James Gross is a self-proclaimed Horace Dediu disciple and has long been fascinated by the concept of micromobility.
With a background as a software entrepreneur, he sold his company Percolate in 2018 and immediately travelled to meet Dediu in Copenhagen. His pitch – we can create a brand that brings the micromobility industry together and allows it to fulfil its immense potential.
Fast forward to 2023 and Micromobility Industries is fast approaching the start of its latest and biggest event yet, set to be held in Amsterdam on 8-9 June.
Micromobility Europe will have the essential business-to-business and policy focus but is also seeking to appeal to consumers more than ever before.
“When you tell people that there are going to be more than twice as many micromobility vehicles on the road as cars in the near future, they just don’t understand,” Gross tells Zag Daily. “I think it is wild that no-one really understands this.”
The inevitable rise of micromobility
To Gross, the rise of micromobility is something of an inevitability at this point. With the number of cars worldwide closing in on critical mass, he believes that the micromobility market is set to explode.
“The micromobility market could be 5 billion vehicles, more than twice as big as the car market,” he says.
“If you look at global e-bike sales, there has been a 20% compounding annual growth rate and that is forecasted to continue, while the market for e-scooters and other electric vehicles is also growing rapidly. Meanwhile, there are about 1.6 billion cars on the planet today, and we believe that number will only ever reach about 1.8 billion.”
However, for many consumers the work going on in the background has been hidden from view and the true extent of progress in the space remains a mystery.
Therefore, the goal of Micromobility Europe is to really open the sector up to the public, while encouraging as many people as possible to take a ride and change their perspective.
“Ultimately, the most important thing is what the customer wants,” says Gross.
“Everyone that I have talked to wants to see us taking this event to a level where consumers are involved. Our events can be vehicles for change, where the general public can go out and ride micromobility devices to shift how they see the world and how they feel.”
On to Amsterdam
Micromobility Europe is the biggest event that Micromobility Industries has ever put together, with three stages set to be in operation come next month.
These include the City Stage, which will focus on policy and the future in that space, the Ride Stage, which looks at the new vehicles that are changing the game, and the Start-up Stage, where 75 different companies will present.
“We want to invite people for a spectacle that reflects our industry,” Gross explains.
“Micromobility is about getting people mobile and out on the streets, so we are doing our best to find a way to get as many people as possible on the vehicles being showcased around the city of Amsterdam. We can make it fun and festive to celebrate that Amsterdam does this so well, while bringing thousands of people from around the world into this environment.”
To do this, the event’s organisers are inviting the general public to a Rave Ride event on the second day, where micromobility enthusiasts can ride alongside renowned DJ Dom Whiting while he performs.
“On his YouTube channel he tends to get people together in large European cities to host a bike rave, where they ride around the city and play loud music, and we are bringing that to our conference,” Gross says.
Ride Review, Ride On!
The move into consumer-facing activities is not just limited to events for Micromobility Industries. Over the past 12 months, Gross has overseen the creation of Ride Review, a website that catalogues all the micromobility products on the market, and Ride On! co-hosted with Julia Thayne, a YouTube show aimed at informing riders who are not necessarily plugged into the sector day-to-day.
“With Ride Review, we felt the consumer was underserved when buying an e-bike or an e-scooter, so we wanted to create this comprehensive resource,” he says. “The demand has been incredible – it is the best growth I have seen on any platform I have ever built.”
The Micromobility Podcast co-hosted by Oliver Bruce and Horace Dediu has been around for four years now and has seen real success with industry diehards and policymakers alike, but Ride On! was designed to serve a different audience.
“Ride On! is targeted at a consumer audience, but also has news about the industry, with talk about safety and upcoming policy change, things that consumers need to know about and probably don’t have much insight into,” Gross explains.
“We finish each episode with an interview of a vehicle manufacturer and then a giveaway. I suppose we want to become the Mr Beast of micromobility, and these giveaways of e-bikes or e-scooters worth up to $4,000 have brought in plenty of interest.”
What about AI?
Recent developments with artificial intelligence have dominated headlines to start 2023, but Gross feels the trend has not quite yet taken hold of micromobility, despite its immense potential to transform rider safety.
“I think this is the last time where 90% of the conversation on the City Stage won’t be around AI,” he says.
“I believe we need to have more conversations about how quickly we can get new cars to adopt the latest AI technologies that could prevent the 1.3 million road deaths a year. My hopeful take is that we might live in a world where computing can help us not kill each other on roads, and if that happens, the adoption curve for micromobility will explode, because safety is still the main reason that we don’t have adoption all over the world.”
Zag readers interested in attending the summit can secure a special 50% discount on tickets by using our discount link.