Comodule chose France for its potential in micro-mobility
Founded in Estonia in 2014, Comodule met its first success by offering IoT solutions to shared mobility operators to reduce traffic congestion. Around 30% of the global scooter fleet and more than 350,000 shared vehicles use its hardware and software. In 2020, in response to the boom in electric scooters, the company also launched its own model under the brand Äike.
Established in France in August 2021, we have met with Kaja Aulik, Head of Project, on the choice of Paris to start the international expansion of Äike.
Tell us about your company, Comodule?
Comodule is an Estonian company founded seven years ago. Initially, it specialized in the Internet of Things (IoT) for electric vehicles (bikes, electric scooters). The company was very successful on the BtoB segment, but the founders realized that they could do more than just systems for other brands. Currently, all scooters are made in Asia. The idea of almost all manufacturers was to mass-produce the scooters without safety or insurance. Two years ago, the electric scooter market boomed worldwide without warning. That’s why Comodule launched Äike, a BtoC electric scooter brand, one of the world’s most premium and sustainable e-scooters, and the only one produced in Europe.
Why did you choose France first to expand abroad with this project?
With Comodule, there were already links with France, notably through our BtoB partnerships. With Äike, we chose Paris as our first foreign market for several reasons. In 2020, more than 600,000 e-scooters were sold in France. Paris has also set up essential infrastructures to accommodate light electric vehicles, with speed limitations and the implementation of pedestrian streets. That’s why we decided to launch in France.
You mentioned the favorable context for micro-mobility in France. Can you tell us more?
There is much talk about micro-mobility in other European countries, fighting against all forms of pollution, but there is no concrete action. In Paris, there are actual actions!
A person has two options: the option of staying in a car that is completely blocked, or the option of benefiting from the fresh air, taking a bike, a scooter. In France, the employee can benefit from a tax-free pass of 400€ for his work-home trips in micro-mobility, this aid being taken in charge by the employer. This way, sustainable mobility is accessible for everyone.
Learn more: With Navya, experience mobility in a new way
How do you feel about the Parisian ecosystem? Do you think that there is an entrepreneurial spirit?
Yes, we can see new businesses, ideas, products, and services every day. Also, today, the consumer has the privilege to go a little further and choose local companies. Of course, anyone can buy a scooter made in China, but there are also European stores in France, which are there to talk with the consumer, to give a good impression. Since there is much innovation everywhere, it’s time for consumers to think about what kind of innovation they want to support.
Do you think that it is possible to extend micro-mobility beyond Paris?
Yes, when you look at France, there are many exciting regions. For example, cities with older populations, where electric vehicles can help mobility.
More touristic regions are also attractive, giving alternatives in places where traditional rental vehicles are costly.
We also have received expressions of interest from cities like Lyon or Saint Etienne, with companies contacting us to see if we want to set up in other areas. We have much support from local people.
How did you experiment with the support you received from Business France and its partners?
It has been great, and I would like to thank the Choose Paris Region (CPR). It is a contact obtained thanks to the Estonian embassy in Paris. They were very nice to us, and we asked many questions about the infrastructure and the people’s mentality. CPR was an excellent contact even during the covid period; they answered all our questions.
We also received good support from Business France Nordics in Estonia, and we kept quite a few French contacts from all possible backgrounds. There is a strong collaboration with Business France abroad and the French regions. They gave valuable contacts for the long term.
If you had to give one piece of advice to other Nordic entrepreneurs willing to establish in France, what would it be?
To come to the field, find all possible opportunities to meet people, and start making connections.
With Äike, I participated in quite a few events and exhibitions. The French like to be consulted. They don’t like when companies come from nowhere with the idea to conquer France. You must understand the mentality and do it with the people. And then, doing business with the French is an absolute pleasure.
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