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“If operators are praised for offering ridiculous prices that are not sustainable, everybody loses”

Hoppy General Manager for Spain Roberto Cerero shares how some tenders are making shared mobility unsustainable, why they target smaller cities and how a focus on avoiding parking fines is helping Hoppy compete on the biggest stage.

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This interview is part of a Market Movers series powered by Zoba.

Name: Roberto Cerero

Position: General Manager for Spain at Hoppy, former Head of Operations. 

Hoppy operations: Present across 13 cities in Spain, Belgium, Greece and Germany, Hoppy operates a fleet of 2,000 e-scooters and e-bikes. This is set to expand to 5,000 vehicles in June. 

Background: Cerero ran Lime’s operations in Madrid and Latin America, before being drawn by the challenge of helping Belgian startup Hoppy compete on the biggest stage.  

Zag Daily: When considering where to expand, what do you look for in a new market? 

RC: “We look for smaller cities with high levels of tourism, that are not saturated in terms of competitors and that have more straightforward regulations for micromobility with a focus on safety.” 

Zag Daily: Can you share an example of an RFP that you wouldn’t apply for? 

RC: “We don’t like to apply for tenders where cities reward operators that offer the lowest prices to users, as we’ve found this creates a price war with companies offering fares that are impossible to maintain. Ultimately, we have to be able to build a profitable business and if operators are praised for offering ridiculous prices that are not sustainable, everyone loses.”

Zag Daily: With your existing operations, what are some of the key metrics you have your team focus on? 

RC: “There are a few that are a must in order to increase demand such as rides, uptime, new users and retention. 

“But another key indicator, which is often overlooked by operators, is the number of wrongly parked scooters, parking fines and impoundments. In Spain for instance, the main concern for cities is parking. They don’t want vehicles in every corner, disturbing pedestrians, so it’s very important to have an effective parking system. One too many fines and an operator can be kicked out of a city, so it’s a real threat.”

Zag Daily: What measures do you put in place to avoid being fined or having vehicles impounded?

RC: “The problem is that bad parking partially depends on the user. Even with parking spots and a geofencing system, GPS is never super accurate and users can still decide to park 1-3 metres away from where they should, so it’s up to the company to fight that behaviour.

“Some of our strategies are the regular ones followed by almost every company, such as making it mandatory for users to take a picture after the trip and having foot patrols move around cities to rebalance scooters. But we also invest in AI and other solutions, such as Bluetooth Parking Beacons placed in parking slots that cross data with scooters to double check they are in the right slot. And on top of that it is very important to let users very clearly know where and how they can park through in-app messaging.”

Zag Daily: Do you have a specific target that you set to manage e-scooter parking more effectively?

RC: “Less than 0.5% of vehicles should be hit by parking fines or impoundments per week. Anything over 2% will be costing operators a lot of money. But obviously this becomes more tricky the bigger the fleet size, and will depend as well on the resources of the operator. We are actually about to increase our fleet from 2,000 vehicles to 5,000+ vehicles starting in June, so we are currently using technology to enforce processes to avoid as many impoundments as possible.

“Most of the new vehicles we’ve ordered have an intelligent device that can autonomously detect parking spaces in real-time to give us more control, so this is really going to help us stay under the 0.5% threshold and help win new tenders.”

Zag Daily: Finally, what are Hoppy’s priorities for 2023?

RC: “The main priority is to grow in a sustainable, controlled way where our vehicles fit seamlessly into the transport mix with as few fines or complaints as possible. With our new scooter, its indicators, AI camera, and the added safety features we’re working on with other partners, we’re betting on safety as one of our main strengths to unlock new cities. Micromobility has absolutely proved it’s here to stay. Our job at Hoppy is to ensure all city dwellers, not just the bigger cities, have access to safe, green, flee-flowing streets, and easy access to reliable transportation.”