Mario Lochmüller is founder and CEO of Moovster. He spoke to Industrious at the IAA Conference in Frankfurt, Germany.

What’s Moovster?

Our vision is to solve urban mobility. Moovster is an open mobility-as-a-service platform. We want to make mobility more flexible. We want to save people money and reward them for rethinking their own individual mobility behavior.

We have issues with traffic in all big cities every single day. Cities are fighting congestion and have big problems with air pollution. We want to improve the quality of living in urban areas.

Did one city spark this idea?

I’ve lived in Munich for 16 years. There’s more traffic year to year and by now Munich is the second most congested city in Germany.

Cities are growing. With urbanization, studies tell us that in 2050, 70 or more percent of people will live in cities.

Too many people in cities own cars and use them on a daily basis. That won’t work anymore. It’s not sustainable behavior. In every bigger city, you get stuck in traffic, have air pollution and face streets packed with parking cars.

We can overcome that with technology, and with great user experience. For example, we can reward people who act more sustainably when it comes to mobility. Penalties won’t solve the problems we face. That’s what I believe, and what we believe as Moovster.

Do you own a car?

I haven’t owned a car for eight years. I got rid of it because it was kind of useless.

It’s useful to have some flexibility, especially on the weekends. But it was standing around: four, six weeks, sometimes eight weeks, just parked in front of the house. I decided, “that doesn’t make sense at all.”

You can easily organize a car to go to the mountains on the weekends, you can rent one on a weekly basis. And it doesn’t just save you money, it saves the world, it saves resources.

How has you daily commute changed since you got rid of your car?

In the mornings I typically take the subway. I can prepare for the day, answer some emails. In the evenings, I use car-sharing because it’s faster. The roads are empty if I leave after 8:00 pm.

If I leave earlier to meet friends in the city, I choose bike sharing, or the new e-scooters, because it’s the easiest and fastest way through the city.

What’s the status of Moovster?

Moovster is in beta right now. Our plans are to start in Germany early this year.

How did Moovster begin?

The foundations for Moovster were laid 3 years ago at BMW.

So you were at BMW at the time?

Yes. I spent 16 years at BMW. The last six years changed my perspective dramatically. I was looking at the world, figuring out what new technology trends are driving industries—not just mobility or automotive.

I learned a lot. We set up a digital business model innovation unit within BMW. That was also the starting point of Moovster.

The whole concept of Moovster was combining two markets: mobility and e-commerce.

And gamification. Everybody loves rewards.

Exactly.

We’re doing a platform approach. It’s platform technology, but also a platform ecosystem, platform economy.

For that, you need completely new skillsets. You need strong partners with the capabilities to use the technologies and create cool user experiences. For that we went to IBM together with Aperto and IBM iX. We also used the IBM Garage approach.

To create a great user experience and also use technologies like AI and Cloud, IBM was a very pragmatic partner. It allowed us to bring our whole concept together.

I did the first iteration with another design agency. We got unbelievably good feedback testing within BMW in the first step. Then we decided to bring it to life and build it on a scalable level. That’s what I found in this technology partnership with IBM.

It took us one-and-a-half years to have a scalable solution, ready for go-to-market.

What tips do you have for future entrepreneurs?

Having a sponsor who believes in your idea is the most important thing. I had this within BMW.

Then, of course, you have to convince people to be your partners.

The most crucial thing is, don’t tell me, show me. Show people it can work. I’ve heard a lot of times, “that will never work.”

I first pitched my idea within BMW. I sent 15 people emails: Who wants to join a little pilot to be the first users of Moovster? I explained the concept: the rewards benefit system, and a mobility budget to spend flexibly on all different mobility providers.

We got over 300 applications in two days.

So we had to kick off things fast and built the first MVP in a few weeks.

Your first MVP doesn’t have to be perfect. But it has to give a first feeling of how it would work. From that we learned so many things.

What did you learn from the user testing?

We learned users want to get rewarded with all different kinds of mobility. If they act more sustainably, they want to get rewarded—by walking to work, or using public transport instead of car-sharing.

We learned to prototype the idea fast. Collect the feedback, and go to your sponsor and say, these are the things people would love to have. That’s what I did. All doors opened. Because people saw that it was working. It wasn’t just, “we can, we should.”

Just do it. Don’t tell me. Show me.

What’s next for Moovster?

We’re getting the product out into the market, collecting new user feedback, and coming up with new features. We realized our users want some social challenges as well. They ask, can I compete with a friend to be more sustainable?

For anyone interested: go to getmoovster.com and register as a test user. Join us and make more out of your mobility.

We want to tell this story to more cities, because cities are big stakeholders.

We want to make the world a little better, and life a little better, to enrich the quality of life for people in big cities.

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