Sophia Roediger is CEO and co-founder of bloXmove. As a business psychologist and author, she has been shaping innovation, transformation and marketing activities in the field of digital mobility for over seven years now. Most recently, she led the global Startup Hub as well as global transformation at Daimler Mobility. This year she is one of the finalists of the “Digital Female Leader Award”.
Tell us about your career so far. Which roads have brought you to where you are today?
Curiosity, the drive to manifest something new and ultimately we all can’t get around it: to follow the roads ourselves in a disciplined manner. This is where my parents play a big role, who let me go to the carnival as a little vampire and Superman and gave me the message: “you can create and be anything”. I started out in business psychology and always found interfaces as well as networks between people and technology in organizations exciting. This led me to Mercedes over a seven-year period in the innovation and startup departments, where I was able to build bridges between large corporations and small startup teams and we developed the topic of “mobility as a service.” A serious “tipping point” came three years ago when I had to rethink and reshape my entire life plan due to severe cancer. I came out of this phase with humility, liveliness and more willingness to take risks, and I appreciate the network of friends, family and mentors around me all the more – both privately and professionally.
From here on, it was clear I wanted to start up now, I didn’t want to put anything off – and that’s how the first company MountainMinds came about – a consultancy between digitalization and mindfulness; and then last year the founding of bloXmove – a mobility tech startup with which we are revolutionizing the mobility and energy sectors. “Bridge building” is a theme that runs through my career in terms of “social code” and “cognitive programming”.
What does bloXmove do exactly?
Our technical solution is a web3-based network infrastructure for mobility and energy. Here, we use decentralized identities, Ethererum smart contracts and a Corda-based B2B clearing/settlement component to give each mobility partner such as bus, train, scooter, bike and cab a decentralized knot in the infrastructure.
What does this entail? We network all these parties at transaction level in the background. No one loses their customer interface, because bloXmove is not an app provider – nevertheless, the different parties can now map the services of the desired other providers in their apps and offer them to their own customers – a journey from A to B becomes possible without having to start painful integration projects for the ONE SUPER app. Everyone onboards only once via an easy plug in.
This is how we revolutionize mobility, automate communication between all parties – and no one loses customer touchpoints to an aggregator, as we are currently seeing in structures with Uber, Free Now and co.
With the first 20 partners, we are starting to establish the Minimum Viable Ecosystem – moving away from the super app to a mobility service roaming solution.
Since when does bloXmove exist and what were your biggest successes within the past year?
bloXmove was established exactly one year ago after the successful technology management buy-out with Mercedes-Benz AG and as an independent start-up by us three founders. On 5/31/2022 we had our one year anniversary.
The biggest success was to build the best team by far with 25 bloXmovers. Of course, we are also proud of our first 20 partnerships, the first of which are already known with TIER, FLIX, 50hertz and the Energy Web Foundation. A few weeks ago, we went live with the first “Mobility Roaming Project” in Saxony, Germany – here, blockchain can be experienced in the showcase region by the students, who can then roam between train, bus, TIER and Mocci bike with their Mobility4all wallet – but just as well with any other app they already know as an entry point – that’s the new and different thing about a decentralized mobility space.
Last but not least, our 40,000 followers on social media channels are a superpower, because the community brings us together with exciting business contacts, talents and projects.
Most of our readers are not familiar with the blockchain topic. What is blockchain and why are you using the blockchain technology for your platform?
We can think of blockchain as a network of knots – each user, in our instance the mobility companies, represents one such knot. We build new, automated connections between the parties. This knot structure results in everyone at all times knowing that a transaction has occurred on the network. That is, the parties share a sub-ledger. The blocks now document the transactions in encrypted form.
Now imagine a multi-modal travel chain: you get on the train in Stuttgart and book the TIER scooter to the station, the DB ticket to Berlin, and a cab at the arrival point, as well as an e-Stepper to the hotel again via your local train app. You only pay once with your app provider. Now each party along this chain has to get the split amount. Remember the interconnected ledger infrastructure: in real time, not falsifiable and encrypted, every transport operator who has contributed now gets the account balanced.
This is one of the key reasons why we use decentralized technologies like blockchain in our use cases. There is nothing more efficient. Further network effects occur through the acceleration in the integration of new partners, because everyone only has to connect to the network once.
The principle of decentralized identities means that not every mobility company has to verify a customer again if another network partner has already done so. All of this reduces costs, which solves pain points, especially in the mobility service sector with small margins.
A final crucial point is the quality of decentralization – we like to say “stop aggregating, start collaborating”. Why? Because when aggregating, one super app always tries to interface with all customers and hence data, which brings power and thus the risk that one party ends up ruling the ecosystem. The medium to small mobility providers lose the customer interface on the one hand and shares of their revenue on the other. This would no longer be necessary in our mobility roaming world, which is a great opportunity, especially for the connection between the private and public sectors.
You are one of the “Digital Female Leader Award 2022” finalists. What does it mean to you to be seen, appreciated and honored by other women in the tech and mobility industry?
It is pure motivation, as by far not everyone appreciates it when we go into visibility and raise our voice for a topic like mobility and blockchain.
Being visible always means experiencing and enduring attack and vulnerability. Therefore, it is even more beautiful to also celebrate the positive feedback and see that we inspire others with what bloXmove is doing. I take my role as a mentor and networker for the topic #womenintech as well as basically more diversity in IT very seriously, try to cultivate the topic of education especially in the blockchain and crypto area and to position “technology made in Germany” internationally as a brand.
What makes me particularly happy is that I was nominated by a woman for the Digital Female Leader Award. And this is where I try to encourage each and every “heforshe” among us: above all, recommend your female role models for stages, interviews and job positions. And last but not least – keep your fingers crossed that I win the award in 2022.
In your opinion, what role does parking play in mobility chains?
This topic is essential and will become even more relevant in the future, especially if we are serious about realizing multi-modal mobility chains in cities. Above all, the infrastructure in cities must be transformed.
We need sufficient parking spaces, including for bikes, scooters, etc. In addition, we need to think of parking together with a charging infrastructure in the future and set up islands outside the cities from which green connection mobility must be available. In my eyes, parking must and will merge into the mobility ecosystem in the future. At best, you will no longer lose 30 minutes looking for a parking space in the city center, but rather like “beaming,” you will switch smoothly between the service offerings.
What role do privately owned cars in your vision of connected mobility? What role do private cars play in your vision of connected mobility?
A very exciting one, because as our holding name “Power & Mobility” suggests, we are convinced that mobility in the future can no longer be imagined without renewable energies. The e-car will take on a central network role as a mobile energy storage system. Why? Green energies have a challenge. They are less flexible, which means they can’t simply be switched on or off at the push of a button. On sunny days, we often have an oversupply that is sold expensively abroad, while in winter we have phases when green energy does not yet match demand.
These fluctuations can be balanced by new storage capacities such as car batteries: here, a Nissan Leaf with a full charge can keep a four-capita household self-sufficient for almost five days. Private cars can therefore become an integral part of smart home ecosystems in the future and help balance our energy grids.
bloXmove is involved here with partners such as 50hertz, Lichtblick, SAP and Energy Web Foundation in a wide range of pilot projects around “Charging” or “Vehicle 2 x”.
Even though you do not have a face to the customer – where can people already use or see your solutions?
We had a first go live in the Saxony region. Here, approximately 7,000 students at the University of Mittweida can already experience roaming with multiple service types. In Q3 and Q4, we can expect more go lives in the ecosystem. Ultimately, mobility companies will use our bloXmove infrastructure and services. For the end user on the road, we continue to remain invisible as a “powered by bloXmove” – just as evopark.
bloXmove is very international. In which countries do you see first movers and trailblazers and which nations are rather followers, when it comes to mobility?
“First movers” in our perception are on the one hand the Scandinavian countries and states, as well as Africa – Nigeria, which simply skip certain stages of development. Korea and China are also investing with a radicality in batteries and green mobility.
bloXmove has two market strategies for this reason: on the one hand the classic approach as in Germany and an “emerging market approach” as we have been testing in Nigeria for a few weeks. There, we see a completely different openness and technical affinity when it comes to direct P2P interaction between drivers and users. There is also a greater willingness to adapt to digital alternative currencies, which is why we are playing the topic of tokenization aka crypto much more strongly there than in Europe, for example.
Followers will be all those where mobility systems exist that somehow work and whose function brings a lot of benefits or profits to some roles in the network. I hope that in a country like Germany, which is rich in resources, we manage not to lose this technology trend of decentralized networks to others again and end up being annoyed that all the big platform providers spring from the U.S. or Asia.
A lot has changed within the mobility sector in the past few years. Which valuable experiences have you made in this industry throughout the years?
Fragmentation due to the multitude of partners is increasing more and more. It is both a curse and a blessing, because on the one hand, a mass of mobility parties means that our decentralized network technology finds just the right use case here, and on the other hand, we have to talk to countless, different parties.
Cities are talking at the table, alliances, public entities, private established providers as well as small new start-ups. In Germany in particular, we have created small principalities in the cities that make it very difficult to “think in an open ecosystem.” Currently, an incredible number of things are happening, but we are still at the beginning. The current emphasis on the mobility transition and the energy transition are giving the whole transformation a new driving force. We see great hope in our neighbors such as the Netherlands and Scandinavia – they are opening up their mobility, ticket sales and standardizing interfaces. We hope that Germany will also be inspired quickly.
From your perspective, how digital is the mobility sector nowadays and what can/should change?
Here, too, we have no one-size-fits-all approach. We work with companies like FLIX, TIER, or startups like Bondi that have entirely digital business models and platform-based services on the market – they know exactly how “digital” works and how to speak API.
Then again, there are many traditional companies like bus and rail whose system landscapes don’t allow for any technical integration. However, if we continue to send Excel lists, efficiency and digitization will not work. I would therefore guess a 6 on a scale of 1 ” non-digital” to 10 ” digital”. However, we are convinced that great leaps will be made in the coming months and years, otherwise we would not be here and where we are with bloXmove.
We see that from all directions the needs increase, when it comes to mobility budget solutions instead of company cars, when driven miles become transparent with CO2 reporting from companies and when we can think of new rewarding systems, for all those who move greener.
Whenever that happens, we need intelligent data analyses, digitization and, ideally, blockchain for tamper-proof documentation and billing.