We sat down with Valentin Haarscher - the new CEO of Poppy (Brussels) to talk about the mobility company's carsharing service in Belgium and its recent expansion to scooters and kick-scooters.
Launched in January 2018, Poppy is backed by Brussels-based Lab Box a startup accelerator. Poppy now operates a multi-vehicle sharing service in Belgium that uses only environmentally friendly vehicles
1. In less than a year, Poppy launched a fleet of EVs and hybrid cars – then went multimodal – expanding its service to offer scooters (mopeds). How does a multi-modal, free-floating service provide a competitive advantage?
When we created the Poppy brand with 350 cars, we already had in mind this multi-vehicle sharing service. Our ambition is to become the preferred partner of shared mobility users in every city in which we are active. Citizens and cities have discovered the huge potential behind shared mobility services, and I don’t see this global trend abruptly stop in the coming years. In fact, I believe there’s no reason why Belgium should be left out of the game. As a result, we expanded to scooter-sharing with a few dozen e-scooters in Antwerp and this is just the beginning of a big mobility revolution in urban environments.
2. How have users reacted to your multimodal options?
Users always welcome a new type of vehicles as something fun, as a new experience first but it’s the benefits of each type of vehicle we offer that keep them stay. Our model proved to be successful as now Poppy scooters are running on the street of Antwerp everyday. Think about all the hassle of finding a parking spot you avoided by riding a scooter in the city!
On the other hand, you cannot do everything with a scooter, so our users also value the availability of vehicles with bigger volumes to transport goods or people. The more options, the better for our users.
3. In 2018, the world saw the rise of the electric kick-scooter. What is your opinion on micro mobility’s impact on the transportation landscape?
The rise of kick scooters in cities all over the world is the confirmation that something big is about to happen in large urban environments and Poppy aims to be on top of this wave by soon introducing kick-scooters service as a part of our multimodal options.
Innovation and technology have recently unlocked the potential of such services that obviously can be criticized today but will become more mature as operators, users, and cities accumulate learnings. As explained above the more option the better for users.
4. Can you tell us a little bit about your users: who are they?
Our users are typically young urban people between 25 to 35 years old. The main reason why they are not even younger is that our service requires the use of a credit card which is not that easy to have when you are under 25 years old. But our community is much diverse than the usual suspects described here. We have people from very diverse backgrounds using Poppy on different occasions. Whether they are students riding Poppy on a night out, company staffs getting to work everyday or simply families enjoying a Sunday getaway, you name it. At the end of the day, this is exactly what makes shared mobility services work in large cities.
One of our other missions is to build a community where we create a close relationship with our users and encourage an active and sustainable lifestyle. To 12.500 and 2600 followers on our Facebook & Instagram and every Poppy users, we make an effort to say that we listen and we care.
5. How will Poppy continue to evolve its service in the future?
After 1 year of launching, we are so proud to own these amazing numbers: 2 million km driven; 20.000 users & 232 tons of CO2 saved!
Poppy will continue to promote shared mobility services and experiment new ways of answering the needs of urban citizens in Belgium. That could be by introducing new types of vehicles, new pricing schemes or promotions. As the only operator in the world that offers cars, scooters and kick-scooters service in one city, we believe in a world where city dwellers can instantly access flexible mobility options in accordance with their specific needs and circumstances, no matter the day, the time or their whereabouts.
More about Valentin Haarscher
Valentin Haarscher was Associate at Lab Box in 2017 when he supported the launch of Poppy before becoming the new CEO of the company in 2019. He previously worked as management consultant at Bain & Company where he had the opportunity to work in a variety of locations (Brussels, Paris, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Helsinki), as well as a variety of industries (Consumer Products, Industrial Products, Banking, Private Equity, Technology, ...)