The funding will help the mobility sharing service tackle the twin goals of electrifying transportation and reducing carbon emissions from buildings
Kite Mobility, a Toronto-based “electric mobility as an amenity” platform with a novel focus on multi-family residential buildings, has landed significant funding to fuel its near-term growth.
Five organizations are investing $3.5 million in the four-year-old startup. Kite partners with real estate developers to install EVs, e-bikes and e-scooters in multi-unit residences.
“My reaction was a combination of relief, gratitude, and excitement,” says Scott Macwilliam, Kite’s founder, in an interview with Electric Autonomy, adding that the investments will give the company 12 to 18 months of runway to scale up the business.
“There is so much demand [from developers] that we can’t keep up with.”
Three members of the Low Carbon Cities Canada (L3C) network — the Atmospheric Fund (TAF), Alberta Ecotrust Foundation, and Greater Montreal Climate Fund — have committed $1 million to this funding round. The other $2.5 million comes from Good & Well, a boutique Toronto impact investment firm, and Enlightened Building Technologies, a Toronto-based company specializing in carbon reduction and renewable energy.
Kite Mobility’s origins
Six years ago, Macwilliam was completing an MBA at the University of Pennsylvania. He met a group of people who were launching e-bike and scooter rental services in California.
That group focused on having e-bikes and scooters available to everyone in the public, he said. Macwilliam, who previously worked for Nissan and Magna, visited his colleagues in California and was inspired to start a similar business by flipping the model on its head.
He officially launched Kite in 2019.
“There was a different way to approach this,” he says. “I thought there would be serious advantages if you centralized it and put it into the buildings themselves.”
Macwilliam imagined the centralized service would increase affordability for families and real estate developers and reduce carbon emissions.
Kite works by allowing tenants to book an EV, e-bike, or e-scooter in their building through an app.
“There’s nothing much more convenient than booking something, going down your elevator, and there it is,” Macwilliam says.
Developers, meanwhile, reduce their costs by building smaller parking garages. A single parking stall, based off digging and infrastructure costs, can cost up to $100,000, according to Macwilliam.
“We’ve had certain developers remove entire levels of parking,” Macwilliam says. “If you do the math and remove 400 spaces at $100,000 per space, that’s $40 million in savings per project.”
Business taking off
Kite has already partnered with over 50 developers in four Canadian markets: Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, and Vancouver.
Macwilliam says the new funding will help Kite fulfill contracts that it signed in more Canadian cities into 2024.
“We don’t have to go look for the business,” Macwilliam says. “It’s already signed. We just have to operationalize what we have signed on paper and then expand to additional markets.”
Speaking to Electric Autonomy, Kristian Knibutat, vice-president of impact investing at TAF, says the decision to fund Kite was made easier with its track record of successfully partnering with developers.
“They had already demonstrated, through working with developers, that this model works,” Knibutat says, adding that he liked Kite’s centralized model.
“There’s a convenience aspect to it,” he says. “Say, I’m in my condo or apartment and I decide to take a trip. I don’t have to go 10 blocks for some kind of public transit. [Kite’s vehicles] are downstairs, and I’ve got an app.”
Knibutat also says that the model will have a significant impact in reducing carbon emissions.
Analysis by TAF has found that Kite’s model — which will decrease the number of vehicle trips and construction of parking stalls — has the potential to reduce 200,000 tonnes of carbon in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area over the next 20 years.
If Kite meets is projected growth rates over the next three years, it says it will reduce annual CO2 emissions in Canada by 5,300 tonnes.
Kite’s model is one that Macwilliam hopes to implement outside of Canada.
Within the next two years, Macwilliam will be looking to secure more money to expand into the U.S. and central Europe.
“We have those [U.S] cities identified,” Macwilliam says. “We want to continue establishing ourselves as the Uber of this model.”