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Founder Micah Bergdale on How Joulez is Bringing Vehicle Rentals into the Future

Introduction

Electric vehicles (EVs) are becoming more common and affordable. But to those who need a rental car, they can be hard to find. A quick search in my area revealed that there was only one electric vehicle available, and it’s not available for more than two weeks. 

The founder of Joulez, Micah Bergdale, saw this shortage as an opportunity to start a company that focused solely on providing rental EVs. We spoke with him about his vision, team, and future goals for Joulez. 

Note: This interview was conducted over phone and email. It has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Xiaowen Chen

What inspired you to take the leap and start Joulez?

Micah Bergdale

I believe that transportation has to be electrified in order for us to save the planet. I saw a major gap in how rental car operators are managing EVs, and it was creating a challenge for this transition to EVs.

Xiaowen Chen

How is your experience as the CEO of Bytemark (acquired by Siemens) helping you grow Joulez?

Micah Bergdale

Bytemark was a software company focused on transportation providers. I knew that I was uniquely qualified to help build a company around EV technology, specifically how to integrate connected EVs to a larger transportation infrastructure. The future is multimodal (mass transit, e-bikes, e-scooters, and EVs), and the only way to optimize EVs is to integrate them into the larger transportation ecosystem of specific metro areas starting with New York City (NYC).

Xiaowen Chen

Who is on your team and how did you come together?

Micah Bergdale

Melanie Artaleis one of the key team members who I work with as part of the Joulez team. She worked with me at Bytemark as our lead project manager, and she is helping me manage operations. Samuel Polanco leads our fleet management, and I recruited him through LinkedIn after being impressed with his background of working with dealerships in the NYC metro area for their EV rollouts.

Xiaowen Chen

What does the competitive landscape look like, and how do you differentiate?

Micah Bergdale

Joulez faces competition from traditional rental car companies, but most of these companies have been slow to transition to EVs. Even with Hertz’s most recent announcement, they will only have 25% of their fleet as EVs at the beginning of 2025. We think there is a huge challenge for rental car companies that are not 100% focused on EVs because EVs require a unique user experience and engagement, but when 75%, 85%, 95% of your fleet is gas based, it is hard to focus on an amazing user experience for the minority of your customers.

Xiaowen Chen

What milestones did you achieve in the last six months?

Micah Bergdale

Our fleet is 45 vehicles and growing. We now have locations in the Bronx and Queens. We have launched our website and our own custom vehicle management platform that we are iterating on every single week with amazing new features.

Xiaowen Chen

How do you intend to use the money you raise this round to scale the business?

Micah Bergdale

We plan to expand our fleet and dramatically increase the amount of software development output for integration with various original equipment manufacturers.

Xiaowen Chen

As you think about the business 5-10 years down the road, what do you see exit opportunities looking like? Have you set any future goals for the company?

Micah Bergdale

We think we are likely to be bought by one of the rental car majors who need to have a great experience around EV rentals.

We look forward to seeing where Micah and his team take the company. Joulez is currently raising capital on Wefunder.

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About: Xiaowen Chen

Xiaowen is an enthusiastic and dedicated investment analyst about startup investing and sustainable impact investing. Prior to KingsCrowd, she participated in Berkeley Entrepreneurship Summer Program to enhance her knowledge about the structure of establishing a startup company, then transferred her learning knowledge to analyze every startup investing opportunity. Xiaowen enjoys reading private equity books, and watching financial documentaries in her free time. Currently, Xiaowen is an undergraduate student at UC Berkeley, majoring in economics and minoring in Data Science.

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