[Startup story] Palmo | Rubik Garage Accelerator 2022 Batch

[Startup story] Palmo | Rubik Garage Accelerator 2022 Batch

August 5, 2022

Palmo is one of the 22 startups selected in the Rubik Garage accelerator 2022 Batch, from over 120 international applicants. Discover its story below. 

First of all, we would like to know who’s behind the keyboard.

We are mission-driven, experienced B2B-builders who combine transport expertise with the technical skills required to pull this off. I (Rytis Jakubauskas) have been working on this problem for about a year. This included successfully launching the German market of LEV firm Zoomo in 2021, supporting Doordash in their launch, and working closely with Flink, etc. 

I became fascinated by sustainable transport at Danish mobility firms Drivr (Uber, but with fleet partners) and Spiri (Ridesharing with own LEVs), where I was Head of Commercial from 2014 to 2017. In between, I built Latana, a B2B-martech that I grew from scratch to 2m+ € ARR and 50+ people in 2 years (lead investor is Balderton), which I left a year ago to focus on this.

Ionut Mistreanu is our CTO and has started 2 companies: Crowdlens (B2B on-premise real-time computer vision on CCTV cameras) and Myfocusspace (global remote coworking space). He is a full-stack developer with 10 years of wide-ranging experience incl. web, mobile & ML. He has also worked as a deep learning engineer (at LG) and as a product manager. His expertise is very well aligned with what is required to solve this problem: a set of large-scale web systems, incl. front-ends, as well as a strong focus on optimisation & ML. 

Tell us more about Palmo. What problem do you solve? Who’s your audience?

Palmo is a network for urban logistics on light electric vehicles (LEVs). By aggregating fleets and using purpose-built (optimisation) tech, we are working on lowering the cost of sustainable delivery from within the city by 5x+ and replacing vans on a large scale. 

As a two-sided platform, we connect 1) retailers that ship from within the city with 2) independent LEV fleets that can deliver various goods for multiple retailers. The crucial part is the aggregation of orders in real-time, which requires sophisticated optimisation technology. 

Urban retailers get significantly cheaper delivery costs (goal is <3€) and can move large volumes to sustainable logistics, while fleet partners get significantly improved income opportunities from the higher volumes. 

What motivated you to create this startup? What’s your „why”?

Driven by double-digit growth in ecommerce, delivery vans externalities’ keep increasing at a rapid pace. Because over 90% of them are diesel-powered, they are responsible for ~3% of EU CO2 emissions and ~50% of air pollution

A much better solution are light electric vehicles (LEVs) that operate in combination with microhubs, as they beat vans on emissions, pollution, speed, congestion and many other criteria. Our mission is to rapidly accelerate their adoption and help clean up our cities and climate.

How is your startup different from competitors?

Our approach is unique in the fairly new LEV logistics vertical. Ultimately, urban retailers will have to choose between us, and “regular” LEV delivery firms.

The main difference is that they are delivery businesses (or “carriers” in logistics terms), whereas we are an aggregator (a “freight forwarder”). They use off-the-shelf tech and mostly focus on operations and running their own fleet. Because they have to go city-by-city and client-by-client, they have a hard time getting to scale, which means costs remain high (6-10$ per delivery). And retailers have the pain of managing dozens of partners and integrations.

We, on the other hand, focus on (optimization) technology and aggregating existing fleets, as well as recruiting new ones at a later stage. This should allow us to get to scale quicker and drive down the costs, particularly through aggregation and real-time pooling of orders. And in addition, retailers only have one partner and integration to manage, that can scale with them to new markets.

Do you have a team supporting you in your mission?

We have a part-time quantum information theory PhD who’s been developing our optimisation algorithm, and a few other supporters who believe in the mission and have been helping us on various parts of the business.

Palmo co-founders

What are the biggest rewards of being a startup founder?

Being able to create meaningful impact.

On the contrary, what are the biggest challenges?

Going from zero to one is not for the faint-of-heart and requires a lot of grit.

What made you apply to our accelerator Rubik Garage?

Getting exposure to the Romanian ecosystem for future hiring perspectives.

Help with intros to Climate VCs.

What are your top 3 learnings of the acceleration program?

  1. The value of team building.
  2. How to pitch more effectively
  3. Product strategy

What do you like in the Rubikorns Startup Community?

The quality of the founders is higher than expected. People are willing to help.

What are your plans for Palmo for the next 6-12 months?

Continue to commercialize our first product and add more fleets and retailers onto our network. Aside from that, do our first round of funding and expand the team.

What message do you have for other startup founders?

Focus on problems that really matter for the planet & society.

What is your special power?

We love what we do and have endless grit.

We encourage you to support Palmo and follow their journey on Linkedin.

Stay tuned to discover the story behind the other startups from the Rubik Garage accelerator! #WeAreInThisTogether

Rubik Garage is an equity-free acceleration program aiming to support startups from CEE. We are helping early-stage startups get to their first paying customer, raise investment or go international.

The accelerator started with a Founders Bootcamp in Piatra Neamt. Four months of acceleration will culminate with a Demo Day in September, where startups get the chance to pitch their startup in front of investors. For the most motivated teams, the journey will continue in the next 6-12 months – our team will offer their full support to help them raise an investment round.

If you want to pre-apply for the next Rubik Garage edition, complete this form and be the first one to get the chance of starting their acceleration journey!