Listen on Spotify, Apple and Your Favorite Podcast Platforms: http://bit.ly/LowGravity1
On this episode of Low Gravity Jonathan Calmus speaks with Ionathan Galeano, the Business Development Director of Here Mobility for LATAM. Jonathan has lived and worked in Israel for the last 15 years. His unique perspective bridging the strongest tech scene in the world with one of the fastest emerging regions of the world gives insights into the direction of micro-mobility and tech based transit in general.
To learn more about Ionathan check out his Linkedin.
To learn more about Here Mobility.
Low Gravity 2: A Cosmic Podcast
Jonathan Calmus: Hello. Hello, this is Jonathan Calmus, your host of Low Gravity, a Micro Mobility Podcast brought to you by Cosmic. I’m sitting here with the great Ionathan Galeano. He is the Business Development Manager for Latam for Here Mobility. I had the pleasure of meeting you last year in Israel actually, right?
Ionathan Galeano: Yes. Indeed.
Jonathan Calmus: Kind of a funny story. How did you end up in Israel and how did that help you actually do business with Micro Mobility here in Latin America?
Ionathan Galeano: Whoa, fantastic. So first of all, thank you for the invitation of the podcast
Jonathan Calmus: I forced you into it.
Ionathan Galeano: Especially because we get to do it in Colombia, which is a place that we both love. Yeah, it’s fantastic and we are now sitting in Bogota.
Jonathan Calmus: True, true.
Ionathan Galeano: So just to summarize a story that maybe we told you over a couple of hours. But basically I left Columbia over twelve years ago. I did my first degree in the States and then I did my masters in Tel Aviv University. And that’s basically one of the main reasons together with my wife now, back then we were dating, had led me to immigrate to Israel.
Jonathan Calmus: Nice.
Ionathan Galeano: I did my master’s over there and when I was finishing the last two months of my degree, I got a job offer from a Consultancy Company that basically does or helps start-ups enter Latin America. Build them anything from translations to meetings to be that government relations.
And so I jumped into this Consultancy Company. And very quickly we realized that there’s a big or a massive potential in our tech interchange between Israel and Latin America. Especially Columbia or let’s say, especially for myself as a Colombian looking into Columbia. And very fastly, I ended up by doing some projects with defence and then with science and then with some Agro. And the last job that I had before joining Here Mobility was with Telemedicine or remote monitoring of patients for an Israeli company also here…
Jonathan Calmus: Trying to do business in Latin America, very nice.
Ionathan Galeano: In Latin America we actually did quite well—business we executed several projects of national network of Telemedicine. And then I received a call for Here Mobility, it was almost two years ago. Telling me basically this is the concept, we’re a new marketplace, a new business unit of your technologies and they like my profile to also lead or help the strategy in Latin American. I joined almost two years ago Here Mobility as the Business Development Manager. Initially for Latin American. Now all of the projects that we’ve been doing took me to focus specifically into Columbia.
Jonathan Calmus: Into Colombia specifically? It’s a really interesting position I would say you’re in. Israel being the world leader in tech in general, where every country around the world is trying to acquire what Israel actually creates. And then on the other side, Latin America, which is such a heavy emerging market and the typical strategy out of Latin America was always, let’s go copy what the Gringo are doing. And now it’s actually starting to change. A lot of innovation is starting and the fresh ideas are actually emerging out of Latin America because of the change of culture. I mean, Postmates exists in the U S there’s a bunch of these Last Mile delivery companies. But what Rappi is doing in Latin America is unique simply because of the workforce. I mean, in the States we can’t pull off what Rappi can pull off here.
You’ll buy a smoothie from a McDonald’s or something in the United States, you’ll spend more on the cost of delivery than the actual product that you purchase.
Ionathan Galeano: Very possible.
Jonathan Calmus: And it’s a very typical thing. So being a kind of hybrid, Latin, Israeli Western, and you have all of this mix. What are your observations? You’ve seen the entire world of Micro Mobility so far. What are your observations on the industry? Which countries and cities are doing it right? Where do you think has space for improvement?
Ionathan Galeano: So I think that for any guy involved in the industry 2019 was kind of like a very, very, very shaky and unexpected and kind of very fast paced year.
Jonathan Calmus: Yeah.
Ionathan Galeano: Let’s say that I can share kind of my knowledge of what’s happening in Latin America, just not those who are to expand into other regions. But I mean so far we’ve seen. Lime announced over a month ago that they are ceasing operations. Today we woke up and we saw that, you know, Rappis’ Grin Button is no longer there. And there’s a lot of rumours, nothing that I can confirm because I have no— any inside information. But I’ve heard from the industry, you know, that Grin is struggling with their operations. When a year ago was just freshly Lime put full force into Latin America, Grin raised a heck load of money through not to expand in Latin America, the merge of Grin and Yellow and creation of Grow.
And now we see back what we probably saw when we met, which is the local players, which have, despite any predictions manage to find niche markets.
Jonathan Calmus: Stuck around somehow.
Ionathan Galeano: And, I don’t want to say make it profitable, but at least sustain their operations in a niche market. We see it with Moovel here in Columbia as well, and we see it definitely with Cosmic in all of the countries that you operate.
So I think that last year was the, I think the peak and the end of the craziness and the hype of Micro Mobility. I don’t believe to myself that we will see especially for Latam speaking any further massive rounds of investment into Micro Mobility Operators.
Jonathan Calmus: Into the one big fat player. Yeah.
Ionathan Galeano: Yeah. I do not believe so. I think that the industry, let’s say in 2020. When a year ago we were not pressed, we were watching this craziness with the Micro Mobility and in less than a year we saw Grin and Lime here in specifically in Columbia and all the other operators pour thousands of scooters and now you see them, slowly, slowly, slowly retreating back.
Jonathan Calmus: Retreating back.
Ionathan Galeano: And the key word, not only for Micro Mobility, but I think for the whole mobility area it’s revenue. I think that all of the VCs around the world and it is also something that we’ve seen in other industries, Softbank down, they’re looking now, the big ages of just endless pockets are over, in most of the industries.
So I think that finding a quick way to make your operations or any Micro Mobility Operator profitable is key to sustain or to remain in the market. And if you manage to actually find that niche and find that thing that can make your operations profitable I think that you might get more attention of the investors, which are more cautious than a year or two or three ago, but are still very curious of what the Micro Mobility can offer the cities.
Jonathan Calmus: Yeah, I think so too. This is —we talk about this a lot, but this seems to be—- 2020 seems to be like, the year of the Micro, Micro Operator. The localized operator who has a stronger understanding of what their market is. I think one of the biggest difficulties in that model, is specifically seasonality. One of the big benefits that the macro operators were talking about is that when it’s raining in Bogota, we’re okay because we’re also in Medellin for example. And so really understanding all the different variables that go into affecting unit economics or profitability as you’re putting it become really, really important and it becomes really hard to learn all of that from scratch. Most Micro Operators are not entering with macro ambitions. They’re entering because it’s a really exciting industry and it’s fun and it’s something that you can actually get inspired about.
It’s not every business you can get inspired about.
However, that lack of knowledge is part of the reason why Cosmic exists in the first place, is we’re trying to bridge the gap between the ambition and the reality of the situation, which is exactly what you’re talking about. I don’t think it’s bad news that these monster players are aggressive at all for the industry.
I think that it’s just the typical Silicon Valley. Even though Grin is from Mexico, it’s the typical Silicon Valley story. Where you grow really, really fast and you position yourself to basically, how would I put this? You exist at scale because you exist at scale, not because your business needs the scale.
Ionathan Galeano: Sure.
Jonathan Calmus: So you’re investing so much in growth and so much in just blanketing the cities in scooters and maybe you try some performance marketing, etc. That by the time you’ve actually learned the lesson, you’ve already burned through tens of millions of dollars. And I don’t think that’s necessarily reflective on Micro Mobility as much as it’s reflective on the typical Silicon Valley story, that we all live.
Ionathan Galeano: Correct. And I believe that, for that in following your ideas, which I agree on for 2020 I think that the same way that you’ve proven. We know with the Cosmic Model that, what we spoke before, finding a niche market and making it profitable is the way to go, even if you don’t necessarily have to grow at the massive scale that owes our conclusions for Here mobility.
We saw, very, very, very, let’s say intense in the good sense of the conversation discussions or collaboration agreements with many Micro Mobility players in Latin America and around the world. Where their position a year ago was pretty dominant and not very into the aggregator model. And then having most of them, if not all of them reaching back to us and saying, not only from that but also from Fintech or whatever. Going back and saying, okay, listen we might have. And we see those on the Ride Hailing and we see those on the Taxi Industry as you know, from a multimodal perspective. That basically all of the operators of different mode of transportations are coming back and saying, we’re better off just focusing on our core business, which is just call it the hardware or call it the taxi or call it the service car.
Jonathan Calmus: The accessibility to the inventory. Basically that’s their business.
Ionathan Galeano: And let’s leave the technological intermediation between a user and a provider to all the tools, to our ecosystem, to a joint effort to partnerships. So I think that’s definitely the way that Latam is going to start going, which is an open ecosystem of mobility as a service.
Jonathan Calmus: Which would be great because I think the problem with the dominant players, I’m not going to point fingers at anyone, but a lot of times from the Western world, people overlook who the dominant player is. And it’s not always the Uber’s of the world. A lot of times its traditional businesses that are the dominant players. So giving the access to a user who can actually get the response to the inventory in real time and to get access to wherever they need to go, whether it’s through TransMilenio which is the busing system here in Bogota, however they need to do it.
Ionathan Galeano: Any method of transportation.
Jonathan Calmus: Let’s take the last few minutes and just kind of explain what Here does and we’ll do a little bit of a shameless self-promotion.
Ionathan Galeano: Sure. So basically we’re Here Mobility, we’re creating for the past two and a half years, the first and most ravous marketplace that connect supply and demand. When we understand, the suppliers being those transportation companies in end of the methadone from Micro Mobility all the way to public transportation. We integrate with each one of them through different technologies that we have developed, different API. Each one of the methods and Micro Mobility, we use some technology for public transportation. We have another infrastructure for taxi systems. We integrate into the dispatch systems. And on the other hand we also bring on a B2B and a B2B to C also partnerships to bring businesses or the end users of those businesses Mobility offerings. So for that purpose, we’re working now with bank Columbia or Nikki, the Fintech of bank Columbia in putting all some mobility button within the app to offer all of the users of the bank or of Nikki mobility services.
Jonathan Calmus: So a Colombian resident or Panama as well, because Nikki is also in Panama. A resident of these countries will be able to go into their Fintech app which is the Niki app. Directly in there, there’s a button for Here Mobility which has access to this massive aggregated inventory.
Ionathan Galeano: Correct.
Jonathan Calmus: And essentially with one or two clicks, because they’ve already done all the registration, not only be able to pay for the service, but also actually request the service.
Ionathan Galeano: Correct.
Jonathan Calmus: It’s fantastic. It’s definitely the holy grail of mobility, but here is one of the companies that’s actually pulling it off. Every other day being in this space someone comes to me and goes, “wouldn’t it be a great idea if one app could call any Ride Sharing or one app could use any scooter?” And it’s fantastic, but it comes with some—the blocker is not a technical blocker. The blocker is an industry blocker.
Ionathan Galeano: Correct. Absolutely.
Jonathan Calmus: Well you guys are doing really amazing stuff. It’s great to see you here in Columbia.
Ionathan Galeano: Thank you. Likewise.
Jonathan Calmus: I have now seen you in two different countries.
Ionathan Galeano: Yeah. Many more.
Jonathan Calmus: I really appreciate your time. Yeah, I really, really appreciate your time. For more information on Here Mobility, go to mobility.here.com. And to check out Cosmic, go to cosmicgo.co.