Michael Mangion is the founder and CEO of Trilvee, an on-demand electric vehicle (EV) service that’s aiming to cut down city congestion with teleoperated vehicles.
Founded in 2021, Trilvee is developing technology for customers to hail an EV that is remotely driven to their location and is the right size for the journey. In the case of the shorter, intra-city trips that Trilvee is targeting, this usually means 1-2 seaters. A remote operator drives the vehicle away once the customer completes their trip, which means they don’t have to worry about parking.
The company is currently at the proof of concept stage but is aiming to go to market early next year. It has raised £550,000 to date in pre-seed funding.
Mangion, who previously founded CrowdScores and WebSphere, launched Trilvee after realising cars are often too large for most journeys and that teleoperation can bridge the gap before fully autonomous vehicles arrive.
In this week’s Founder in Five Q&A, Mangion explains the competitive advantage of diversity of perspective, why he admires Tesla and why he’s not bullish about autonomous vehicles in busy cities.
1. Which company’s growth story are you most impressed with?
Michael Mangion: I don’t think anyone alive can fail to be impressed with what has been achieved by Tesla over the last few years. I love how they started with a prototype cobbled together from other peoples’ tech and, in the face of every possible expectation and historical precedent, built an innovation powerhouse that has truly rammed EVs centre stage onto everyone else’s product roadmaps. There’s a good reason why one of our advisors is the ‘father of the Model S’.
2. Who’s a leader you admire in your industry?
MM: It’s difficult to find a leader who doesn’t come with some serious caveats – perhaps that’s an occupational hazard of standing so tall above the parapet. Apart from the more recent politics, I’ve long admired how Elon Musk has completely shredded received wisdom, taken things back to first principles, and reinvented not one but at least two industries. I also admire Jeff Bezos’s approach to building companies and keeping them fresh and agile.
As a thought leader, I really admire Simon Sinek and aspire to embrace as many of his ideas as possible.
3. What’s the best way to promote diversity in the workplace?
MM: Firstly, I define diversity as diversity of thought not looks. But that really does tend to go hand in hand with what someone is – a woman’s perspective on being a woman is certainly different to a man’s.
Focusing on the competitive advantage that diversity of perspective brings to your organisation forces you to take the extra effort to build a diverse team. The sad thing is that it does take extra effort, particularly in tech where Western countries have, in the past, not done enough to promote diversity in STEM subjects.
4. How do you prevent burnout?
MM: Prioritise sleep! There’s literally no better way to reset after a tough day than getting a good night’s kipper and I always find that I wake up refreshed. On top of that, I try to make cycling non-negotiable as exercise has a way of pulling me out of the weeds to re-focus my perspective on the bigger picture.
I always try to remember that as an entrepreneur you have to expect and condition yourself to ‘gut punches’, by which I mean taking a setback and immediately getting back up to go again. Somehow, it turns around and I’ve almost come to welcome the challenge. Still it feels terrifying when for a moment it appears like everything’s going to shit.
5. What’s the most misunderstood technology?
MM: I’m not bullish about autonomous driving on chaotic city roads and the increasingly frequent reports from the tech and general press lend credence to that belief. We’ve actually had autonomous vehicles in cities for over 100 years and everyone uses them daily. They’re called lifts.
Now imagine if instead of using constrained lift shafts, the only way to climb stairs mechanically was with a robot that walked up stairs, avoiding people and obstacles, didn’t slip on wet floors, and worked when the lights went out. We’d have very low buildings!
Founder in Five – a UKTN Q&A series with the entrepreneurs behind the UK’s innovative tech startups, scaleups and unicorns – is published every Friday.
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