SUCCESS IS IN THE MIND PODCAST: Listen to ZWINGS Founder & CEO Joe Lewin

Zwings – SIITM Wall Post

From spending all of his personal savings on an inexperienced developer, followed by putting all of his trust into one marketing agency, which took full advantage with little to no outcome, Joe’s eco friendly e-scooter rental business –  ZWINGS – started off with something of an uphill battle!

Founder and Entrepreneur Oliver Bruce speaks with owner operator entrepreneurs, innovators and leaders about their failures, barriers, mistakes, passion and persistence to achieve their vision

Since founding ZWINGS in 2019, Joe Lewin found himself in pole position to assist with the COVID-19 transport requirements and tenders, which orientated around distancing,  that the UK Government put in place for so many people in 2020.

Since winning a handful of large national tenders over the last 12 months, ZWINGS has since become the UK market leader in micro-mobility, a sector only 3 years old and forecast to be worth in excess of £150bn.

Joe Lewin, 24, has proved that age need not be a barrier in business, and that passion, persistence and determination is all that’s needed to forge a way in a multibillion pound up and coming industry! EXCLUSIVE PODCAST DISCOUNT CODE: 15 Minutes FREE national e-scooter rental with discount code OLIVERBRUCE15

You can listen to the latest podcast with ZWINGS Founder & CEO Joe Lewin here via your preferred provider either Apple or Spotify

Apple – E16: ZWINGS Founder & CEO Joe Lewin – Success Is In The Mind

Spotify – E16: ZWINGS Founder & CEO Joe Lewin – Success Is In The Mind

Full transcript for this episode of the podcast can be found below.

Joe Lewin:

Yeah, a lot of it has been networking a lot and then kind of garnering investment from the wider community and eventually building a bit of a network. Going into London from day one, I literally knew no one at all. Trying to approach investors came through things like LinkedIn and through meeting people at events and stuff.

Oliver Bruce:

Success Is In The Mind is proud to have partnered with, and be supported by, the Great British Entrepreneur Awards and community, a programme that recognise, celebrates, supports, encourages and champions entrepreneurs in Great Britain. Hello and welcome to Success Is In The Mind, I’m Oliver Bruce, and if you’re new to the show, we will be discussing with current owner entrepreneurs about their failures, mistakes, passion, and persistence in the face of business adversity. Not all entrepreneurs, however, have completed their vision just yet. Some, are just starting out. And I want to give you a sense of business reality in a world full of idealism. So what does it take to become successful, to grow a brand, or to start a business? Join me to hear from those that are currently doing just that. As always, you can reach the team and I via the website, bizpodcast.co.uk that is with a Z, or tweet me at OliverBruce_biz

Oliver Bruce:

Remember as a kid owning a scooter? You’d barrel down a hill and then have to push off with the other foot, just to get to where you’re going. And maybe that’s why scooting to the office never really took off from a commuting point of view. Until now, however. The UK’s fastest growing micro mobility business Zwings provides electric scooters on a per minute rental basis in towns and cities up and down the UK. Founded by entrepreneur Joe Lewin in 2019, since becoming operational, Joe has built a team of around 30 staff. And, when we recorded this podcast, he was tendering for the installation of 6,000 electric scooters in central London, as well as undertaking a series, a multi-million pound investment round after his initial bootstrap round to get Zwings off the ground. An avid scooterer myself, Joe has kindly given all Zwings users nationwide, courtesy of this podcast, a discount code OLIVERBRUCE15. Put this in next time you ride a Zwings e-scooter, and you’ll get 15 minutes of free ride time on us. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome Joe Lewin. So Joe obviously you graduated from the University of Birmingham three years ago; you studied a Bachelor of Science. You’ve since studied at Harvard Business School, but online, and you’re still actually currently doing that. You’re an advisor to the board of Gone West Global and you’ve started a business in 2019 called Zwings. Now, how do you find time to do that? And frankly, why did you start the business in the first place?

Joe Lewin:

Fantastic. Well, first of all, thank you very much for having me on board today. It’s been through quite a journey in these past few months, from education through to startup world. But ultimately, yeah, I want to create a business that can really deliver impactful change for communities across the planet. But, um, I think it was that deep sense search for fulfilment really coming out of uni. I didn’t really want to go into a corporate setting; it suits many, it’s not appropriate for me and my ambitions. So to start up a company Zwings, where we’re kind of making people happy across the UK through fun and innovative transport solutions, it’s certainly ticking quite a few boxes at the moment.

Oliver Bruce:

Because you said you didn’t want to go into the corporate world, but you could have quite easily done that because you’ve got multiple As, multiple A*s. You did obviously a science degree. I mean, that’s massive amounts of academia, but yet you just kind of threw it all away and went, I want to start my own business, work for myself, and make people happy. What was the reason behind that?

Joe Lewin:

I think it’s just how I’ve been curated. Growing up. Various environmental influences have always spurred me on to start something up on my own. I think I’m not so well when working under management in a rather hierarchal structure. But instead I quite like the flexibility and creativity of starting up something on your own, but certainly there’s a lot of translation from academia to the startup life. So at the moment we’re writing these very detailed bids for the big city contracts like London, 6,000 scooters, which is keeping me up and the team, night and day working on that. But a lot of that is comprehension effectively, absorbing hundred page documents and then detailing answers relative to those documents and wider research. So there’s a lot of translation there from school and uni.

Oliver Bruce:

We’ll get into Zwings more shortly. I mean, it’s the UK’s fastest growing transport startup, I read online. I think it’s fantastic. I use it a lot. But going back to your childhood, pre-university, pre school, what did that look like when you were, you know, being brought up? What did your parents do?

Joe Lewin:

Yeah, well, you may be surprised Oliver. Actually, my dad runs an investment bank, so it’s very, very structured, a very, very corporate setting. My mother hasn’t done anything just, well, in the last quarter of a century, she’s brought up four kids though which in itself was a full-time job-

Oliver Bruce:

I was going to say!

Joe Lewin:

But also she says, yeah, so she kind of created that nurturing environment that’s been so pivotal, I think, in the success story so far.

Oliver Bruce:

Do you think having that cushion, that support blanket, to be able to take a few risks and actually if it goes wrong, fall back, not only on your grades, but actually on, I suppose, the bank of dad to a certain extent, do you think that helps with taking risk?

Joe Lewin:

Well, they’ve been supportive to a large extent, but not necessarily financially actually, so to speak. So, you know, a lot of it has been very seriously networking a lot and the kind of garnering investment from the wider community and eventually building a bit of a network. So actually going into London from day one; I literally knew no one at all. Like trying to approach investors, came through things like LinkedIn and through meeting people at events and stuff, but it wasn’t so much being like, “Oh, parents introduced me to this person”, but in fact they didn’t introduce me to anyone at all. They gave me very basic amounts of money to help with basically getting set up on, just living expenses.

Oliver Bruce:

It’s almost hand to mouth, isn’t it really?

Joe Lewin:

Yeah but it’s quite nice because it brings your head to the ground and actually makes you think.

Oliver Bruce:

Well, people think when you start a business, you’re the richest person in the room. It’s quite ironic because you’re normally the poorest.

Joe Lewin:

Oh definitely. I’ve, you know, barely taken a salary since March, even though, you know, our revenues are really good, we’ve got quite a bit of investment now. So it’s an interesting space. Like there’s not so much stability or guarantee of an outcome, but, God, the relentless work that goes into making that fruitful reward come true is compelling. So it’s been an exciting journey thus far.

Oliver Bruce:

You say the fruitful reward. I mean the renewable energy market or the eco friendly market is a $928 billion market. So does that somewhat spur you on? Obviously there’s a massive pot of gold at the end of the tunnel, or are you genuinely doing it to kind of make people’s lives better and to make sure that the world becomes more sustainable?

Joe Lewin:

I’ve always had a deep rooted interest in sustainability, but really just having an impact on other people’s lives, in a real, tangible manner. Like, I didn’t want to start a business that was just a product and then you sold it through Instagram or something and, you know, you might play with it once or twice, and then kind of that’s it. I wanted something that can really drive impact and can actually improve people’s lives overall. So having always been so adventurous and always actually had a love of Elon Musk, even though he’s rather controversial, but his drive to just really change the world from, from Solar City, Tesla, Space X. I also have an obsession with space and exploration, so certainly correlates there and yeah, drew a lot of inspiration from him. And, you know, even for Elon, he doesn’t really care about kind of the end goal in terms of monetary reward. I mean, look at the time when he split his earnings from PayPal and then split it in between Tesla and Space X, and just from the brink of collapse, both businesses were able to thrive into some of the fastest growing companies. So yeah, I’ve drawn a lot of inspiration for him and, sure, there might be a reward later down the line and then that’s great, but for me, I think if I can go through this process and genuinely impact a lot of people’s lives positively, and, you know, you can be known for that instead, I think that that will be the ultimate feeling of fulfilment in life from my perspective anyway.

Oliver Bruce:

I think that’s a really inspirational story and actually frankly, Elon Musk, you’re absolutely right, is an idol to a lot of people. You know, he’s controversial, but I agree; he’s a fascinating character. And actually, you know, he’s been through a number of different trials and tribulations and barriers, et cetera. I mean, to start this business, Zwings, you must’ve had to fund it somehow, right?

Joe Lewin:

Yep. I emptied my savings account.

Oliver Bruce:

I was going to say, and what was the value of that at the time?

Joe Lewin:

Oh, not that much. Maybe £10,000 or something. Yeah, I wasn’t really always that much of a big spenders so I just saved up from previous.

Oliver Bruce:

And you put that in, what, 18 months ago?

Joe Lewin:

Yep.

New Speaker:

So £10k you put in, and that was your first investment, I suppose; have you had to raise money elsewhere?

Joe Lewin:

Yeah, we started with the bootstrap round and then a friend of a friend came in with about a £70k ticket and then we’ve scaled up since, and we brought on an incredible array of investors, angel investors, and then a small fund to the value of about £400,000. And now we’re embarking on a series A round, which is what will be about £1.5 million.

Oliver Bruce:

I was going to say, because if you’re going for the London tender, surely you have to buy all this stock, I suppose, or indeed the actual product, the scooter, upfront. And then you rent it out, do you, or how does the commercial work?

Joe Lewin:

Well, it first starts with a tender process. So you’d actually need to apply for the contract. We did that with all the various tenders that went live for these scooter trials. So following legalisation of e-scooters to help with social distancing, all these councils across the country made available these amazing opportunities to deploy hundreds of scooters in their towns or cities. Zwings has actually emerged as one of the market leaders for e-scooter rental schemes.

Oliver Bruce:

I didn’t realise that they legalised it for social distancing.

Joe Lewin:

Well, to confirm, they’ve legalised e-scooter rental schemes, and you have to be authorised via the central government and DFT, and then you also need to be vetted by local authorities. So there’s a quite extensive due diligence process that goes in. Then about 20 applicants applied, even some of the major, major operators with many hundreds of millions in funding, and then Zwings beat them.

Oliver Bruce:

How did you beat them?

Joe Lewin:

Ultimately, I think we have a lot stronger local knowledge, of each of our respective communities. I think our solutions are a lot more tailored for the needs of the communities. You know, the schemes thus far have proved incredibly popular. The lovely little town of Yeovil in South Somerset, where we won the contracts, we’re seeing over three rides per day, per scooter, which might not sound like much, but if you look at the city of Paris, that’s only around three rides per day, per scooter, in a population of what is it, eight plus million people. It’s crazy that these e-scooters prove incredibly popular. They’re using them to go from one side of town to the other, they’re going place of business interests, meeting friends, family. And coming out of the back of lockdown, we’re going to see another surge. I think.

Oliver Bruce:

I agree. I think as offices start to reopen as well, I know personally that I use it to get to the office because there’s one parked straight outside where we’re based, so it’s ideal in that sense. But going back to the day that you came up with the concept for essentially electric scooter rentals, because it is new, but it’s also not new. If you, if you can kind of see where I’m coming from there. How did you, and why did you kind of just go, this is absolutely what I’m going to run with and what did your parents think? Because obviously you’re a bright chap. They might’ve thought that you’d go down the corporate ladder, but you threw it away just to ride a scooter?

Joe Lewin:

I bought one scooter originally and just fell in love with it. The e-scooters just offer maximum flexibility and convenience. And I knew a lot of people needed to have access to this, but a lot of people don’t want to purchase vehicles. They don’t want to purchase many assets nowadays. It’s all about the subscription or rental model, hence the growth of these monthly flexible passes and so on. That’s actually something we’re going to bring in next month.

Oliver Bruce:

That’s interesting, so the next month being January [2021].

Joe Lewin:

It may well be for you actually, that you would be our target customer Oliver. Residents, but also, you know, people that work nearby and it’s one fee unlimited rides within that 30 day period.

Oliver Bruce:

I mean, that’s perfect. Beause all the guys that live and work in town can utilise that. And frankly, that’s something that we can just use as an employee perk. That’s a really smart idea. I noticed that Pret a Manger are also doing the same thing in terms of, you know, you can spend, what is it, 20 quid a month and you can have unlimited coffees.

New Speaker:

Yes.

Oliver Bruce:

So it’s a similar model I’m assuming.

Joe Lewin:

One hundred percent. Yeah, it definitely works at scale, but now we’ve got usage data, which to be honest, I think we almost doubled our forecast and you know what founders are like, founders typically balloon forecast. But then when the data comes out, it’s actually like “ooh actually whoops”. We’ve somehow doubled our original forecast. So now we’ve got that data, we are in a better position to be able to offer cool features such as unlimited rides for a set fee per month.

Oliver Bruce:

That’s incredible. I mean, because it’s only pennies per ride anyway.

Joe Lewin:

Yeah. Yeah. It’s not too expensive. I think maybe an hour’s ride is about £10. And I think comparatively for the amount of fun that you have an hour on a scooter is just something else.

Oliver Bruce:

I completely agree. My mates and I, we’ve got a WhatsApp group called “Scoot into my DMs” and it’s just for organising these Zwings trips.

Joe Lewin:

Really? [laughs].

Oliver Bruce:

Genuinely. I said to them, I said Joe’s coming on the podcast. They were like, right. That’s ridiculous. You need to just tell him about this. So there you go.

Joe Lewin:

Brilliant, I love that.

Oliver Bruce:

No word of a lie, Joe.

New Speaker:

It’s great.

New Speaker:

Yeah, it’s fantastic. I mean, they are great fun. And you did a really interesting, not pivot I suppose, but you sort of seized the moment when the pandemic started and you gave NHS workers and emergency service personnel free rides on the scooters, which obviously got you a load of press off the back. I mean, smart move. Are you still doing that for essential workers?

Joe Lewin:

Yes. I mean, in fact we’ve extended that offer, so essential workers can actually utilise the service for another two weeks for free, completely unlimited rides for free. And that’s also for police and ambulance staff.

Oliver Bruce:

Because I was speaking to Cheltenham’s MP Alex, before you came on, and he’s a massive advocate for you guys. I know he was involved in trying to push it through because he asked for some feedback on it, when they first launched. Does that help, having advocates in parliament?

Joe Lewin:

Yes. It does indeed, I mean, that’s part of our core ethos really to build relationships with key stakeholders, but we speak with various disability group representatives, like Thomas Pocklington Trust, Guide Dogs for the Blind, and we have regular stakeholder meeting and we talk about safety and ways in which we can mitigate those risks and concerns that they’ve raised about scooters in general.

Oliver Bruce:

What’s the lifespan of scooter though, because surely there’s an element of wastage when they start to get broken, after 12, 18 months?

Joe Lewin:

We run quite a slick operation, but yeah, no, you are right there. The scooters do last about twenty-four months, but actually we’ve now got a very cool scooter, which I’m super looking forward to putting on the streets of Gloucestershire. It’s got suspension, it’s got indicators.

Oliver Bruce:

No way! Really?

Joe Lewin:

It’s quite common to have non suspension scooters, but we just wanted to. Yeah. It’s all about customer experience for us.

Oliver Bruce:

Do you think it’s going to be more expensive per ride for a scooter with suspension then?

Joe Lewin:

No, no, same price.

Oliver Bruce:

Same price. Genius. So you’re going to phase them out or how’s that gonna work?

Joe Lewin:

Well, we’ve already found a buyer that’s really keen to repurpose them. So yeah, we want to make sure we’re aligned with all things sustainability. So yeah, we’ll be able to resell them to another operator, probably in Italy I think we found just, sell all the scooters and replace them. So that’s exciting.

Oliver Bruce:

As mentioned earlier on in the podcast, don’t forget, next time you ride a Zwings scooter anywhere in the country to type in OLIVERBRUCE15, to enjoy 15 minutes of free ride time on us. Are you looking for a PR company that can evaluate your brand profile and execute effective communications? Well Bloxham PR, who work with some of the largest brands in the fashion, field sports, and luxury lifestyle sectors can do exactly that. Developing long-term relationships is at the heart of the Bloxham ethos, combining big thinking with big results. They simply never miss a trick. And they certainly didn’t miss a trick by partnering with us, check them out, at bloxhampr.com. So coming up in next week’s podcast, we’ve got James Harford-Tyrer, founder of Cudoni, a brand that focuses on the reselling of luxury goods online. Having recently raised investment to the tune of 4.6 million pounds, here’s what you can expect.

James Harford-Tyrer:

One of the cliches is “Yeah, don’t be the smartest. If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.” So I pride myself on consistently being the most stupid person in any room I walk into and I’m doing a great job of that.

Oliver Bruce:

No, don’t shoot yourself down! When you developed these initially Joe and you had to obviously put the software on and build an app, et cetera, how the hell did you figure out what to do and what the right thing to do was? Because it’s not something that you can just open a book and go, “okay, this is how you develop a scooter app”.

Joe Lewin:

Yeah, no, exactly. In fact, it was really, really unclear initially of kind of the best way to approach it. But again, that was all part of like, you know, uni work is that methodology that you can apply. So just kind of taking a step back and just looking at all the various options, and steps forward. Originally starting up, sitting in a café with my laptop, just kind of thinking about the best way to approach it. And interestingly, I remember we hired this chap, lovely guy, and I don’t mind if he’s listened to that, that’s okay. He was extremely expensive. And at the time it was like, pro-rata, you know, £60/70k, but this is like out of my savings. And I was thinking, well, okay, this guy’s got five years’ experience at a bike hire company, he’s going to take the business to the next step. It’s so exciting. And we were just sitting there in a cafe and weeks went by and just there was nothing really produced. Like we weren’t making any headway at all. And meanwhile my pitiful savings were just diminishing in front of me.

Oliver Bruce:

This guy randomly took it. No, but he was good though, right?

Joe Lewin:

Well no, eventually we had to let him go. So it’s kind of one of the lessons where like, you know, don’t get wooed by someone’s experience when, in actual fact, you want to see pen on paper.

Oliver Bruce:

Actionable results.

Joe Lewin:

Exactly. Exactly. So-

Oliver Bruce:

So he took all your savings?

Joe Lewin:

[laughs] Pretty much.

Oliver Bruce:

Genius. I mean, he was laughing. I don’t know what your reaction was.

Joe Lewin:

And I was naïve. I was naïve. Like he suggested a high salary. And I brought him on part-time and I thought, right, well, we’ll just take the hit and, you know, learn from that. And I think the whole notion of hiring slowly, firing quickly has really shone through, particularly in a company like this, where we’re growing so fast. So it’s quite hard to do. I think we’ve gone from four people to 30 people in the last two months.

Oliver Bruce:

So what does the structure look like at the moment then?

Joe Lewin:

Yeah, we’ve got a team, customer service team, operations team, marketing team, and then some other policy, and consultants.

Oliver Bruce:

So yuo’ve been, and it’s a horrible term, but you’ve been quite lucky with COVID and, as much as the rules have been slightly relaxed, and it’s allowed you to somewhat sort of take advantage of it, am I right in saying?

Joe Lewin:

I see more of it as the silver lining of COVID. And I think it’s not like we’re profiting from this past few months, but instead I think we’re providing a very valued service during this time. You know, e-commerce is an exciting sector it’s growing rapidly, but the products that are being sold aren’t necessarily to kind of help and provide a solution. Whereas we’re actually providing a social distancing solution.

Oliver Bruce:

It sounds like you could actually go through a crowdfund with this, but you’ve gone through private investment or at least angel investors, haven’t you?

Joe Lewin:

Well we’re now deliberating whether we should do a Series A on Crowdcube or another platform like that. We’ll soon be 20,000 users on our platform. So, you know with people regularly going on to our app, they’re very much exposed to, you know, ads, or whatever it may be. So whilst you want to not inflict any negative implications on the rider experience, we want to be able to provide a boost to local businesses in Cheltenham, for example. So if we can place an ad on the map to show where a local café or restaurant is, we can then encourage people to travel to that destination and spend critical money to that business.

Oliver Bruce:

That is smart. And you could, well, frankly, I don’t know if you put bays outside these shops, but actually that’s a genius way of enticing spending or even discounts in the shop, if you scoot over there and show your Zwings membership.

Joe Lewin:

One hundred percent. Yep.

Oliver Bruce:

And when’s that rolling out then, Joe?

Joe Lewin:

That will be from February onwards. We’ve got a new app coming out, which has got some cool features on it. If we want to emerge as this leader for British micro mobility, we want to have a really good app, a really good scooter, and just a top quality service, I think.

Oliver Bruce:

And that’s what your plan is then, you want to be a leader for British micro mobility? Which is a term I have never heard before.

Joe Lewin:

Yeah. Micro mobility. It’s kind of an emerging sector for bikes and scooters and any vehicle that’s below five hundred kilos basically, but it’s going to be valued at about 150 billion for 2030. So yeah, it’s an exciting space. There’s so many opportunities in between with digital marketing and so on.

Oliver Bruce:

And how much of an inspiration then, were Boris bikes? Because I’m assuming there were some similarities there when you were setting up.

Joe Lewin:

There is a lot of similarities. The Boris bike system in itself is deeply cost inefficient. The docking station model, particularly when the docks are so costly, it will never be sustainable in terms of revenue. But this is the exciting aspect, it’s that it’s not just London that gets to enjoy the benefits of bike and scooter hire schemes. Now the smaller towns and cities have the opportunity to open their doors, to have these schemes come in and support the community.

Oliver Bruce:

Looking at the way the tech works and looking at the way that it’s actually sort of been developed, was that your brainchild in terms of the process from scanning that QR code to then taking the scooter away? Or was that a lot of R&D and development that you had to go through?

Joe Lewin:

We work with a partnered software developer. So our partner software developer actually builds the platform, separately. And then we licence it from them. It’s proven to be a much more effective approach and that’s pretty normal in our industry.

Oliver Bruce:

From a marketing point of view with you guys, you know, you’ve got a marketing team, but you’ve only just recently employed a marketing team. Was it you for the last nine, ten months, then?

Joe Lewin:

To a large extent, it was me. And then we had a consultant. We outsource it to an agency and god, that was a mistake. Actually, I should probably make you aware: don’t trust agencies, unless you’re like really, really confident in their proven experience. If you’re a small client, £2/3k budget, a retainer fee or something a month, for you as a startup, that might be quite a lot, which it was at the time, but to them you’re a really small client. So you get given like a junior account manager with about a week’s experience.

Oliver Bruce:

I couldn’t agree more. I could not agree more.

Joe Lewin:

Yeah, it was awful. That was a very bad move, I think.

Oliver Bruce:

And they’ll just string you along on a six month contract. And then when you say goodbye, they’ll go “that’s not a problem at all. Thanks for paying for the coffee machine”, which is literally all they do. I bet you made nothing from it as well. I bet it just cost you money.

Joe Lewin:

Yeah, pure money down the drain.

Oliver Bruce:

So you employed, you brought it in-house instead, and I’m assuming you’re paying the person slightly less than three grand a month when they’re on a salary.

Joe Lewin:

Yep. We did indeed, we’ve got someone incredible from Lyme, the company, and spent six years at Microsoft as well. And then we’ve got an intern as well. Interns are incredible, incredible people when they’re super driven, they’re after experience, they’ll work just as hard as an employee, provide equal amounts of quality work. And then obviously, you know, slightly more affordable for the company’s bottom line. And my intention there is to be able to offer them career progressions, actually offer the job at the end to make it all worthwhile.

Oliver Bruce:

That’s admirable, I mean, with regards to the structure for the next,, and let’s take it from January onwards, say 12 months? What does that look like?

Joe Lewin:

Yeah, I’m really excited actually for this year, basically really honing down on systems and processes, getting those structures in place, having all the right team on board. So, operations director, new operations manager, the marketing teams, everything’s going to be super clean, organised, systematic. It’s going to be beautiful. Whereas, you know, in the early stages, everything is, you know, you’re learning constantly. It’s a process. So it’s all on the job.

Oliver Bruce:

But will you ever stop learning though, Joe?

Joe Lewin:

No, no, I don’t think we do.

Oliver Bruce:

If you had to do it again, what, genuinely, apart from the agency element, what would you do differently and tell yourself from day one?

Joe Lewin:

Finding someone with industry specific experience from an earlier stage is important.

Oliver Bruce:

Have you had that, then, have you had mentors and NEDs?

Joe Lewin:

I had mentors, but I, you know, again, I didn’t really have industry specific mentors. So, you know, when you’re pretty stressed with all that’s going on and you want to look for a source of reassurance from someone in the industry that, “Oh yeah, this is pretty normal”. So yeah, I think probably finding a mentor with very specific experience within the industry, that would have been quite nice from an earlier stage.

Oliver Bruce:

Have you had the day where you’ve sort of got out of bed and gone, “this is just, I am just not interested in going into the office today because genuinely everything’s going wrong and I don’t want to continue it”. Have you not had that yet?

Joe Lewin:

Absolutely. Well, when COVID started, you know, we were still a B2B business focusing on supporting offices and hotels with dedicated rental schemes. So I was like, “goodness me, like, what are we, what are we doing?”. Like we’d always planned for, you know, the legalisation, but that was a year and a half away. Literally three or four weeks later, Grant Shapps comes on TV and he says, “we are going to legalise rental schemes for local authorities”. Honestly, I swear to God, I collapsed to my knees and there we were; we’d already been basically preparing for this moment, but kind of fast strike that. And we went through the public tender process and we won all these contracts fair and square; 12 month contracts, but we hope that we would deliver a good service so that they do actually renew.

Oliver Bruce:

Well that’ll be what takes you from, you know, a couple of million, for instance, up to, you know, a proper PLC potentially even be able to float and become, you know, a ‘unicorn’. I mean you seem to be having the growth of what people define as a ‘unicorn’ in terms of rapid growth over a really short period of time to a high valuation. I mean, is that something you’re looking at in terms of a vision?

Joe Lewin:

I would, because I’m absolutely obsessed with this business. I love it. I do 20 hour days, every single day, six days a week, I would like to work for this business for many, many years to come. There is a vision. We want to merge. Actually I should say, we want to sustain this current position as UK’s leader for e-scooter rental schemes. But yeah, no, we would hope that the company would continue its growth and the revenue and demand would be reflected in a much higher valuation. But, um, yeah, our valuation has gone up 50% in the last two months.

Oliver Bruce:

And in terms of age, I mean, I hate that whole sort of analogy that age is a barrier because for me, frankly, it isn’t. An idea is what makes you successful. You know, having a passionate and persistent approach to it is also very, very helpful. You know, you’re 24. I started a business when I was 19 and I’m, whatever it is, 27 now, have you come up against barriers or, you know, have you sort of flown through the whole “you’re too young to be doing this”?

Joe Lewin:

I think I’ve acquired a very large amount of experience in such little time that perhaps other people in different career paths wouldn’t have, because it’s marketing, it’s finance, it’s data science. So no, I’m pretty comfortable with where I am. I think one thing for sure is that this market is very new. You know, the company, the industry as a whole is about two and a half, three years old. So lots of exciting things happening in the space, but very, very fast moving. And I’m very glad that Zwings has emerged as the leader for not only Britain, but actually as the country, as a whole, for these trials, there were 30 applicants that applied and we are now second place, in terms of kind of, locations, well actually councils that have awarded us the opportunity to deploy in their cities.

Oliver Bruce:

I think it’s fantastic. I use it a lot. We’re actually just about to move offices and I’ve put a plan together for the staff to actually use them instead of driving in if they can. So we’ve got a special Zwings solution there. But for people, Joe, that might not know about you, where can they find out about you, how can they download the app and how can they fundamentally use the scooter?

Joe Lewin:

Sure. So the Zwings app is available on the App Store. They’re very excited to launch our new app, which is probably going to kick off in about early February, 1st week of February. Head over to the App Store, or Google Play store, type in Zwings, we’re the top one, yeah, give it a download, upload your driving licence. It’s important that the licence is in your hand, that you’re not taking a photo of a phone and then take a quick selfie. That verifies you. You only ever need to do that once. And then off you go, you can begin scooting.

Oliver Bruce:

For those scooter virgins, Joe, you got anything t entice them onto the scooter, or indeed people that already do use the app?

Joe Lewin:

Yes, absolutely. So we’ve got an offer for 15 minutes of free scooting. So we can actually give a special discount specifically for the show. That would be OLIVERBRUCE15.

Oliver Bruce:

I like it. Okay, good. Well, we’ll use that one, OLIVERBRUCE15, for anybody who wants 15 minutes of fun. Joe, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. I’m sure we’ll speak again soon.

Joe Lewin:

Thank you Oliver. I really appreciate your time. Thank you for having me on.

Oliver Bruce:

Likewise.

Joe Lewin:

Safe scooting everyone!

Oliver Bruce:

Thanks so much for listening to this week’s podcast. If you enjoyed it as much as we did, we would really appreciate it, if you could rate it, share it and subscribe to it. To find out more about the guests featured on Success Is In The Mind, visit our website, bizpodcast.co.uk that is with Z, where you could apply to be on the show, check out the behind the scenes content and keep up to date with what’s coming up. Check out our Facebook page by visiting @SuccessIsInTheMindPod, or follow me on Twitter at @OliverBruce_biz. This podcast has been produced by the team at PinPoint Media. To find out more visit pinpoint-media.co.uk. Thanks so much for listening. Take care.