How MOBIAN is building the mobility platform of the future
What started out as a parking platform that mostly focused on airport parking, quickly became a complete mobility platform that connects local and international mobilities. Besides, MOBIAN’s open platform allows other companies to use it for their own “webs & apps”. In the podcast Innovative Leaders by INFO, founder Sven Snel talks about parking, how they transformed from a niche player into a marketplace, scaling innovation, the future of the company and gives a couple of tips for other NextGen leaders.
MOBIAN “literally started out in an anti-squatters building in Haarlem-Zuid,” states Snel. He and his partner borrowed the technique to compare insurances from a friend and used that to build a tool to compare parking possibilities. Why parking? “Parking is not something that makes you think “Yes, that’s what I want to do with my life” when you’re a 5-year-old kid.” Snel laughs.
“We are now able to facilitate the complete customer journey, from a parking space at Schiphol Airport to taking a taxi in New York City.”
Coming from the hotel industry, he at one point found himself working for a boutique hotel in Aalsmeer, where he converted the defunct boathouse into a parking lot and added parking to the booking options: “We didn’t book hotel rooms, but added license plates to the booking. From there, we ventured into parking.”
From niche player to complete solution
Soon after, Snel and his partner made the switch to mobility, a logical step in Snel’s eyes. MOBIAN started out as a real niche player that compared parking options near airports. Eventually – with the help of Schiphol Airport – they made the switch from parking to mobility in 2017 by connecting local mobilities to their platform. Snel: “Tickets and hotels are the largest sectors of [the travel industry] and everything in between is neglected.” MOBIAN jumped at that opportunity: “We are now able to facilitate the complete customer journey, from a parking space at Schiphol Airport to taking a taxi in New York City.”
MOBIAN strongly believes in unlocking mobility and that the cloud is an important part of this: “We believe that if we can get stuff in the cloud, cool things can happen.” Not all mobility providers – such as a bike rental place with five bikes or a small train-station parking lot – are connected to the cloud, hindering innovation. Again, MOBIAN jumps at the opportunity. Consumers and providers find each other on their platform and, from there, are able to build “webs & apps”. This makes MOBIAN a bonafide mobility marketplace.
The Amazon of mobility
Platforms like these require a lot of technology and innovation. Snel confesses that it’s hard to focus solely on what the client needs and how MOBIAN can facilitate that. That’s why all innovation is now targeted towards one simple goal, which Snel describes as: “MOBIAN has to become the first point of contact in local mobility life cycles.” He doesn’t stop there, however, if everything goes according to plan, MOBIAN will become “the Amazon of mobility”. For that, they have developed a formula that allows them to easily onboard other mobilities, suppliers, and countries to the platform, rendering it fully scalable.
The future of a niche-niche
MOBIAN uses an online marketing tool for lead generation, which leaves more time for Snel to focus on his future plans for MOBIAN. “[In five years], we want to own 75% of the market. Slightly less ambitious and more realistically, I think we will be able to get 20, 30, or 40%. We are very much in a niche-niche,” states Snel. Nevertheless, Snel is convinced that he will become a one-stop shop for mobility providers all over the world within the next five years.
“We believe that if we can get stuff in the cloud, cool things can happen.”
But how does Snel think that MOBIAN will impact the mobility market from his “niche-niche in the five years to come? “In the travel industry, plane tickets are processed by four GDS-APIs, I see a similar role for MOBIAN when it comes to unlocking local mobilities.”
Tips & tricks
Snel has a couple of tips for people that are also looking for some international success. The first one is “keep your eye on the prize”; don’t get distracted by all the cool things you encounter along the way and focus on your company and where it’s headed. The second tip is to focus your energy on the right things, because, according to Snel, “that which receives energy grows stronger.” Snel’s last tip is to celebrate success together so that everyone feels appreciated and responsible. And apparently that works, because Snel has yet to part ways with a developer. Not too shabby for a niche-niche player…
Want to know more about MOBIAN or Sven Snel? Listen to our podcast here.
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