When Gogoro was founded in 2011, it was a small outfit with a team of 20 or so which set out only to build the software for battery swapping. What the team realised, says its co-founder and CEO Horace Luke, was that no one was building the battery they needed, or the battery swaping stations, or even the electric two wheelers themselves.
There was a certain “naiveness” then, he says, but “the determination to win enabled us to invest in those components” — and the result is a company that succeeded in commercialising electric two wheelers and battery swapping where those who had gone before had failed.
This is why he believes “the tougher the problem, the better it is solve… in the end, it willl be much more rewarding, financially or in your heart,” he says.
Horace Luke is the first guest in a new series, ‘Climate Tech in Asia’, launched by the Eco-Business podcast which will showcase trends, challenges and opportunities in the growing climate technology or ‘climate tech’ ecosystem in the world’s most populous region, featuring the leading thinkers and doers in this growing landscape.
Gogoro is Taiwan’s first unicorn, which listed on the Nasdaq in the United States last month through a SPAC (special purpose acquisition company) merger with Poema Global. It raised some US$335 million dollars at an enterprise value of more than US$2 billion.
The biggest challenge of pulling that off, he says, was that no one could travel during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, which made neogitations and meetings tough. Still, the start-up which counts former US vice president Al Gore and Singapore’s state investor Temasek among its investors, managed to get where it wanted to be — listed on the Nasdaq, as a testament to Asia’s potential in driving climate tech.
And having dominated Taiwan, its home country, in the two-wheeler battery swapping space, Gogoro has now set its sights on expanding in China, India and Southeast Asia, where hundreds of millions of people depend on bikes and scooters for mobility.
The electric scooter market value is forecasted to grow at a rapid pace over the next few years, reaching a value of $677 billion by 2028 and delivering a compound annual growth rate of 30 per cent, according to Research and Markets.
The company also recently announced it plans to launch Smartscooters and battery-swapping technology in Tel Aviv this year, with plans to expand in other Israeli cities.
Luke, who is also Gogoro’s chairman, was born in Hong Kong and raised in United States and was previously creative director of Windows XP at Microsoft. He then moved to Taiwan with HTC about 15 years ago, and subsequently picked Taiwan to be the location of his start-up because of the confluence of factors required to develop Gogoro’s technology, he says.
It is also an earthquake-prone territory situated near two tectonic plates, and a magnitude 6.1 earthquake happened to interrupt this podcast as it was taking place early last week.
To catch the action, tune in to the podcast where we speak to Luke on:
- why this is the decade of electro-mobility
- the changing regulatory environment for climate tech
- Asia’s climate tech landscape and the role of venture capital in the region
- the impact of geopolitical tensions such as the Russia-Ukraine war, and China-Taiwan relations on Gogoro’s expansion plans
- his enterpreneurship journey and advice to other founders in this space
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