Brazil Motorbike Rental Startup Attracts Hedge Funds, Raises $40M

Mottu received $30 million in an equity round with participation from Tiger, and $10 million in debt from Luis Stuhlberger’s Verde Asset

Startup Mottu has raised $40 million in a Series B and debt. Photo: Courtesy / Mottu
June 30, 2022 | 06:29 PM

Bloomberg Línea — Chase Coleman’s Tiger Global Management continues to invest in startups, even despite losses that have already reached 52% this year.

The firm’s hedge fund sank 14.2% in May, with losses in several stocks and substantial markdowns in its private assets, according to a letter to investors seen by Bloomberg News and a person with knowledge of the case.

Nevertheless, São Paulo-based startup Mottu, which rents combustion engine motorbikes to app-based delivery riders, received $30 million in a Series B equity round led by foreign funds such as Base Partners, Crankstart, and Sequoia partner Michael Moritz, with participation from Tiger Global Management. All the investors had participated in the company’s $20 million Series A in January 2021, and have now doubled their stake in the startup.

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Mottu also received $10 million in debt from Brazil’s biggest hedge fund Verde Asset Management, which is owned by Luis Stuhlberger, also a previous investor.

Founded by Rubens Zanelatto, Mottu launched in January 2020.

“I realized that a lot of people were delivering with bicycles because they didn’t have the credit to buy their own motorbike,” Zanelatto said in an interview with Bloomberg Línea.

Zanelatto designed a business model in which he buys the bikes and rents them to delivery drivers working for apps such as iFood and Rappi.

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“At first everyone said it would be too much a risk of default, that they would steal the bikes, but we created a security system so that the bike wouldn’t be stolen, or that if people don’t pay the rent we could block the bikes, and that worked very well,” he said.

The deliverers pay about 30 reais ($5.71) per day to rent the motorbikes and payments must be made weekly. Mottu covers any expenses for maintenance and support services in case of accidents.

In its first year of operation, with 60 people on staff, Mottu earned $2 million in annual recurring revenue. The annual recurring revenue was $10 million at the end of last year.

Today, Zanelatto says Mottu has 10,000 motorbikes rented in eight cities in Brazil, as well as in Mexico City, plus 400 people on the team. With the new round, the startup is hiring, against the tide of layoffs by other technology companies, with layoffs already totaling more than 2,000 in Brazil, according to LayoffsBrasil.com.

“Companies that are growing a lot with positive unit economics are not feeling this challenge [funding difficulties] as much as other companies that have not yet managed to prove their business. In our case, investors believe very much in what we are building,” Zanelatto said.

Mottu’s business is capital intensive, as it is necessary to buy the motorbikes to rent to the delivery drivers.

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“The round will go to financing the acquisition of motorbikes and increase the technology team to work on the automation of all processes,” he said.

Zanelatto aims to have a fleet of 50,000 rented motorbikes by the end of the year.