sente.link and New Mobility Lab have teamed up on an international accelerator program that is designed to take early-stage Mobility startups (primarily in Europe) to scale-up via a hands-on structured accelerator. This series of posts focuses on New Mobility innovations leading up to the program starting September 2017.
The digital transformation of mobility and transportation is not only reshaping industries but creating opportunities for entrepreneurs, investors and corporations alike. But the origin of this transformation doesn’t start with a “Silicon” and end in a “Valley.” In fact, the future of mobility has its roots in the first place the car took its first spin - Europe.
If you know cars (or at least a little), then you know the Old Continent is known for its automotive brands - Porsche, Mercedes, BMW, VW, Audi - the list goes on. But did you also know Europe is home to the some of the world’s largest transportation and logistic companies? Many of Europe’s cities boast a world class infrastructure and excellent public transportation. And through Europe’s world class universities, some of the most profound research on the topic of mobility and transportation is being produced. The education system of Europe produces great engineering talent and there are a range of interesting startups emerging especially around mobility and transportation. However, if compared to Silicon Valley or Israel, Europe still lacks the VC funding and a network of mentors who have successfully scaled startups. .
Because of this, sente.link decided to focus its 8th accelerator program on the domain of mobility. To help guide the future cohort of international startups through a robust set of trainings, tools and mentorship, we’ve teamed up with the New Mobility Lab, founded by the Renz brothers, Alexander and Jochen ‘Joe’ Renz.
As native Germans but US residents, Joe and Alex have an international perspective and a global network across the US, Europe and Israel. What sets them apart, however, is more than stamps in their passport and names in a “contacts” list. Their vision is holistic.
The Renz brothers understand the car as an important building block in the future of multi-modal mobility. However, they believe that much of disruptive innovation happens in the form of solutions around the car and in the broader mobility ecosystem.
“We really think of the future of mobility as a System of Systems - a new ecosystem emerges that will transform mobility and transportation. New Mobility goes far beyond automotive, but touches retail, smart cities, telecommunications, banking and insurance.”
Back in 2015, Alex and Jochen were part of the genesis that coined the term “New Mobility.” However, “back in those days” they had a lot of explaining to do. In a world where people are used to carrying their mobile phones wherever they go (even in the bathroom), the term “mobility” was associated with “mobile communications”. Today, “New Mobility” is one of the hottest areas of technology innovation and venture investment.
When we met the Renz Brothers, their enthusiasm for the New Mobility was overwhelmingly refreshing. As we got to know them better, we learned why.
Born and raised in Stuttgart, Germany - where the car was born in 1886 - Joe and Alex grew up expecting to work for Daimler, Porsche or Bosch. However, attracted by the opportunities in the software sector they ended up working for global software companies including SAP, Microsoft, CA and Infor.
As Marc Andreessen likes to say, “Software eats the World” and it seems that the automotive sector is for lunch. In the software industry the Renz brothers have experienced several transformational shifts including the web, social and mobile, as well as the shift to cloud computing. Alex was part of the early days of the “Internet of Things” (IoT) and initiated SAP’s sponsorship of the MIT Auto-ID Center in 2001. It was this work that triggered his interest in autonomous systems.
“Connected and autonomous vehicles are the ultimate IoT device,” says Joe Renz. “ And before long, vehicles will become their own economic agents and engage in the Machine-to-Machine economy. Our mission is to help startups, corporations and investors take advantage of the emerging opportunities.”
Plain and simple. The Renz brothers have both IT and cars in their DNA. Their passion and experience become highly relevant as software transforms mobility and transportation.