Luup’s Vision of a Walk-Free City: Japanese E-Scooter Startup Raises $68 Million

Redefining Urban Mobility with First and Last-Mile Transportation

Luup Founder and CEO Daiki Okai stands beside Luup scooters.
Luup Founder and CEO Daiki Okai stands beside Luup scooters.

The Future of Urban Mobility

Luup, the trailblazing Japanese electric scooter startup, has recently secured $68 million in funding with a vision to revolutionize urban transportation. The enterprise is driven by the belief of its founder and CEO, Daiki Okai, that an ideal city would minimize walking by interconnecting every location – from gas stations to office buildings.

Luup: A New Approach to Micromobility

Established in 2018 by the 29-year-old University of Tokyo graduate, Luup seeks to facilitate “first and last-mile transportation,” enabling people to travel freely without the need to walk. The idea originated from Okai’s desire to expedite the commute of elderly caregivers to their patients, especially in regions with limited access to train stations.

Luup, which made Forbes Asia’s 100 to Watch list last year, has since become a leader in the realm of micromobility in Japan. Micromobility refers to lightweight vehicles, such as electric bicycles and scooters, designed for short-distance travel.

Bridging Distances with Smart Micromobility

Operating in six Japanese cities, Luup boasts a fleet of 10,000 e-bikes and scooters. Through its app, with over 1 million downloads, users can find nearby ports and rent e-bikes or scooters. The cost of this service is approximately $7 per hour, presenting a practical alternative to walking.

Commuters riding Luup's e-scooter and e-bike. COURTESY OF LUUP

Luup’s significant network of parking hubs allows users to conveniently use scooters for short journeys, such as commuting to the nearest train station. This model sets Luup apart from American counterparts like Bird and Lime, who operate a “dockless” model, which, while convenient, has higher risk of damage or theft.

Financial Backing and Expansion Plans

Luup’s recent funding round of 4.5 billion yen ($33.5 million) significantly boosted the company’s total funds to 9.1 billion yen ($68 million). The startup anticipates profitability within one to two years and plans to triple its number of stations to 10,000 by 2025.

This development comes on the heels of e-scooter law reforms in Japan, which will broaden scooter use. Luup plans to expand to several other major cities in Japan within the year, leveraging this legislative shift.

Facing Competition and Looking Ahead

Despite dominating the Japanese e-scooter market, Luup faces competition from other emerging providers, including SoftBank-backed OpenStreet’s Hello Mobility and Seoul-based startup Swing.

However, Luup is also exploring new mobility options, including vehicles for the elderly and disabled, potentially with automated features.

“Micromobility is just the first step to what we aim to accomplish,” says Okai. “There are a lot of services that can be based on the network that we have…anything that can solve problems in our everyday lives.”

Forbes Staff

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