We spoke to Upway, a French refurbished e-bike startup

There are companies that grow faster than others. While the startup world is booming in France, some of them manage to stand out by offering a unique offer. This is particularly the case for Upway.

This young company, founded only in 2021, bases all its work around three main ideas: to develop an ecologically responsible solution that has a direct impact on the lives of users and that allows preserving the “industrial know-how” as defined by Toussaint Wattinne, one of the company’s two co-founders and a former regional director at Uber.

With Stephane Ficaja, who has worked with him in the past, this cycling enthusiast came up with the idea of ​​launching a company capable of offering quality products without asking for crazy amounts. ” We observed that in the e-bike market we had, on the one hand, very expensive new products and, on the other hand, a second-hand market with products in very poor condition”.

Upway: offering a quality second-hand solution

From this inventory, Upway was born. Today, the company is present through its online store in France and Belgium. It offers a wide selection of refurbished e-bikes at unbeatable prices: 20 to 60% cheaper than new ones.

If the second-hand market tends to have a bad image, Upway looks to offer high-quality bikes: “There’s really no standard for refurbishing e-bikes today, so we’ve established 20 checkpoints, to review the bike as demanding as possible.”

The idea is then to propose a solution that allows “to break with the car and carbon solutions, but also to make the economy circular and, finally and above all, to preserve French know-how, instead of importing finished products”, guarantees Toussaint Wattinne.

With a booming second-hand market and platforms like Vinted or Back Market, which are now worth millions, Toussaint Wattinne wanted to enter a market that was still quite empty, that of the electric bicycle.

© Upway

Known names among investors

Rather than outsourcing bike repair and reconditioning to third parties, Upway works only in-house, with professional mechanics. A qualitative method that requires funds and which therefore justified a large fundraising: in late May, Upway completed a 25 million Series A funding round, following a 5 million seed in November 2021.

Upway hopes to be able to develop, expand its facilities, its teams, but also extend its website to other countries such as the Netherlands and Germany, whose launch is imminent. Full of ambition, the company tries to convince a public used to buy new motorcycles.

With this fundraising, Upway managed to convince well-known investors from the world of startups such as Sequoia and Global Founders Capital, but also the Origins fund, created by Blaise Matuidi.

The professional football player and former PSG midfielder created this fund a few months ago to help professional athletes invest in projects that have a direct impact on people. When introducing Upway to the former football player, Toussaint Wattinne claims to have “checked all the boxes”, which explains Origins’ presence at the fundraiser.

upway founder

Stephane Ficaja (let) and Toussaint Wattinne (right) the two founders of Upway © Upway

Grow, export and recruit

Millions of euros that will allow the very young startup to develop a little further. In the words of its co-founder, these 25 million dollars will make it possible to open new factories to further expand the fleet of e-bikes available on the site.

This fundraising should also enable international development, and a launch of the company in the United States is also planned in the coming months.

Finally, that money will allow Upway to recruit. Fifteen vacancies are currently being filled at the company.“Both mechanics to work directly on the bike, developers for the site, but also operations managers based abroad.”

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