The company, which does business as Urb-E, was founded in 2013 by Peter Lee and Sven Etzelsberger and manufactures electric bikes and scooters. It’s known to some Angelenos for a line of collapsible scooters introduced on the USC campus in 2018, but the company announced March 3 that it had raised $5 million to build out electric bicycle-based delivery networks.
Urb-E has already begun operating one of these networks in New York, and Chief Executive Charles Jolley said the company plans to start facilitating deliveries in the Los Angeles area this year.
Jolley is a serial entrepreneur and formerly led Facebook Inc.’s Android division. He became an investor in Urb-E in 2019 when the company began to focus on deliveries. Jolley took over as CEO last year.
He said the complicated logistical demands of ecommerce businesses require more nimble solutions for last-mile deliveries.
“We’re replacing trucks and vans with electric vehicles engineered for every neighborhood,” he said.
The company’s electric bicycles are hitched to small trailers that carry foldable storage containers that can be wheeled on and off to facilitate a simpler loading and unloading process.
Delivery companies and trained drivers can access the bikes with a daily rental charge and can pay a reservation fee to hold one of the vehicles for a scheduled pickup.
One advantage the company has over other ecommerce delivery companies, according to Jolley, is that it designs and manufactures its fleet of bicycles in-house, then manages rentals using proprietary software.
He said most of the funds the company has raised so far will go toward building out its first few delivery networks.
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