Singapore’s sidewalks are about to get a lot more crowded. Beam, co-founded by the former Asian chief for Chinese bike-sharing giant Ofo Inc., has raised $6.4 million from investors including Sequoia India to deploy its electric scooters around the island nation.
Beam just closed a seed funding round led by Sequoia India, Founders Fund, ZhenFund and Class 5 Global, Beam said in a statement. Its other backers include Arbor, Insignia, 500 Startups, Gobi and K2 Global. The financing will help bankroll a fleet of e-scooters manufactured by Segway Ninebot, backed by smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp.
The announcement comes the same day Stockholm-based Northzone Ventures — an early investor in Spotify and iZettle — announced it had led an investment of 25 million euros ($28.7 million) into Berlin’s Tier Mobility, which already has scooters on the streets of Vienna.
Beam, whose co-founder also headed up Indonesia for Uber Technologies Inc., is trying to replicate the success of Bird Rides Inc. and Lime in Asia. While those American startups have scaled quickly after raising massive amounts of money, they have yet to arrive in the region. In perennially muggy Singapore however, e-scooters are already becoming a popular — if occasionally divisive — mode of transportation among food delivery people and city commuters.
“We want to change the fundamental way that people move around Asian cities,” Chief Executive Officer Alan Jiang said in the statement. He previously led Ofo’s Asia Pacific operations and served as Uber’s country manager in Indonesia.
Beam plans to roll out its service in coming weeks before eventually taking the platform to Malaysia, Australia and South Korea. Consumers will use the service by locating and unlocking a scooter using their phones. They’ll pay S$1 (72 U.S. cents) to start with, then 15 Singaporean cents a minute, with no deposit required. Similar to the U.S. e-scooter firms, Beam plans to provide financial incentives to people who can locate, charge and redistribute the scooters.
Beam said its other backers include Pascal Capital, Maloekoe Ventures and Cherubic Ventures.