Swedish Startup Space

Starbucks Challenger Raises $2.5 Million From The Creator of Gmail

Written by on April 27, 2016
Editors Note: This post is part of a series called Featured posts, presented by Breakit.

The creator of Gmail invests in the Swedish bicycle café.

We have previously reported that the founders of the Swedish advertising agency Studio Total, Per Cromwell and Tomas Mazetti, launched a startup consisting of bike cafés, called Wheely’s Café. The company has among other things been admitted to the prestigious incubator Y Combinator in Silicon Valley.

Now is the time for further expansion.

Maria De La Croix, CEO of Wheely’s, says to Breakit that the company has closed a financing round at the equivalent of $2.5 million (20 million SEK).

“Wheely’s has now expanded to 50 countries in less than a year without any money. We are excited to see what we can achive with a bank account,” she says to Breakit.

“We will use the money to continue to develop our bike cafés. We are already in 50 countries, on all continents, but we’ll get better and better.”

The investor group includes Paul Buchheit, who is the creator of Gmail, Othman Laraki (Color Genomics) Jared Friedman (Scribd), Justin Waldron (Zynga) and “a lot of other fantastic Silicon Valley people.”

“We are not exactly embarrased by them saying that they think we can be bigger than Starbucks, which is quite uninteresting in a way, it’s like comparing Uber to Taxi Stockholm.”

The company, which started in Malmö and Lund, has sold over 400 coffee shops to 50 countries. The company provides the bikes as well as a payment solution for the mobile café owners. The café owners can also handle purchasing and licensing via their app. Wheely’s charges a small fee on the transactions.

“We have doubled the number of coffee shops every six months. It feels great because we started building bicycle cafes in a basement in 2014. Now we have a factory in Shanghai where the bikes are made.”

The company has previously announced that it has the most users in Jordan. Right now, however, it’s fastest growing market is the U.S., where Wheely’s cafés can be found in for ecampel California, New Jersey and Florida.

“500 coffee shops are waiting to open in China. Our biggest problem right now is to meet the demand. We are shocked by the enormous interest.”

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