: How long does a fully charged scooter last?
Zachary: A fully charged scooter lasts approx. 40km. We noticed that most customers use the scooter for distances between 1-3km.
DA: As CEO and co-founder, what struggles have you had to overcome, especially when you just started Neuron?
Zachary: There are always struggles to overcome, almost every day. One of the biggest struggles we had was that we were simply to focus on the technology aspect at first rather than focusing on the whole picture. The best way to overcome struggles is to learn as you go.
DA: Let’s talk about being an entrepreneur in Singapore, especially someone with a startup: how is it usually perceived by family, parents, etc.?
Zachary: Nowadays more and more people understand what a startup is as success stories from unicorns like Grab or Go-Jek from around the region making its way to Singapore. People, especially parents and families, are now way more open to startups and entrepreneurship than just a couple of years ago.
DA: How is the startup ecosystem in Singapore like?
Zachary: As a technology startup in Singapore we now have most of the resources we need here. But the startup ecosystem is still fairly new here, only about 5-6 years. More and more companies, VCs, etc. are now expanding to Singapore, hence startups have better resources to start and grow their businesses.
DA: How does a typical day of yours look like?
Zachary: We are at the moment pretty much expanding our operations and hiring almost every day new team members. We just expanded to Chiang Mai and setting up offices in other countries as well. As this industry is also pretty capital intensive I’m constantly looking for fundraising options.
DA: Do you believe in work/life balance?
Zachary: No (laughing).
DA: What’s the one advice you would give to people that want to start their own business?
Zachary: Go do it! The best way to get a feel for a running a startup is joining one.
DA: Zachary, thank you very much for taking your time!