WeMo strives to make Taiwan role model in global digital economy

Ambrose Huang, DIGITIMES, Taipei

Co-Founder & Vice Chairman of WeMo Scooter, Jeffrey Wu

Founded in 2015, WeMo Scooter provides new transportation alternatives to city dwellers by embracing visions of sharing economy, green energy, and environmental conservation. Having previously studied abroad and worked at international corporations, Mr. Jeffrey Wu, founder and Vice Chairman of WeMo Scooter, pointed out that, compared with countries such as Israel, the startup environment in Taiwan has its unique environmental factors but shows no major discrepancies. However, the key to the variance in startup performance can be found in execution.

To an entrepreneur, having a vision is everything. By upholding its intention to "make city living more wonderful," for the past seven years, WeMo has been committed to enhancing the utilization of electric scooters, reducing idle vehicles in cities, reducing global air pollution with green energy, and making more public space available in cities via its real-time electric scooter rental services.

Mr. Wu wishes that the government can formulate clear policies and directions for the development of the country for the next five to ten years. At the same time, he also wants the government to pay more attention to the development of digital economy industry other than high-tech sectors such as semiconductors, information and communications technology (ICT), and wafer production. He believes that the development of startups would certainly benefit if the government could provide clearer guiding principles.

Currently, the incentives, investments, and policies of the Taiwanese government for the entrepreneurial industry are mostly provided on an "equal shares for all" basis. Nevertheless, such diversified strategy also detracts from the effective use of manpower, materials, resources, and funding, as it offers very limited benefits to startups that are widely involved in many industries. Mr. Wu believes that the government needs to take a step further and change their mindsets when it comes to supporting the development of startups. Rather than "equal shares for all", the government could set an overall objective for every five to ten years, during which it would work toward developing a new economy, and thereby promoting the overall prospects of the new economy.

Speaking of partnerships between corporates and startups, Mr. Wu believes that since the common practice tended to focus on hard skills in the past, startups must focus on their soft skills and data analytical skills if they wanted to foster a partnership with corporates. Take WeMo Scooter for instance. Over the past six years, data collected by its mobile vehicles is one-of-a-kind. On top of information concerning its riders, WeMo Scooter has also acquired data on movements, including movements from one place to another, transportation trails within cities, and mobile transportation data of its users.

Soft skills and data analytical skills can help make a startup irreplaceable. Mr. Wu emphasized that WeMo Scooter hopes to achieve even better performance in terms of data acquisition in the future, such as collecting more data related to cities. Such data will range from cityscape, gases, oscillation, to temperature, humidity and more. It will collaborate with regional governments, which can plan city management measures ahead based on such data. On top of reducing the occurrence of accidents, such as the gas explosion in Kaohsiung, it can also help cities engage in long-term development planning, thereby improving the cityscape.

As for fluctuations in the capital market in 2022, Mr. Wu believes that the most important thing to founders of startups is to "stabilize cash flows". Since the venture capital environment in Taiwan has always been more conservative than the international market, founders must plan ahead to stabilize their cash flows when dealing with economic recessions and market downturn.

In addition to fluctuations in the capital market, it is also undeniable that the disastrous COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect the business development of startups in various industries. As for potential scenarios of global expansion, Mr. Wu expressed that his company is looking for different possible avenues. Nevertheless, what remains unchanged is WeMo's belief in integrating the soft and hard skills of Taiwan to continuously spread the vision of "making city living more wonderful" from the corners of Taiwan to different cities throughout the world.

Readers can download " 2022 Taiwan Startup Ecosystem Survey" jointly conducted by PwC Taiwan, TIER and DIGITIMES: