Electric mobility startup Swft has raised $10 million in seed funding that it will use to expand its light-duty vehicle offerings, grow its team and scale its inventory management and supply chain systems. The company, which already has a deal to offer its three new e-bikes and new e-moped with Best Buy, is also on the lookout for more retail partnerships.
Swft officially launched in February 2020 as a direct-to-consumer business and developed over the past year within NYC-based venture advisory firm On Spec. It first brought electric hoverboards to market in December, followed by e-bikes and an e-moped in August. Now, as the company establishes itself as a brand, it's making quick moves to build out a complete line of personal EVs over the next 18 months, according to David Liniado, co-founder and CEO of Swft and co-founder of On Spec.
The young company joins the multitudes of e-bike manufacturers that are sustaining the increased demand in the industry, with strong competition from established companies like Rad Power Bikes, VanMoof, Cowboy and Aventon. Demand is likely to continue to remain high in the coming years, according to a report from market research firm NPD, which found that from July 2020 to July 2021, e-bike sales grew 240%, while general cycling equipment grew only 15%. If Swft can navigate global supply chain issues and meet that demand with its low-cost vehicles, it might be able to get a piece of that pie.
Liniado thinks logistics is where Swft has an edge. The CEO previously served as Cox Automotive's VP of new ventures and business development, which is where he got a taste for the freedom micromobility can afford. One of his co-founders, Joey Wahba was formerly the CEO of electronics manufacturing company DGL Group. Combined, the two were able to developed "a really comprehensive supply chain down to the parts," which has allowed Swft to secure at least 90% of its expected product from its vehicle manufacturing partners in China. Liniado says Swft is also on track to have all of its stock touch down on U.S. soil by Christmas, a true holiday miracle.
Expanding its lineup to reach more uses cases might help with that. In 2022, the scrappy startup intends to launch a street legal and an off-road e-motorcycle, which will be available for both consumers and commercial delivery partners. Swft also wants to build a low-speed four-wheel vehicle next year, something akin to a two-seat convertible, which Liniado says is currently being tested in the U.S.
"The last of our expansion plans is the development of a three-wheel vehicle that looks most like a Vanderhall, but with our own proprietary designs, that will be ready for launch in early 2023," Liniado told TechCrunch. "Due to our deep, longstanding relationships with our partners on the supply chain and product development side we're really excited about how they're all progressing."
Swft's supply chain savvy has not only helped the company secure vehicles, but Liniado says it's also the reason why the company can provide products at a rather nice price point. The Fleet e-bike, a beach cruiser and the Volt, a steel road bike, are both priced at $999, can hit top speeds of around 20 miles per hour and have a range of 37 and 32 miles, respectively. The heavier-duty, lowrider Zip, complete with fat tires, is priced at $1,399. For comparison, Rad Power Bikes' newest members cost around $1,999 for the RadRover 6 Plus and $1,799 for the RadCity 5 Plus.
"Our whole mantra with Swft is affordable luxury and bringing electric mobility to the masses," said Liniado.
Swft aims to have 10,000 riders in the United States by the end of this year and hopes to be "many-fold above that" for next year. To get there, Swft is investing in collabs with fashion brands to get the word out, as well as finding ways to provide potential buyers with ways to test vehicles, from rent-to-own models, more partnerships and pop-up Swft stores in the second half of 2022, according to Liniado.
The company has aggressive plans for the future, says Liniado, so more funding will be needed soon in order to make all these dreams a reality. In the first quarter of next year, Swft aims to raise a Series A between $25 million and $50 million. Its current round of funding comes from strategic angel investors Martin Lauber, managing partner of 19 York, Mark Joseph, CEO of Mobitas Advisor and formerly CEO of Transdev and David Zwick, managing director of RedCap Technologies.