Almost exactly a year ago, we interviewed Revel founder and CEO Frank Reig when it was on the cusp of expanding into multiple business lines beyond its original scope of providing shared electric mopeds. Today, we’re taking a second look to see how far the startup has come, and the distance it has to cover to achieve its stated goal of helping urban cities transition to electric transport.
Revel started its moped business in New York in 2018, and it has since expanded into Miami, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. But if you just heard about the startup for the first time today, you might not even think of it as a moped sharing company. Over the past year, Revel has pivoted sharply toward building fast-charging hubs for electric vehicles, launching its first “Superhub”in NYC last June.
Along the way, the company also started (and quietly shut down) an e-bike subscription service, and launched an all-electric ride-hailing service in NYC.
Reig recently told me the company is aiming to build 200 fast-charging stalls in NYC by the end of this year, “and we’re shooting for hundreds more in 2023 on top of that.” Revel’s ride-hailing business, which currently has 50 Teslas driving around Manhattan, will also expand alongside the EV charging infrastructure, he said.
“The way we think about stations is at scale. Revel’s not interested in the one charger at a Walgreens. That doesn’t do anything for the city, and it doesn’t accelerate any transition. The only way to drive EV adoption in cities is with a real network of infrastructure, which does not exist right now. Until a company like Revel builds it all, this EV transition is just a lot of marketing and talk.”
We sat down with Reig to talk about Revel’s business, the company’s recent funding from Blackrock, the need to work grid stability into its business model, and how the company thinks about profitability.
This interview, part of an ongoing series with founders who are building transportation companies, has been edited for length and clarity.
TC: It’s been a year since our interview, and Revel feels like a different company now! Back then, moped sharing was your main business, but now the focus is on EV charging infrastructure. Do you still have plans to expand your moped business?
Frank Reig: We have 6,000 mopeds across four markets, so it’s a sizable business that generates a sizable amount of revenue. At this point, we’re sort of waiting for COVID to be over officially until we really start to think about expanding our micromobility footprint.
That said, some of the mopeds in our fleet are three, four years old. So we’re starting to think about the next moped technology we want to use. How do we want to think about reinvesting in our markets, in our fleets?
TC: You recently closed a $126 million Series B round led by Blackrock, and a lot of that’s going into your EV charging hubs. I believe you said you’re going to build another one in New York?
Reig: We’re building many more in New York.
Everybody keeps talking about the EV transition. Everyone keeps talking about how auto OEMs are saying they’re never going to produce another gas vehicle again. They’re falling over themselves to outdo one another. No one’s talking about where all these vehicles are going to charge. That story has not changed from last year. If anything, it’s gotten worse. Infrastructure is just so lacking, especially in some of these big cities like New York.
New York state passed a law that said all vehicles sold after 2035 will have to be electric, and 20% of new vehicles sold will have to be electric by 2025. We literally have millions of vehicles that need to transition to electric, and there’s really no charging in sight, which is where our strategy comes into play.