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Interviewing the CEO of UCD-Based Zipp Mobility After €300,000 Investment Round

Irish e-scooter start-up Zipp Mobility recently closed an investment round of €300,000 to support their efforts of expansion into the UK market. Following a relaxing of the regulations governing e-scooters in the UK, Zipp Mobility hopes to leverage this opportunity in a bid to be an early entrant into the promising and potentially lucrative UK market. Charlie Gleeson, Founder and CEO of the company, spoke to the College Tribune on the successful investment, which was led by a London-based Venture Capital firm and private angel investors. 

Charlie, whose team is habitually housed in NovaUCD, plans to use the funding round to hire talent both in Ireland and in the UK in order to ease entry into the market. In light of the ongoing global health pandemic, Zipp staff have been working remotely, although the team strives to get together for meetings and regular catch-ups in a make-shift office in a hotel room when possible. “It’s very hard to get company culture across online”, Charlie told the College Tribune. For that reason, “it’s good for as many people that can to come in, to get a feel of the place”. In recent weeks, Zipp has hired several additional staff members. 

Reflecting on the recent funding, Charlie takes it entirely in his stride, and in typical Irish fashion, downplays the accomplishment that this represents for any businessman, let alone a 24-year-old. “Ah, it was great yeah… it was a long time coming!”. Zipp had initially envisaged launching later this year in university campuses, but “just before we were launching on university campuses, some of the investors got cold feet”. Then came Covid-19, which further dampened the mood around launching in universities. However, it did motivate the progression of the archaic laws around the use of e-scooters in the UK. Once the governments witnessed the impacts of social distancing on public transport infrastructure and the uptake in the use of personal vehicles, an easing of laws around e-scooters was quickly adopted. “Once the UK legislation changed, we managed to raise the funds in the guts of three and a half weeks”, recalls Charlie. 

On the topic of legislation changes in the UK, Charlie believes that “Ireland would have been all over this [too]… if there was a government!”. The problems faced in the UK public transport network are mirrored in Ireland, and so should also stimmy the updating of the laws around e-scooters. “We expect e-scooter rental trials to happen in early 2021 in Ireland”. 

The money has enabled the company to speed up its development; “there’s only so much progress one person can do with no funding”, says Charlie. “This has allowed us to take on people, it [has] allowed us to move quickly, it [has] allowed us to hire consultants in the UK to help us”. With more hands-on-deck, Zipp is quickly setting themselves up as a major player in the UK, aiming for a launch around the end of August 2020 or early September 2020. 

Regardless of Covid-19’s impact on daily transport habits, Zipp is on the rise and is likely to be here to stay. “We have superior technology and some real groundbreaking stuff”, Charlie tells the College Tribune. On their current trajectory, one would expect more funding and faster growth to be just around the corner.

Alex Lohier – Former Deputy Editor

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