A startup born at MIT just got $16 million to build better hardware for bike and scooter sharing

  • Superpedestrian, a startup born out of MIT, has raised $US16.5 million in funding from top-tier venture capitalists.
  • Its most famous product is a smart bicycle wheel that helps the rider pedal with less effort.
  • Now it plans to sell its technology to bike-sharing and scooter-sharing companies to help them maintain their fleets.

An electric bicycle company out of Cambridge, Massachusetts is breaking into bike-sharing, one of the hottest new areas in tech and venture capital.

To do it, Superpedestrian has raised $US16.5 million in Series B funding from Spark Capital, General Catalyst, China Renaissance director Charles Kim, and Nest cofounder Tony Fadell.

Currently, Superpedestrian makes a product it calls the Copenhagen Wheel. The $US1500 wheel replaces a bicycle’s back wheel, and has lots of electronics built in so that it helps you bike faster with less effort. It’s also got a bunch of sensors installed so that the wheel can be more easily serviced and maintained.

59d5599c351ccf1f008b8540 1334 890SuperpedestrianThe Copenhagen Wheel.

Now, Superpedestrian wants to take those sensors and the software that powers them, and offer them to bikeshare and other urban mobility companies. According to Superpedestrian CEO Assaf Biderman, the company’s combination of software and hardware can reduce costs, increase uptime, and basically make the entire bike share business model more efficient.

“We’ve had this technology, we’ve invested a lot in it and we’ve been improving it continuously over almost four years,” Biderman told Business Insider. “All of a sudden at the end of last year the floodgates opened, and the whole industry is now getting into shared e-bikes. Bike sharing, ride hailing, all throughout the world – Europe, US, Asia – everybody is basically preparing now to invest in those fleets.”

SuperpedestrianSuperpedestrian co-founder and CEO Assaf Biderman.

Large fleets of shared vehicles are a growing trend. Right now, in San Francisco, several startups are leaving scooters everywhere. (Biderman said Superpedestrian technology would adapt to scooters easily.)

In China, bike-sharing has grown prodigiously. The space is heating up, too – just check out Uber’s $US200 million purchase of Jump, an electric bike startup.

But Superpedestrian doesn’t want to build an entire bike-sharing service – it wants to provide the hardware and software for those services.

“We saw a huge need for these technologies as the industry began to open and basically run toward owning these fleets,” Biderman said.

“The key of our offering is the brain of the bicycle itself. So it’s a self-diagnostic system that can basically make the bike learn what’s going on with it in real-time,” he continued.

Superpedestrian has taken $US44 million in total funding including previous rounds. Biderman declined to say what the latest round values Superpedestrian at, although he said it was an “up round,” meaning the value of the company continues to rise.

The company’s angel investors include actor Jared Leto and Tumblr founder David Karp, according to PitchBook data.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.