5 Questions with Daniel Wolpert, Co-Founder of Wikimove for Paris Techstars Accelerator

Aug 08, 2022

Daniel Wolpert Co-Founder of Wikimove

01. What is your background? Take us through the steps of becoming a founder

Ever since I can remember I’ve always had a passion for technology and wanted to become a creator and inventor of things. Right after school, during my apprenticeship as an Electronics Technician, I made my first “big invention”, a battery that generated energy while it was shaken. After selling the idea and seeing it end up in a shelf, l wanted to take things into my own hands. 

To expand my horizons, I studied Architecture and Urban Planning and Renewable Energy Engineering in parallel and started to work as a consultant, where I developed my passion and fascination for electric mobility. I decided to start working in the Strategy Department for Alternative Drives at Mercedes-Benz and do my Master’s degree in Technology Management. During my time at Mercedes-Benz I became part of the founding team of Mercedes-Benz Energy and moved to Silicon Valley to help start Mercedes-Benz Energy USA. This sparked the idea of becoming an entrepreneur. It wasn't just about building the company, but much more about the overall spirit of the place! Problems turned into opportunities and the impossible into visions for a better world. After seeing how the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco were struggling with new mobility, I realized the potential of organizing MaaS (Mobility as a Service) to increase its adoption and acceptance. This is how the idea for Wikimove was born and the decision made to become a founder.

02. How do you and your co-founder know each other?

For almost a year, Michael and I were colleagues and roommates in Silicon Valley, and he was patient enough to teach me how to code (at least he tried). When I approached him about Wikimove, he was already back in Germany and about to finish his Master's degree in Software Engineering. We decided to give it a try and found a customer right away without even having a product. 

03. What did you enjoy most about the Paris Techstars Accelerator’s program and what are your biggest learnings?

First of all, the people. After moving back to Germany, I really missed the atmosphere and spirit of Silicon Valley, but Techstars with all its people (other founders, the local team, the mentors, and others) definitely made up for it. With the Techstars network, we now have access to this, no matter where we are! The biggest takeaway was that there can be different opinions and they can all be true and well intentioned, but in the end as a founder you have to stand behind them and the decisions you make, it's you who has to run the company.

04. What were some of the obstacles your company faced throughout the three months of the acceleration program?

The program offered us a huge variety of experts, workshops, and opinions. Also, about having the Government (city municipalities) as our first customer. As a result, we ended up in another customer discovery phase and lost a little bit of traction with the already very tightly scheduled program. But with the help of our experienced mentors and the Techstars team, we overcame that challenge and learned a lot, not only about our customers, but also about ourselves and what we want to build.

05. How do you plan to measure the impact of your company in the next 5 years?

Every car less on the road means 3.5 tons less CO2 in the air. Our plan to measure the impact of Wikimove is the adoption of MaaS (increase in ridesharing) and the reduction of cars on the streets of our Wikimove cities. With the reduction of traffic, traffic and parking areas become redundant and can for example be reused as parks, playgrounds or other green spaces and actively contribute to cooling and quality of life in our cities.

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