Italy is in many ways the perfect breeding ground for micromobility. It has warm weather, a public willingness to create dedicated infrastructure like cycle lanes and a consistent influx of tourists year-round.
So when Bird launched the first shared e-scooters in 2017, Gianmaria Crivellente – then a Business Analyst and Economics student – felt inspired enough to start his own family-run shared scheme too.
Now Bit Mobility’s Co-Founder and CEO, Crivellente runs almost 9,000 e-scooters and e-mopeds in more than 25 Italian cities, competing on the biggest stage with the likes of Lime, Bird, Dott, Tier and Helbiz.
Zag Daily: How did your family business take off?
GC: “Bit Mobility was born in 2019 in Verona. We are a family company, it’s me, my father and my two sisters. When I lived in Milan in 2018 as a Business Analyst, I could see all these bike, car and moped sharing schemes, but nothing for e-scooters. Given all the private e-scooters on the streets, I thought it would be a great idea to start an e-scooter sharing scheme too. I explained the idea to my father, who is an entrepreneur in the amusement and gambling industry, he liked it, and here we are today.”
Zag Daily: How does your family divide the work?
GC: “At the beginning I had to wear many hats, from operational to financial to marketing, and since I studied Economics, I have a 360 degree background. One of my sisters is a lawyer and helps us on the legal side, and the other knows about marketing. My father is responsible for the governance and the financial side.”
Zag Daily: Given all the operators in Italy, what do you think gives you a competitive edge?
GC: “Most of the major e-scooter operators are in Italy so it is very competitive. But having grown up here, we know our country, where to invest and we have the best technology.
“Among the different regions, there are very different requirements for shared operators and because we are a smaller company, we have the flexibility to adapt and tailor what each administration wants. There is also a lot of bureaucracy, which is not that easy for the big operators.”
Zag Daily: How do you negotiate this bureaucracy?
GC: “We have a public affairs department that maintains our relationship with the administrations and keeps us informed about all the changes in the regulations, which have been many. Two people work in this department and they keep an eye on tender announcements and work to gather as much information as possible before a tender is released. Once the tender is out, we study it and we make our proposals.”
Zag Daily: Circling back, you said you have the best technology. What supplier do you use for your e-scooters?
GC: “We use Segway. We started off with another supplier, but then switched to Segway just over a year ago because we think they are the best in the market. We saw that Segway had been making many improvements to its vehicles, and this has become very important when trying to win tenders to operate, as we need to consistently show how we are enhancing road safety. Segway’s features allow us to have more control of the usage of our fleet, to monitor customers more closely, give them advice, and in some cases even stop the vehicle if someone rides on a sidewalk, for example.
“The camera at the front of the e-scooter can identify reckless riding behaviour and send voice prompts to alert the user. This also works to detect bike lanes, parking spots, and whether people are in front of the e-scooter. Essentially, the administration wants order and these features allow us to reach that level of control, which is very important in future tenders.”
Zag Daily: Are you using Segway’s newest S90L e-scooter?
GC: “Yes, we are actually the first operator in Europe to have the S90L. We ordered 500 of them for our Bergamo operation, which we recently won the tender for, and have just ordered another 500 for Bari. Some big tenders in Milan and Pisa are also coming up soon and so we are in a great position.”
Zag Daily: Finally, are you launching any exciting new features or expanding your portfolio in 2023?
GC: “This year, one of our big focuses is on our B2B operations, which is split into two different areas. One is offering our service to hotels which can sign on with us and have their own little fleet, including our software and maintenance. The other is for more corporate companies who want to give their employees a greener way to get to work.
“2023 is going to be a great year for us as our homegrown knowledge, strong platform and state-of-the-art e-scooters have given us the winning formula.”