November 11, 2019 / 12:01 AM / 8 days ago

Swedish electric scooter sharing firm VOI raises $85 mln to expand in Europe

STOCKHOLM, Nov 11 (Reuters) - Electric scooter sharing firm VOI Technology has raised $85 million from new and existing investors to fund its European expansion and increase focus on profitability, it said on Monday.

The funding round, led by Vostok New Ventures and including Spotify backer Creandum and Balderton Capital, takes the Swedish company’s total funding to $135 million since 2018.

The new funds will be used for research and development to improve VOI’s technology platform and to launch a next generation of vehicles, VOI said in a statement.

It declined to comment on the valuation of the company.

Several high-profile investors are betting scooter-sharing will rise rapidly in Europe thanks to large commuter populations and lower levels of car ownership than in the United States.

CEO Fredrik Hjelm said VOI would grow by “thousands of percent” this year, from sales of around 15 million crowns ($1.6 million) in 2018, with yearly growth probably slowing to hundreds of percent after that.

“In one and a half years we have entered 11 countries and 40 cities. From next year we will focus more on profitability,” he told Reuters, adding he still expects the firm to be cash-flow positive in 2021 or 2022.

VOI entered Germany this year, and hopes to add big markets such as the Netherlands and United Kingdom next year or the year after, Hjelm said.

Since its 2018 launch, VOI, whose competitors include Circ, Tier, Lime and Bird, has built up more than 4 million registered users and recorded more than 14 million rides.

A dozen electric scooter companies have received more than $1.5 billion in investments in total, according to a report issued this year by Boston Consulting Group.

California-based Bird said last month it had raised $275 million in a funding round, valuing it at $2.5 billion before the investment.

$1 = 9.6154 Swedish crowns Reporting by Helena Soderpalm

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