EV Leaders: Jan Simmonds, Chief Strategy Officer at Zimbl

Jan joined the founder team at Zimbl mid 2023 as Chief Strategy Officer to help the founders scale the company exponentially. He has already introduced several multi-million-pound partner opportunities with national developers, local authorities and hospitality organisations. Simultaneously, he’s helping to introduce funding capital and experience at the right pivot points. This includes UK and US investors, where he has a decade long track record.

With a successful early career as a leading international entertainment business manager and subsequently many years in the UK/ US tech sector; Jan has played a key role in scaling many notable artistic careers and companies in both industries. As a founder member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for AI, he is also an avid sailor and a dedicated climate change campaigner.

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Jan is driven to find exceptional talent and innovators and build them the right pedestals for maximum success. He recently said he gets more of a buzz now helping Richard and the other founders at Zimbl change the world one less car/ten more users at a time, than seeing any of his past managed acts on stage at Wembley Arena or Madison Square Gardens.

What sparked your interest in EVs and their role in transforming transportation?

To me, the answer is in the question. I like to solve problems a lot more than talking about them and EV’s are currently the best answer to the biggest problem facing us. That said, we have a slightly different take on defining that problem, in that we think simply chasing greater adoption is pushing against the tide. For us the goal is to reduce global car ownership and we’re focused on persuading indebted consumers that ‘owning nothing and being happy’ is actually a good and liberating thing not just a meme. If you’re familiar with the movie Margin Call, Richard Devitt (the founder and visionary of Zimbl) and I, who both think the movie is a perfect analogy for our current climate situation, repeatedly say to each other; “…it sure is a hell of a lot easier to just be first” because for us it encapsulates the urgency vs the current pace of change. If you know, you know.

Which EV do you drive, and why?

I drive a Zimbl as a paying customer. We all do. It’s much more cost effective than owning a car. If I were forced to buy a new car, I confess that living on a farm as I do and loving the outdoors, I am rather hoping the Cyberbeast lives up to the hype.

If you could design an ideal electric vehicle, what features would you prioritise to enhance the overall driving experience?

Personally, I can’t wait for autonomous which is a big part of our future proofing and vision but then I’m a bit of a sailing geek and like my land journeys to be as comfortable and stress free as possible, and my water ones wet and wild. At Zimbl we’re obsessed with making every journey feel like you’re stepping into a brand-new car, so economically ones that clean themselves too would be great.

How will Zimbl’s Mobility as a Service (MaaS) offering revolutionise the way in which people access EVs long-term?

I’m old enough to remember excitedly buying vinyl 45s and mourning the perceived degradation in sound of a digital version of a track on a CD. Now I have thousands of songs on my Apple Music and Spotify accounts and wouldn’t go back for anything.

People are already sharing their home charge points and we’re well advanced on some projects in empowering them to do that with their cars. Most families tend to have more than one car and in the short to medium term our SAM (serviceable addressable market) targets those second and third cars. On an average car loan, insurance and maintenance etc. we’re saving them thousands a year by allowing to pay to use and not own. Even those that want to own, can subsidise their usage entirely by adding their car to the Zimbl grid.

If you ask most people these days (assuming they can get from A to B reliably whenever they need to) if they would rather own that second car or take a holiday in the Caribbean every year, very few opt for the car.

How do you assess the current market landscape for EV hire services? What opportunities and challenges do you anticipate for Zimbl in this market?

When we talk about ICE vehicles, we’re trying to disrupt an industry that is more addictive, entrenched, and destructive than cigarettes, but with similar resistance and vested interests. There are 14.5 billion cars on this planet and they’re parked 95% of the time. Even an aeroplane runs at 42% utilisation. At the moment we’re fighting the battles we can win and working with CPOs to help them up their utilisation and are going to be buying a lot of cars over the next few years. To win the war though, we need to be part of reshaping the entire landscape and to continue the Margin Call analogy, the music is inevitably going to stop on car ownership when autonomous kicks in anyway, so we’re just bridging the change and being part of it. The manufacturers will of course adapt and the CPOs (by helping us scale faster and being generous with spaces and charging and flexible on DC) will in our opinion move the dial on adoption way faster than just trying to convert ICE drivers to EV.

Zimbl emphasises its user-friendly platform. In an industry often marked by fear, uncertainty and doubt, how do you enhance the customer experience to encourage more individuals and businesses to choose Zimbl for their electric vehicle needs?

By helping them save money and gain freedom. For businesses, we help them make money in ways they’ve never considered. We are also increasingly acting as welcome brokers to a wide range of transport and community planning challenges and turning them around on mobility and savings.

We’ve had fabulous support from the pioneering team at Oxford City & County Councils and others coming onboard, whilst we’ve been building the company; and are gradually getting the chance to repay that by properly attributing our growing success with their involvement and most importantly getting their residents and our clients giving us consistent 5* Trip Advisor reviews. There’s no better answer to fear, uncertainty and doubt than agreeing what that looks like, acknowledging it and removing it. That’s what we strive for.

How are you integrating sustainability into the core of Zimbl’s business strategy, beyond just providing electric vehicles for hire?

We’re in the journey business. The ultimate destination for all of us is planetary sustainability. Right now, our best way to contribute is a laser focus on making Zimbl a better consumer choice than owning a car. And befriending everyone that will help us. Especially investors 😉

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