Mr. Gindrat, you are the CEO of a successful Swiss startup. What is your business model?
Our main value proposition is to provide a technology that allows several autonomous vehicles to work together in a sustainable and efficient way. Our customers are transit agencies, taxi providers but also campuses, airports, hotels or industrial sites. A good example to explain our system is the airport: each plane has its own autopilot, which makes it already pretty intelligent. But as soon as there are several different planes in a given airport, you need a control tower to orchestrate them smoothly.
Our business model is simple: We charge a monthly fee per vehicle that we can adapt depending on the number of options and features requested by the customer. Our technology and our business model are flexible, allowing us to respond to specific needs.
As a Swiss start-up, how do you stand up to high competition?
I think we can stay competitive by being independent because it is important to have a system like ours that is agnostic in order to manage different brands of vehicles in the same fleet or the same city. Furthermore, we've managed to build up unique knowledge and experience and continue to invest a lot in research and development. Last but not least, it is also a matter of speed and of finding the right partners and investors.
What is your vision as a company?
We want to provide the best technology for self-driving transportation solutions in smart cities. Our aim is to deploy our system widely, from buses, to taxis, delivery vehicles, or even robots, and in as many cities as possible. For this, it is important to have the right partners. For example, we have to make sure that our technology is compatible with big car manufacturers.
How do you tackle new export markets?
One of our first criteria is to find countries that will assist us in the deployment of automated vehicles. The legal framework is not yet in place but some countries give special authorizations in order to allow pilot projects. Our technology is in use in France, Germany and soon in the United States, Australia and Qatar. As of next year, we expect to be present in the U.S., in Singapore and most likely in Japan. It's also a matter of where your partners are. Furthermore, we are in the lucky position where companies often directly reach out first.
How do global trends such as population growth and urbanization influence your future business?
Traffic jams, pollution and an increasing number of accidents are mobility problems for big cities around the world. The very goal of our industry is to come up with a smart and effective solution for these challenges. In the long run, we also aim to provide such a sustainable, effective and cheap transportation system that people no longer feel the need to possess their own cars. This would reduce traffic, pollution and congestion in the city to a great extent.
How do you push innovative processes in your company?
In a new industry such as ours, it is complex because the needs of our customers are not yet clear. Our processes are therefore iterative, we develop and deliver a feature, test it with a customer and adapt it depending on their reaction. We need to be flexible, it is no longer possible to work with a three-year long roadmap. We know where we want to go with our product but we have to take feedbacks from our partners and customers into account along the way.
What would you recommend traditional Swiss SMEs with regards to the fast digitization of business models, products and services. How can they keep pace?
I believe it is important to remain open and positive about transition. One or two years ago, automated vehicles were still science fiction for a lot of people. Today, it is already becoming a reality. This shows that an industry can change a lot in a short amount of time. I believe the key is to acknowledge it and make the best out of it.
About Raphael Gindrat
Raphael Gindrat is the CEO and co-founder of BestMile. He graduated from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) in 20140. He holds a Master's degree in Civil Engineering with a specialization in Transportation. Raphael's expertise comes from his early involvement in the world of autonomous mobility. During the last year of his studies, he worked for the EPFL vice-presidency, focusing on the European project CityMobil2.
BestMile is revolutionizing mobility by providing the first platform allowing for the intelligent operation and optimization of autonomous vehicle fleets, regardless of their brand or type. It manages both scheduled trips and on-demand service, and uses cutting-edge algorithms, to send optimized missions to the vehicles and seamlessly handle planning, dispatching, routing, and battery charging management.
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