We asked Maxwell Micky, Modeshift’s VP of Sales, to share his thoughts and ideas about the mobility sector – contactless technologies, demand-responsive platforms, and more. Here’s the full interview!
Tell us about yourself. What is your professional background and expertise?
M: My background and expertise have evolved over the years to, in short, helping businesses grow. I started my career working in the financial sector first as a licensed stockbroker and then working in corporate finance. I decided I wanted to have a greater impact on the organization I worked for, so I shifted gears and moved into the tech startup space here in Charlotte, NC. I have now been a part of several growing organizations mainly on the sales side to provide platforms that add real intrinsic value to our clients and their customers. Particularly I have been in the “smart city” space for the better part of the last decade – watching both the tech and cities grow to meet the needs of the people they serve.
In which USA regions/states is the market for smart mobility currently developing particularly rapidly?
Most of the exciting smart mobility solutions are being built for areas of the country that previously have been ignored. The Chicago, New York, and LA’s of the world have larger budgets and that is where vendors have focused their tech efforts – solving problems for big cities. Not that moving 10M people around is by any means an easy lift, but the new tech build is typically geared towards those types of cities. What is getting exciting in the space is solutions that can work for a rural community transit system that covers hundreds of miles and has complex setups to meet the needs of its riders.
Are there particular reasons why these regions/states are leading the way?
Technology partners are figuring out ways to be valuable to these communities and opening new doors that were previously not only unopened but nonexistent. Not only are these rural parts of the country able to add new smart technology, but they have options which is great for all parties as it pushes innovation!
For which smart mobility products is there a growing demand and why do you think that is?
On-demand and demand-responsive are absolutely fueling the tech growth in the country. It started years ago with your Ubers and Lyfts, and started in megacities. But now that technology is being adapted to work in Chicago IL, but also in a rural community in the middle of the state. And really the technology is just being expected – having apps to be able to request a ride or see where vehicles are at has moved from a luxury or “nice to have” to something that we now see as just part of every- day transportation.
Has COVID been instrumental in changing the mobility market and in what ways?
Covid and this pandemic have undoubtedly affected the globe in too many ways to count but have particularly shaped the mobility market. We witnessed perseverance and innovation on both the public and private sides during this pandemic. Agencies had to adapt on the fly and figure out how to safely keep people moving in their communities. Transit has been one of the unsung heroes of the pandemic. There have been so many first responders for whom we are all wildly thankful – and who ride public transit. Many operators and drivers were risking their lives to keep our lives and the world moving.
What types of technology are on the rise?
Contactless payments. This includes mobile ticketing, contactless bank cards, smart cards, etc. We needed a way to safely pay and touch as little as possible. Cash will likely never go away, and many riders rely on this every day so we can’t take away cash as an option – but shifting our gears (bad pun intended) to focus on making contactless payments easy will be the driver for change.
How has your job as a VP of Sales changed – what are the benefits and downsides of working remotely during the past year?
This year was very challenging for all roles. First and foremost, my thoughts were how can I help my team to do their jobs effectively while remaining safe. What tools can I provide to help them succeed in this climate? Sales at its core is quite honestly a beautiful thing. At the end of the day, our role is to provide value to someone else by solving a problem. Sales get a bad rap because there are salespeople out there that are trying to “sell”. No one likes being sold to! Our role is to create an opportunity for someone to make a purchase if it’s a good fit. For us, contactless payments have moved to something that is now necessary. On the flip side it has of course been difficult to meet with people and say hello face to face!
What do you see as the biggest obstacles to smart mobility in the US?
Time. Smart mobility is here and has been for a while. It’s just time for everyone to get on the same page and bring the technology to their riders. Which in time will happen as budgets and priorities are allocated towards it.
What does it take to overcome these obstacles?
Perseverance! Agencies are working hard every day to help their riders move about their communities. As for us on the tech side, we need to be shoulder to shoulder with those agencies helping where we can.
How do you see the future of mobility in the US?
I see mobility just becoming more normal in all cities. Even in your mid-sized cities like Charlotte, we have mobile apps for transit and parking, but several types of scooters, bicycles, ride-share, etc. This was not the case 5 years ago, and as those technology vendors grow – they will continue moving to help solve the needs of “everyday” sized cities, and mobility in every community will one day (might be a bit though) be easy.