Robert Falck is the CEO and founder of Einride, a tech start-up bent on the sustainable transformation of the transportation industry, developing an intelligent road freight system based on all-electric, autonomous trucks, or Pods. Before founding Einride in 2016, Mr. Falck was a director of manufacturing engineering assembly at Volvo GTO Powertrain. A serial entrepreneur, he is a co-founder of Vnu, a nightclub business intelligence solution, The Great Wild, a hunting app, and Keyflow, an event service platform.
Mr. Falck holds a B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering, a B.Sc. in Economics and finance, and a B.Sc. in business.
In an exclusive interview with AsiaTechDaily, Robert Falck said:
"I saw how we used automated, electric vehicles in our factories. If we could do that on public roads, if we could combine self-driving technology, which had quickly matured, with an electric powertrain, we could transform how road freight transport is done and introduce a more sustainable, safe and efficient solution. But the big truck manufactures are stuck in old structures and systems and have invested heavily in the diesel engine and the truck and business model around it. I therefore knew change would take time. I decided to leave the company and then started Einride with my fellow co-founders Linnéa Kornehed and Filip Lilja."
Read on to know more about Robert Falck and his successful journey at Einride.
Please tell me about your personal background, and what are you working on currently?
Robert Falck: My family comes from a long line of sea captains and I was born on a farm, North of Gothenburg, on the Swedish west coast. I sort of broke from tradition and studied at the Chalmers University of Technology, earning a bachelor’s and master’s degree in mechanical engineering. I also hold bachelor’s degrees in both finance and business from the Gothenburg School of Economics.
I have always had a curious mind and is something of a serial entrepreneur and have founded several startups, a nightclub business intelligence solution, a hunting app, and an event service platform, among them.
My most recent job before starting Einride was that of director of manufacturing engineering assembly at Volvo GTO Powertrain.
What motivated you to get started with your company?
Robert Falck: That goes back to my time at Volvo. My role there gave me a lot of insights into the effects of diesel-powered trucks on society, environment and business. I was particularly concerned about the environmental damages caused by CO2 emissions and other harmful emissions for humans, like NOx.
Meanwhile, I saw how we used automated, electric vehicles in our factories. If we could do that on public roads, if we could combine self-driving technology, which had quickly matured, with an electric powertrain, we could transform how road freight transport is done and introduce a more sustainable, safe and efficient solution. But the big truck manufactures are stuck in old structures and systems and have invested heavily in the diesel engine and the truck and business model around it. I therefore knew change would take time. I decided to leave the company and then started Einride with my fellow co-founders Linnéa Kornehed and Filip Lilja.
How have you attracted users and grown your company from the start?
Robert Falck: It is quite simple. We offer transport intensive companies a business model for going sustainable.
What’s your business model, and how have you grown your revenue? What strategy worked best?
Robert Falck: We deliver transport service to forward leaning transport intensive companies in a range of different industries, from retail, forestry to manufacturing and shipping.
How much money (funding) have you raised in total so far? When was the recent funding round?
Robert Falck: We announced our series A-round of $25 million earlier this fall, which brings total funds raised to $32 million.
How do you decide when to go out for fund-raising? What were the internal decision processes in determining when to begin fund-raising, and what were the logistics for this?
Robert Falck: We want to transform an entire industry so raising funds is something we do on a continuous basis. We have had great backers from the start and when the time was right and we felt we had proven our concept, we initiated our series A-round, to be able to accelerate commercialization of our autonomous, electric transport system. We met with several investors and found the right fit in EQT Ventues and NordicNinja VC, two great partners that can help us take Einride to the next level.
How many investors have you met so far and which among them have invested in your past funding rounds? And how long does it take on verage to finalize the each funding round?
Robert Falck: We have met several investors both in Europe, US and Asia. It is always hard to predict how long a round will take to close, but I can say this: always longer than you think.
How did you meet these investors and which channels worked best for you?
Robert Falck: Going out and meeting people is important. We have met investors at differed types of events. All the media buzz around Einride has also led to a lot of inbound interest, where they have come knocking on our door.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced and obstacles in the process of fund-raising? If you had to start over, what would you do differently? (Your insight or advice on this would be very helpful for startups)
Robert Falck: We build a system for managing fleets of autonomous, electric vehicles. But we have a great looking truck that attracts a lot of interest, so we have had to explain a bit around what we do and our business model. We are a software first company that deliver services. We design and develop the hardware but have partners for manufacturing. I do not think we would have changed anything in our communications, because the design of our Pod has opened a lot doors, but definitely think about what perception you are building aroura your company and business model. That is especially important to investors.
What are your milestones for the next round? What are your goals for the future?
Robert Falck: Our focus now is clear. Accelerate commercialization of our autonomous, electric transport system. That means both organizational growth and continued investments in Einride’s software platform as well as further international expansion, allowing us to keep on building demand for sustainable transport and delivering on our growing customer base with major global players like logistics provider DB Schenker, supermarket chain Lidl and large US based transport intensive companies.
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