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Korean micromobility startup Gbike may buy competition ahead of 2025 IPO

While micromobility companies around the world were in limbo and struggling bankruptcy, shut down and dismissalsa Seoul-based e-scooter and e-bike sharing operator called Gbicycle is preparing to go public in Korea and is reviewing acquisition targets.

In an exclusive interview with TechCrunch, Walter Yoon, CEO and founder of Gbike, said the startup is currently in talks to make acquisitions in the micromobility industry to increase its market share ahead of its planned initial public offering, with a target of early 2025. «The details haven’t materialized yet, but right now we’re looking at about three to five targets to take on,» Yoon said, adding that he hasn’t decided how many acquisitions he will complete.

Gbike bought a local micromobility platform called ZET from Hyundai Motor for an undisclosed amount last year to strengthen its technological synergies.

The startup recently closed its Series C, about $9.1 million, equivalent to KRW 11.9 billion, in the form of convertible notes, bringing its total raised to $21 million since its 2017 launch.

The seven-year-old startup boasted its profitability in stark contrast to its global competitors. Gbike posted EBITDA of $40 million and revenue of $13.7 million in 2022, Yoon said. The startup expects to generate about $50 million in revenue, up 25% year-on-year, in 2023, with 30% EBITDA and 10% EBIT in 2023.

«We improved profitability through deep vertical integration from logistics and operations to manufacturing,» Yoon told TechCrunch. “Based on this fully integrated capability, we set out our vision of innovating the micromobility ecosystem through battery swapping infrastructure. And this vision resonated with investors.»

The seven-year-old company started the project of the battery exchange station two years ago. Last month, the company partnered with Zentrophy, a Korean battery-swapping infrastructure operator, to build its first battery-swapping station in South Korea this year. It has an ambition to build 4,000 stations across the country by 2030. Once it becomes financially viable with a replaceable battery infrastructurethe company will enable other privately owned personal mobile device manufacturers to adopt Gbike’s battery system for their vehicles.

One of the things that sets Gbike apart from the competition is its ability to build its own vehicles — e-scooters, e-bikes and batteries, Yoon mentioned. On top of that, unlike peers that outsource field operators, who pick up vehicles and deliver batteries, Gbike’s full-time integrated operations team is its other point of difference, which helps the startup improve the communication channel from field operators to IT developers performance, he explained. is Yoon.

Gbike launched its own e-bikes in May last year and now operates a fleet of 35,000 e-bikes. It has a fleet of 100,000 electric scooters and 3.4 million users in South Korea. Last year it also introduced its own battery that fits not only e-bikes, but also e-wheelchairs, e-strollers, e-scooters and e-mopeds. Gbike, which has 160,000 rechargeable batteries, says about 50,000 batteries are used daily.

The startup continues to invest in international markets. It launched an electric mobility service in Bangkok and Phuket, Thailand in March and October, respectively. In the first quarter of this year, Gbike intends to launch its service in Vietnam. Although the startup’s main markets are South Korea and Southeast Asia, it is testing the US market. It launched in Memphis, Tennessee, in July and in LA and Guam in December. When asked how he might navigate the turbulent micromobility market in the US, Yoon said he is testing and learning a new market that is completely different from the markets he operates in.

The company operates a fleet of 2,000 e-scooters in Thailand and another fleet of 2,000 e-scooters in the U.S. Yoon said this year’s goal for Gbike is to turn a profit in Southeast Asia and the U.S.

Gbike has 310 employees as of December, which is 34.7% more than 230 in February last year.

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