Here’s our exclusive one-on-one interview with Bird’s General Manager of Europe (Benelux and Nordics), Jonathan de Boer (aka Jon). We talked about Bird, the launch of its service in Luxembourg, and its new funding round.
by: Charles-Louis Machuron
featured: Jonatan de Boer
Why did you choose to launch in Luxembourg?
Luxembourg is a stunning city with an old city center. It is compact in how it is set up. We chose Luxembourg because we identified the city as one of the big European cities in need of an alternative. People who go in and out of Luxembourg city on a daily basis deserve a more seamless experience when it comes to regular commutes. If we can actually get some cars out of the city center and offer an alternative, we can make the city a better place. There isn’t an efficient alternative to convince people to leave their cars at home and we believe we can be that alternative.
You decided to focus on one particular district. Why?
A study of population and travel flows we carried out led us to prioritize launch in one of the city’s twenty-four districts: the Kirchberg business district. The city of Luxembourg has had its reservations on scooters in general. We wanted to do it right. We wanted to focus on using the data we have collected to improve the way we operate as well as show the city its micro mobility pain points.
We hope to start slowly but grow steadily. We want to offer our service to everyone in Luxembourg once we have established to residents and city officials that we are a decent player, that there is a demand and that we all can co-exist.
“The Bird Hunter will be in charge of the pick-up, dispatch, and maintenance of our scooters.”
You invented the roles of Chargers, Hunters and Watchers. What do they mean?
In some cities, we operate an independent Bird Charger network. We do not technically employ them. They are small entrepreneurs who are looking to make extra money by getting scooters off the streets. This enables us to easily scale in cities.
In Luxembourg, we have decided to work with a local entrepreneur who knows the city well and has prior experience with a similar product- essentially our own “Hunter.” The Hunter will be in charge of the pick-up, dispatch, and maintenance of our scooters. We will also have Bird Watchers in Luxembourg. Bird Watchers work for us. They go out on the streets during the day to ensure our e-scooters are in good shape and can carry out quick fixes, when required.
What will be the scooter model deployed in Luxembourg?
Bird One: It is by far our best product out there. It is safe, convenient, and comfortable to ride. We will limit them to 25 km/h.
You recently announced a new Series D funding round. Are you looking at becoming a global mobility operator?
Now, we are very much a scooter company focused on solving micro-mobility problems while maintaining profitability. With the new funding, we will continue innovating on our vehicles, building proper data platforms to support our launches, and continue investing in safety for our users who ride with us every day. I’m not saying that we will be operating cars or flying taxis but you never know what the future holds.
“We are looking forward to understanding how commuters use Bird in Lux City for work and leisure!”
There are plenty of competitors in the market. How do you ensure you are in the lead?
We focus on quality: quality of the relationship we have with the city, quality in the way we provide the service to our customers, and quality of the vehicle itself. We keep focusing on what matters the most.
Where else has your service worked well?
Antwerp. In Antwerp, we will be celebrating our one year anniversary this week. The number of complaints has been low and the city is excited about the way we work together. We are constantly thinking about how we can grow together in the city. For instance, we built a parking space with painted lines in front of the entrance of the train station to park scooters. People love it!
We are thrilled about our new launch and looking forward to understanding how commuters use Bird in Lux City for work and leisure!