Never a dull moment
"I've always liked to talk a lot," Nicola laughs. "When my father drove me to kindergarten, he wanted a screen divider like they have in taxis; just so that there would be peace and quiet. But, being quiet really isn’t an option for me!” As Co-Founder/ COO at Mobiko, she bears responsibility in a business management capacity and is only just learning to delegate. She laughs again. “Delegating is not my strong suit," she says. "I love doing and implementing things myself, but I need to rethink being on the road less operationally."
Are company cars and public transport tickets still keeping up with the times, or is an individually applicable, digital mobility budget better suited to today's needs?
Hitting the road
That's what Mobiko is concerned about: how and by what means do people travel to and from work? Can we give them more flexibility? Are company cars and public transport tickets still keeping up with the times, or is an individually applicable, digital mobility budget better suited to today's needs?
"When we founded Mobiko at the beginning of 2018, we were ahead of our time. There was hardly any pressure from a political perspective to deal with a “mobility turnaround” and this was similarly the case for employers, Nicola points out. "But now in the context of climate targets, that's bound to change. How can employees get to and from the office flexibly and as climate-neutrally as possible? Such considerations offer a lot of potential, but only a fraction of it is being used."
Mobility, motorcycles and mechanical engineering
Mobility is a common thread throughout Nicola's life and one through which she defines and expresses herself. As a child, she poked around motorcycle shows with her father, and sure enough, today she has the license to drive them. Her first car, a BMW Mini “is a small, assertive vehicle and wonderful fit for me." Nicola drove it while she studied business administration with mechanical engineering in her hometown of Munich. She then joined an automotive supplier in Stuttgart in her mid-20s, working in corporate strategy. Afterwards, she worked with startups and found herself in investment circles and deals with corporate venture capital funds. "I was passionate about these topics, but felt on the sidelines. So, something different was needed, and that's what I found at Audi Business Innovation in 2017."
Breaking the corporate mould.
Together with her colleagues, Nicola tinkered with digital business models for the parent company and stumbled upon the idea for Mobiko two months later. "I was on fire from the very beginning, and the project taught me to put myself out there. Her boss supports her further development as a coach and in February
2018 the time has come: Mobiko spins off independently. "This was and is the ultimate challenge," Nicola enthuses. "Getting out of the corporate structures and into creating. We as a small team have all had the same mission since the pilot phase: 'We're building this company together - an incredibly powerful spirit.' Finally, we were able to solve problems ourselves because we were our bosses. Before, we had to wait for others to decide."
Getting out of the corporate structures and into creating. This was and is the ultimate challenge! We're building this company together - an incredibly powerful spirit.
"Risks don't limit me."
To this day, Nicola doesn't feel pressure and sees running her own business as an adventure. She knows the company, she knows the market, she has an overview and is focused on the goals Mobiko needs to achieve. Nicola, has always also been in the automotive field and is very much aware of how to hold her own in an industry dominated by men.
"I always think in terms of possibilities," she emphasises. "Risks don't bother nor limit me much. Today, there are almost 25 of us at Mobiko, and we are growing by 1-2 colleagues every month. Our cooperation is based on an open feedback culture where problems are formulated quickly and transparently. This work-style approach means employees also have to learn to take on direct feedback but that's the only way we can move forward."
"Partners like Baloise are worth their weight in gold. We benefit from the Mobility Team's great know-how and receive neutral advice when we face challenges. In addition, our network is growing - it's striking how many new contacts we've been able to make since we got Baloise on board as an investor. Such collaboration acts as a stamp of quality."
Growth and new partners
In the meantime, Mobiko is no longer only being contacted by small companies, but also by large corporations. "Employers are starting to understand that they need to address their mobility concepts and seriously consider sustainability in this competitive labor market," she says. "Investors are also taking notice," Nicola continues. "If we were already ahead of our time in 2018, I would argue, we have arrived today."