Chinese scooter startup Niu files for US IPO

Wang Xiao Pian, 38, said she began selling Niu scooters in 2015 and opened a store in Beijing’s central east Dongcheng district in April 2017. She said the store sold more than 300 scooters in August, and at least as many in September so far.

Most sales are driven by word-of-mouth and store promotions, Wang said. She added that Niu management holds online and offline training session for her staff of six roughly every two weeks, and frequently sends representatives to check on the store’s appearance.

“I don’t think anyone can compete with us,” Wang said. “There’s no competition. I think next year will be better than this year.”

In contrast, a nearby store selling scooters from 19-year-old Aima – which state media CCTV named as a leading national brand – said it has sold about 200 vehicles both in August and September.

“Most people buy these scooters to send and pick up their children from school, buy groceries or commute to work,” said Aima store operator Zhu Daosi, 32, noting it’s probably a bit excessive for them to spend the extra 1,000 yuan or more for a Niu scooter for such trips.

“But,” Zhu said, “Niu still has a competitive edge.”

Source: Niu Technologies data

Anecdotally, some online postings for secondhand scooter sales note the seller would like to upgrade to Niu. Through its smartphone app and customer service, the company has a dedicated group of fans who share pictures of decked out scooters online and swap tips on maintenance. The Niu app had more than 457,000 registered users as of June 30, according to the company.

That’s still a fraction of the 700 million two-wheeled vehicles in China as of Dec. 31, 2017, according to the filing.

Niu Technologies was co-founded in 2014 by Baidu’s former chief technology officer, Li Yinan, and Token Yilin Hu, formerly of Microsoft China. The vehicles range in price from 2,999 yuan ($436) to 9,999 yuan ($1,455) or more, and can travel about 45 kilometers (27 miles) to more than 150 kilometers on a single charge, depending on the model.

The first Niu scooters were crowdfunded. Now, Niu said, it has stores in more than 150 Chinese cities and distributors in 23 other countries. The company claims to have sold more than 431,000 e-scooters globally as of June 30.

Early investors include GGV Capital and IDG Capital, according to Crunchbase. Credit Suisse, Citigroup and Needham are the underwriters for the public offering.

While China is Niu’s largest market by far and the company has no stores in the U.S., Europe is a growing market, accounting for about 12 percent of net revenues in the first half of this year. Net revenue from overall electric scooter sales nearly doubled in the first six months of this year to 514 million yuan ($75.6 million), according to Niu’s prospectus.

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