In a groundbreaking development for the electric micro-mobility industry, ENVO Drive Systems recently acquired Veemo, an innovative, enclosed electric trike. To delve deeper into this exciting acquisition, we sat down with Ali Kazemkhani, the CEO and Founder of ENVO Drive Systems. Ali shared his insights on the future of Veemo, its alignment with ENVO’s strategic vision, and what this means for the industry at large.
Congratulations on the acquisition of Veemo! Could you share with us the rationale behind acquiring the company and how it aligns with the ENVO vision in the electric mobility industry?
Ali: "We believe that the world needs a product like this. Just because every attempt to bring this product to realization has failed so far doesn't mean that the world doesn't need this product."
Veemo was previously bankrupt. What potential do you see in the Veemo product that made it an attractive investment for your company?
Ali: "Three or four years ago, we started a project at ENVO called 'Velo Mobile'. In that project, we have been working on features and specifications of a product that can address all deficiencies of the products and projects that have already been accomplished in the world. These are things like the desirability of the product, size, weight, premiumness, quality of ride, noise, safety, transportability, and after-sales services. We have collected good information and established a good baseline to develop the desirable product, yet we are a couple of years behind the delivery of that product. Veemo, on the other hand, has been one of the best projects and products in this field, considered a minimum viable product. Veemo is the result of a good teamwork of top-of-the-line engineers and 10 years of experimental research and development. It's well-developed in weight, stability, and ergonomics and is also a good-looking product. Reading the news of Velo Metro's bankruptcy wasn't good news for the planet or for ENVO. We at ENVO believed that we might be able to solve the problems that the former managers of the Velo Metro company had been experiencing in delivering this product to the market. So, we prepared an acquisition proposal for the creditors of the company."
How do you envision integrating Veemo into ENVO existing electric mobility offerings?
Ali: "Veemo is a good brand and it has very good PR history, so we will try to maintain all the values of Veemo when we integrate it into ENVO. The concept of ENVO as a weather-protected electrically assisted tricycle is a novel concept which doesn't have a long history or naming literature. The most known name for this category of product is 'velomobile', which doesn't cover all aspects of this product. Hence, we believe 'Veemo' could be a good representative of the product name. So, we will be calling this 'ENVO Veemo' or 'Veemo by ENVO'. This will be a new product category in ENVO's portfolio from now on and we will not have any other product offering in this section unless it's an update to the existing product."
What steps have been taken to revitalize the Veemo brand and regain customer trust after its bankruptcy?
Ali: "At the earliest stages, we don't plan to do a lot in marketing beyond press releases and announcements. We believe there are enthusiasts and potential customers who have been expecting this product for long and our focus will be on delivering our promises. Our happy early-stage customers would be our ambassadors and our best marketing strategy to dominate this niche market segment."
Can you provide some insights into the improvements or innovations that will be introduced in the Veemo product line under your company's ownership?
Ali: "Veemo is an innovative product by nature and at this point, our primary focus is on making mass production and distribution feasible and affordable while maintaining high quality and product premiumness."
What are the key target markets or customer segments that you aim to serve with Veemo?
Ali: "Users of this product might be anyone from an urban commuter who wants to keep cycling through the year regardless of the weather condition, environmentally conscious people, cycling enthusiasts with balancing issues, all the way to recreational tourism or delivery fleets. The most challenge would not be competition because there is not much competition out there but the correct positioning of the product in the market, the right perception of the vehicle, and participating in regulation development in different areas."
With the acquisition of Veemo, what additional resources or support will be provided to accelerate its product development, production, and distribution?
Ali:"At this point, we haven't assigned any external resources or support for bringing this product to life other than ENVO's internal resources. We know that this product has received a decent amount of governmental support and investment to get to this level of development and we'll try to convince relevant parties to further support ENVO on this mission."
Are there any plans to expand the Veemo product line beyond its current offerings?
Ali: "There is a lot of unknowns and uncertainties about the use cases and applications of a product such as Veemo. As I noted before, at this point we will be focusing on product realization, production, and commercialization of the concept. We will have the chance to learn from the market expectations regarding future products or features to be added to the line."
What are the immediate goals and timelines for relaunching Veemo?
Ali: "At the very beginning, we need to re-engineer parts of the product to facilitate production towards making a high-quality and affordable product. We're currently busy completing the roadmap and planning, but we're aiming to deliver the product to the market by early summer 2024."
How will the acquisition of Veemo contribute to your overall business growth and profitability?
Ali: "ENVO's mission is to bring diversity and versatility into micro-electric mobility and Veemo is a perfect addition to the portfolio and will definitely add value to ENVO's business and growth."
How do you envision the integration of Veemo with your existing customer support, maintenance, and charging infrastructure?
Ali: "Veemo will benefit from the existing infrastructures at ENVO, from engineering, supply chain, manufacturing, quality control, distribution, marketing, sales, to customer service."
Are there any plans for international expansion or entering new markets with the Veemo product?
Ali: "Veemo is not a unique concept but definitely will be a unicorn product if commercially offered to the market. So, ENVO would consider all market opportunities and currently, we are trying to find solutions for cost-effective ways of transporting Veemos to different international destinations while reviewing import and usage regulations in different countries."
We have seen most businesses who attempted a similar product in the past have gone bankrupt. How do you ensure ENVO's success in this mission?
Ali: "We are confident about the vacancy and demand for this product. In all of the past attempts including Elf (Organic Transit), Biohybrid, Podbike, or Veemo, there were enthusiastic buyers expecting their products when bankruptcy was announced. We believe the concept isn't the reason for failure but rather the business plans. Micro-electric mobility has an absolutely different market structure and dynamics compared to the automotive or even the bike industry. It is and will be about multiple and various niche markets segments. To launch successfully and maintain a market segment, you need to have a well thought out business model with a success path through low quantity offering. The cause of failure for past attempts has been overestimation of the initial market size and high cost of development and production. ENVO's plan is to manage the engineering and manufacturing processes in a way that keeps the initial investment and fixed costs low, allowing us to have a breakeven at lower quantities. Utilizing the company's existing infrastructure in engineering, production, supply chain, sales, after-sales, marketing, and administration supports the project to go lean and financially viable. This is the method ENVO has chosen 'to be the preferred choice of electric mobility for a greener future of our planet,' which is our company's vision statement."This acquisition marks an exciting new chapter for ENVO Drive Systems. With their innovative approach and commitment to sustainability, ENVO is poised to redefine the landscape of the micro-electric mobility industry and deliver on their vision for a greener future.