German startup Dance launches its subscription service in its hometown, Berlin. For a flat monthly fee of € 79 (about $ 93 at current exchange rates), users will get a custom-designed electric bike, as well as access to an on-demand repair and maintenance service.
Founded by the former founders of Soundcloud other Jimdo, the company managed to raise significant funds before launching its service. BlueYard led the startup’s seed round, while HV Capital (formerly known as HV Holtzbrinck Ventures) led Dance’s € 15 million Series A round, representing $ 17.7 million at the time.
The reason Dance needed so much capital is that the company has designed its own electric bike in-house. Called Dance One, it features an aluminum frame and weighs around 22 kg (48.5 pounds). It has only one speed and relies on its electric motor to help you go from 0 to 25 km / h.
And the best part is that you can remove the lithium battery and plug it in at home, something that VanMoof e-bikes desperately lack. This way, you won’t have to carry the entire bike up the stairs. People who live in apartments will appreciate that feature. Users can expect to charge the battery after driving for 55 km.
The Dance One uses a carbon belt so it doesn’t require a lot of maintenance. At the front of the bike, there is a built-in smartphone mount that should be compatible with popular cases designed for these types of mounts. You can control the level of electric assistance with buttons on the handlebar. There are three different modes: high assist, low assist, or no assist.
The bike comes with headlights and taillights that you can also activate with a button. When it comes to brakes, Dance has opted for hydraulic discs. Optionally, you can add a basket or saddlebags to the rear of the bike.
Like other popular VanMoof or Cowboy electric bikes, you can lock and unlock the Dance bike from a mobile app. The company has integrated GPS and Bluetooth chips into the bike’s frame. Of course, you must also use a traditional lock in addition to the smart lock.
On paper, it looks like a nice electric bike for city rides. Users must pay € 79 per month to access a bicycle. There is no time commitment or upfront fees. If you want to subscribe for the summer only, you can. If you have a problem with your bike, the company will send you a mechanic to fix it.
Dance has been testing the service with hundreds of beta users and there are now “thousands” of bikes available for new users. While the company is focusing on Berlin for now, it plans to expand to other German and European cities in the future.
Dance will compete with a handful of other services in Europe, such as Swapfiets, or Veligo in Paris. It will also compete indirectly with on-demand bike-sharing such as Lime and all the various public and private bike-sharing services across Europe. And of course some people will end up buying their own electric bike.
But Dance seems like a well-designed offering with an attractive bike and plenty of end-user flexibility. I’m sure the startup will have no problem finding clients looking for a seamless experience from start to finish.