Are you a mobility startup? No? Keep reading, because you might want to double-check that.
While flying cars, e-vehicle charging solutions, multi-modal sharing platforms and other more obviously ‘mobile’ technologies will probably always come to mind first when we think about the sector, there’s so much more to it. The presence of a ‘search company’ like Google certainly underlines the fact that pigeon-holing is a thing of the past in a space that needs so much tech it never thought about before.
Equally, if you’ve got a solution that works for mobility – cybersecurity, say – then chances are you’ve got a solution that works for a bunch of other stuff. It works both ways. Definitions are more fluid than ever: just look at LISNR.
One of our startup finalists of the first Mobility.Pioneers in 2017, LISNR is an ultrasonic data platform. It doesn’t scream ‘mobility’ at first glance, and indeed their technology does have a huge range of applications. But if our visitors from America hadn’t been open to seeing where it might fit into the ever-changing transport landscape, then they wouldn’t have embarked on their very first startup event in Europe. They wouldn’t have ended up winning our Connected Cars category. And they wouldn’t have made automotive contacts they’re still talking to almost two years later.
“We connected with partners at Porsche, Mercedes and VW Group at Mobility.Pioneers,” says Rodney Williams, LISNR’s Co-Founder and CCO. “And it was extremely helpful for us across a number of other industries. We’re still working with a lot of the partners that we met.”
But LISNR was never just about mobility. The potential applications for such high-speed and secure ultrasound data transmission had always been too broad for them to limit themselves. But what they’ve done since winning in Munich is to really fix down the problem they can solve: making transactions more reliable, fast and secure for merchants.
“We’re broader than mobility. It was always just one of the industries we were involved in. We are vertical- and system-agnostic, simply powering transaction moments. It’s really about empowering merchants to own the transaction moment more securely and seamlessly than ever before. We’ve learned that this is our core value proposition today.
“For us, a merchant is anyone that sells a good or service. There are mobility merchants, retail merchants, ecommerce merchants…it’s actually a pretty broad term, but they all have a transaction moment where sound can help make that experience more seamless and secure.”
With LISNR having worked since Mobility.Pioneers to define their offer better than ever, they can continue to work in a variety of industries effectively. The chances of getting distracted by a wide variety of use cases seem to be diminishing, so there’s less reason than ever for them to pigeonhole.
“While our tech has extremely widespread use across a number of different industries and verticals, our business is now more focussed,” says Williams. “The use case we are focussing on is laser sharp.
“We still work with auto manufacturers but we’re now focusing on the use case of the transaction moment. So instead of talking to the mobility manufacturer around entering the vehicle, we would probably talk more about how that vehicle could pay for parking or check out. Or rideshare, or fleet identification. These are all transaction moments in and around mobility.”
They’ve found a market opportunity that exists in a bunch of different worlds, in other words. And with the technical connections between the different spheres of our lives growing all the time, finding an offer that fits into a number of them is an opportunity every startup could look out for. When it can take time for the big rewards of collaboration to bear fruit, LISNR’s example makes a great deal of sense.
“For us mobility is very compelling and it’s still something we’re going after. But it is a longer sales cycle, especially if you’re going after auto manufacturers. For a startups it can take a significant amount of time for traction, adoption and being ready to go to market. So you have to be very sensitive to the time it could take, as you think about the strategy.”
LISNR were smart not to put every egg in the mobility (or any other) basket. And it’s really working, with Series C funding now close to being tied up and the team having grown to around 25 people.
“We continue to work with Jaguar Land Rover. We’re also starting to get a ton of traction with car share and ride share. There are a number of those in the US such as [taxi apps] Flywheel, RideYellow and a ton of other mobility-like customers that will be moving forward with our solution.”
And that’s just the good news in the mobility space. LISNR could have limited their work to just that, but doing so would have been narrow-minded. Equally they could just as easily have skipped mobility altogether! Makes you think, doesn’t it?
More than ever, is a time to really stop and consider your answer before you say who you are and what your company does…
Are you a mobility startup after all? There are only a few days left to apply for Mobility.Pioneers! Do it here by Sunday December 9th!