Power Play: How Terra Tech is Charging Ahead in the Last-Mile Delivery Race

Power Play: How Terra Tech is Charging Ahead in the Last-Mile Delivery Race 

Discover how Husam Zammar, the innovator behind Terra Tech, leverages smart mobility, from e-bikes to battery-swapping solutions, in his quest to reshape the delivery landscape.

You started by selling electric bikes but now provide a pretty different solution. Why?

At the beginning of the journey, you aim to solve a problem but, along the way, this journey evolves because the problem evolves – you uncover new challenges that require different solutions. 

Our objective is to enable logistic companies to move towards electrification, especially since the delivery market has been booming with COVID. There are approximately 90,000 bikes in the UAE, all using petrol and producing more carbon than cars because they’re less regulated. And these bikes are not specialised for delivery – they’re racing bikes, loud and unsafe, fitted with a special steel chassis to handle a fibreglass box. 

So, in 2021, we first thought of bringing electric motorbikes to the market but, after six months, we realised that this wasn’t the right solution because these bikes are very expensive.

So, we broke down the cost of an e-bike and found out that the battery alone represents around 60% of this cost. We can sell the bike without a battery, and it’s cheaper than petrol bikes. But then, to drive an e-bike without a battery, you need to get battery-as-a-service, just like you get petrol for a petrol bike. 

So, to provide that, we started digging into the battery technology. But then again, what if you want to purchase the bike with the battery? 

So, we came up with a battery swapping technology and smart swapping stations. 

In short, our solution has five columns: three in hardware – motorbike, battery, and swapping station – and two in software – mobile application for the driver and dashboard for the end user.

How do the swapping stations work?

The driver gets a notification on the mobile application that the battery is at 10%. The app guides them to the nearest swapping station where they identify themselves with a QR code. They place the used battery in the locker which checks its health; if all is well, a fully charged battery is provided automatically. The whole process takes 20 to 22 seconds. No need to worry about the range or the time it takes to charge the battery, the driver can continue to work with almost no interruption.

We now have 11 stations on the main Dubai roads, approved by the government, along with mobile swapping stations, operating like CAFU. We’re also trying to get Adnoc to include these swapping stations in their gas stations, just like they have supermarkets. 

What about the software? 

It gives us full control over our bikes, well beyond GPS. I can tell my client which drivers are at risk of having an accident due to aggressive driving. We can reduce the bike’s speed or geofence it so it stays within certain areas, all via Cloud. 

What’s more, we offer three options for the box itself, all powered by the battery and manageable from the client’s dashboard. One is refrigerated for pharmaceuticals, ice cream, sushi, etc. The second one can go up to 60°C. The third one is a full LED screen that can be geofenced for localised advertising or information.  

How did you develop these technologies?

We did everything in-house – we now hold six patents, with 18 more due by the end of April. We recruited a full team of engineers from the top manufacturers in the world to develop a special design for the battery, a special battery management system (BMS) that cools the battery and keeps it safe from accidents, the swapping station, etc. 

It took us around two years to have a prototype that I brought to companies like Mcdonald’s, KFC, and Domino’s Pizza for trial. Six months later, we had approximately 6,250 LPOs.

What is the business model?

The first one is mobility as a service, a subscription that includes everything – bike, battery swapping, insurance, etc.

The second one is battery as a service, where the client purchases the bike and subscribes to the battery swapping service. 

And our savings calculator shows clients how much they can save if they convert their petrol fleet to an electric one. On average, it saves 10% to 15% on operational costs.

How did you fund Terra Tech?

We had a pre-seed round of $1.5 million in January 2023 and a seed round of $2 million in December 2023

We’re preparing a series A right after Ramadan targeting $20 million, either from private equity or capital venture, that will be used for the deployment of 10,000 e-bikes and to start manufacturing out of the UAE.

Before Terra Tech, you had more traditional businesses. What made you take this jump?

My plan was to be a millionaire by age 30 – and I did it by age 28 – and a billionaire by age 45. That’s a goal I can’t reach in a regular, traditional business. The really successful businesses are all in software and they all solve a problem and scale. So, I had to go for a startup with a new idea.

I’m open to all kinds of industries and I’m not afraid of risk. I established 11 companies in the UAE; four of them failed and seven succeeded. The secret is to know your client and their pain point. In this case, there were two: cost for last-mile delivery companies and sustainability for the government.

You said that you plan to take Terra worldwide by 2026. Are you on track?

We already have a deal with Qatar for 5,000 bikes and we are in talks with Turkey, Egypt, and Iraq. This product has the potential. So, why not?

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