Mina Nada has a background in law, starting his career as a paralegal in London, Frankfurt, and Sydney. In 2012, he co-founded his first business, INCUBATE, Australia’s leading NFP startup accelerator, and entrepreneur program, before stepping into a consultant role at Bain & Company, where he met and worked alongside his current Zoomo co-founder, Michael Johnson.
Zoomo is the world’s leader for utility e-bikes and aftermarket servicing, built on the experience of thousands of riders around the world.
Engineered in Australia and operating across the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, their bikes are built for durability & performance. Their flexible subscription services allow 1000s of riders around the world to access the best vehicles.
Their mission is to sustainably transition billions of urban delivery miles from bikes, cars, and trucks to light electric vehicles.
In an exclusive interview with AsiaTechDaily, Mina says:
The best advice I’ve received was not to be afraid to take risks and back myself. The advice I would give to someone who’s starting their own business is to play the long game. You may not see results immediately, but if you back your idea and trust your gut that it’s a good business proposition, you may soon see the results you were aiming for.
One of the most common mistakes I see founders make is the strive for absolute perfection and not being comfortable with taking an unpolished product to market. While it can be a risk, it can also reap plenty of rewards if you’re willing to listen to market feedback and implement changes accordingly.
Read on to know more about Mina Nada and his journey.
What motivated you to get started with your company?
Mina Nada: It was at Deliveroo, where I identified a gap in the delivery market when it came to the transportation methods that drivers were using. While delivery drivers were already utilizing the e-bikes available to them on the market as it was faster and you didn’t need a license to ride an e-bike, these were often expensive to purchase. Most delivery drivers average six months on the job, so investing thousands of dollars on an e-bike was not really feasible for many people.
Zoomo’s rental options became a great alternative option. Michael and I started the company (formerly called Bolt Bikes) as a side hustle in 2017 while I was working at Mobike, but we quickly realized that we were building a micro-mobility business that would have a big impact. There are lots of bike companies, a handful of bike rental companies, and lots of scooter-sharing companies. But no one was offering what we were — an e-bike platform that included servicing alongside the vehicle.
Three years later, Zoomo is now available in Australia, the US, and the UK and is helping people around the world move reliably from A to B.
What is your current main product, and can you share any previous product pivot story to the current product?
Mina Nada: We currently have five different Zoomo models — the Lite, MTB, Classic, Ranger, and Zero — available for rent or to purchase outright.
When we started, we realized that the market didn’t have e-bikes specific for couriers, so we started working with several partners in the e-bike supply chain across Europe, Asia, and North America, to develop low-cost but high-tech e-bikes to suit our customers’ needs.
While we started off with a focus on providing a best-in-class micro-mobility option for couriers, in 2020, we have expanded our offering to consumers and corporates.
How much money have you raised in total so far? When was the recent funding round?
Mina Nada: We have raised AU$20M (USD$15.$) in total. In August, we announced our Series A combined equity and debt capital raise of AU$16m, led by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC). Hana Ventures and existing investors Maniv Mobility and Contrarian Ventures, together with venture debt from OneVentures and Viola Credit, completed the capital raise.
What were the internal decision processes in determining when to begin fundraising, and what were the logistics for this? And how many investors have you met so far, and how did you meet these investors, and which channels worked best for you?
As the business grew and turned from side hustle to our full-time focus, Michael and I knew that we needed to add more bikes. To do so, we needed more funds to help us meet the demand we were experiencing.
At first, we started fundraising to support our expected growth forecast. Our network helped introduce us to VCs that we wanted to get in front of, and we found this to be the best way to reach the right investors.
Earlier this year, I was speaking at a CleanTech Forum event in San Francisco in January, which the CEFC was attending. Following the event, I reached out to them on LinkedIn for a chat, and we met in person for the first time in March back in Sydney.
What are the biggest challenges and obstacles that you have faced in the process of fundraising? If you had to start over, what would you do differently?
Mina Nada: The pandemic this year has made the fundraising environment more challenging. Investors have been more risk-averse and even more rigorous than they usually are. In fact, some preferred to stop and wait to see what in the world was going on, but investors are still open to excellent opportunities and businesses that make sense.
If I had to start over, I would spend more time articulating Zoomo’s 5-7 year vision, not just our 1-2 year vision.
What are your milestones for the next round? And what are your goals for the future?
Mina Nada: With our current funding, we will develop our products, hire more people, expand our services in Melbourne and Brisbane, and launch our first shop in Los Angeles.
We’re growing very rapidly (close to 100 people now) and see opportunities not only with couriers but also with large corporate clients and consumers. Watch this space for more announcements on those other fronts.
How have you attracted users, and with what strategy have you grown your company from the start to now?
Mina Nada: We use a combination of marketing strategies, including paid social media and branding on our bikes. However, word-of-mouth referral from happy customers to their rider community has helped attract many new users, a testament to the quality service that we offer, such as in store services as well as roadside assistance.
Which has been the best marketing software tool for the growth of your startup, and why?
Mina Nada: The best software tool we have is Hubspot, which acts as our CRM and has allowed us to automate our key marketing processes. Targeted paid media and search marketing are also helping us to generate leads for our CRM.
What do most startups get wrong about marketing in general?
Mina Nada: I would say the balance between short and long-term strategy. It’s important to get the balance right between converting customers and growing awareness to ensure a healthy funnel that can fuel growth and be flexible with strategy pivots.
How do you plan to expand globally?
Mina Nada: Zoomo currently has operations in Australia, the US, and the UK. We know that our biggest opportunity lies overseas, with more than 50% of our revenue coming from our international operations, despite the business being very new in both countries. Through hiring strong, on-the-ground General Managers that can help us localize the product for each market, we have been able to supercharge our growth internationally.
What are the most common mistakes companies make with global expansion?
Mina Nada: The most common mistake is copying and pasting what they are doing in their home country to a new market without appropriate research and localization.
How do you handle this COVID-19 outbreak situation for your company’s survival in the future?
Mina Nada: Despite being headquartered in Sydney, we’ve been able to prove our naysayers wrong when it comes to the growth of the company, even during a pandemic. Over the last 6 months, we’ve had to cancel all our travel plans but have still managed to scale our international operations at the fastest pace ever. You just have to sleep a little less.
What are the most common mistakes founders make when they start a company?
Mina Nada: One of the most common mistakes I see founders make is the strive for absolute perfection and not being comfortable with taking an unpolished product to market. While it can be a risk, it can also reap plenty of rewards if you’re willing to listen to market feedback and implement changes accordingly.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? And What advice do you have for someone who is interested in doing similar things like yours or in a similar direction?
Mina Nada: The best advice I’ve received was not to be afraid to take risks and back myself. The advice I would give to someone who’s starting their own business is to play the long game. You may not see results immediately, but if you back your idea and trust your gut that it’s a good business proposition, you may soon see the results you were aiming for.
What are the top-three books or movies (TV series) that changed your life and why?
- The Bible – Provides perspective and values
- 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Gives you approaches on how to get things done
- How to Win Friends and Influence People – Articulates everything you always knew but didn’t realize you knew about human interactions
How do you keep yourself motivated every day?
Mina Nada: I have a daily routine of prayer, meditation, and exercise. Keeping my social networks close, even when I’m busy. Above all – focus on the positives.
What are the top three life lessons that you want your (future) sons and daughters to know?
Mina Nada: I would provide the same advice that I have received and give to others in the business. Advice like this is not only relevant in a business setting but can be taken on board in any setting.
What would you like to be remembered for?
Mina Nada: I would like to be remembered for making the world a better place.
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