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Q&A with Gian-Carlo Crivello, PBSC’s CRO
To mark his 12 years at PBSC, we sat down with Gian-Carlo Crivello, Chief Relationship Officer, to discuss his career, his outlook on the micromobility industry, and his achievements throughout this journey. Customer-focused and entrepreneurial at heart, GC leads the business development team at PBSC. His team is responsible for the successful deployment of micromobility solutions in several world-class cities
GC poses with the E-FIT at our head office
Start us off with your career journey, how did you find yourself in the world of bikeshare?
GC: I joined the company in 2009, over 12 years ago. My main mandate was to grow the business internationally. At the time, our system was only in Montreal, but I really saw the potential for sales abroad.
Before entering the world of bikeshare, I was in manufacturing and the company I worked for was the company hired by BIXI to do the first prototypes of the system. I worked on the electronics there, as the director of business development. When there was an opening for international development at BIXI, I decided it would be a great opportunity, applied, and was chosen for the role. Part of BIXI eventually became PBSC when the company restructured, and the rest is history.
What was the bikeshare landscape like at the time? Which cities already had bike-share systems?
GC: Bikeshare has been around for a long time. Of course, it has evolved a lot since then, the technologies were very different back then. It is said that the early European bikeshare systems is what inspired the mayor of Montreal to create an improved version, BIXI, for his own city.
Overall, Europe was ahead of the game, and interestingly enough, it’s an opportunity for PBSC. Some of those first systems have aged and are now due for an upgrade. We’re demonstrating that our technology is perfect to help cities transition to newer and better-adapted systems, like we did in Valence, Barcelona and Monaco.
GC and some of the PBSC team along with the Tembici team in Brazil
How has the industry evolved in the past 10 years? How have cities changed in the way they see micromobility solutions?
GC: At the beginning, when I used to go pitch our product to cities, bikeshare was still very new. An important part of the job was educating our potential clients about what bikeshare really was, and what it could do to change their city’s urban landscape and transportation ecosystem for the better.
Today, there’s no need to educate cities on that, which speaks volumes on the evolution of the industry. Now, it’s more about understanding what each city’s particular needs are, and how we can integrate with their existing mobility ecosystem. We have to highlight PBSC’s strength which is really the quality of our systems. Our commitment to innovation, and investment in research and development is really what sets us apart from the competition.
The landscape has also changed significantly in the past decade, it really goes beyond bikeshare now. The arrival of new micromobility electric vehicles like e-bikes and e-scooters have changed the transportation cocktail in many cities. We developed a multimodal solution to specifically solve one of the most common pain points of dockless, or “free-floating”, vehicles. Cities can now use our smart stations to secure and charge multiple types of electric vehicles, which makes for a much better organized, secure and efficient urban space. The user experience of renting a bike has also evolved, we’ve integrated our own app as well as transit cards with NFC technology to make the whole process even smoother.
Walk us through your day-to-day, what is a typical day in the life of PBSC’s CRO?
GC: Every day is different, there really is no “typical” day. Sometimes my team and I are focused on a specific RFP. Other times, we’re working closely with the marketing team to find new clients and partners for our products.
This year was a little different for obvious reasons, but trade shows take up a lot of our time, it’s a chance for us to meet cities and discuss possible launches or expansions. We also forge partnerships with local operators, like Tembici in Brazil or Ferrorvial in Spain that allow us to better adapt our product to local customs and preferences, so an important element of my team’s mandate is finding the right partners.
Something I’m proud of at PBSC is that we’re the industry leaders. Being part of both the North American Bikeshare Association (NABSA) and Cycling Industries Europe (CIE), we’re always trying to push the industry forward. One of the ways we’ve done that, for example, the sponsoring local and international events, such as the VeloCity or NABSA conferences, which are some of the most important gatherings of our industry. PBSC is continuously re-inventing itself, with the addition of electric bikes and more recently, our multimodal solution, so there’s never a lack of action and new challenges in this position.
GC at launches in Barcelona (left) and Dubai (right)
How has you and your team adapted to the new reality to keep PBSC growing despite COVID.
GC: The pandemic is terrible, but it also brought a spotlight to our business. People are a lot more comfortable riding a bike than taking public transportation these days, so the interest in our field is growing fast. Cities are encouraging cycling more than ever and are investing in cycling infrastructure and bikeshare.
Our clients are scattered all over the world, from North and Latin America to Europe and the Middle East. In our day-to-day, we’re really busy with RFP’s, but we’ve adapted to meeting our clients virtually instead of flying to those cities. More importantly we have the competitive advantage of having part of our team on the ground in Europe. We have a global footprint, and while we’re based in Montreal, we have business development and tech support in many parts of the world. We have fantastic partners and a very diverse supply chain, and that really facilitates the issues we’re having with COVID.
What are you most proud of at PBSC?
GC: I think we really go the extra mile at PBSC. We really try to understand each city’s unique needs and provide them with the best solution possible. Something that’s quite special at PBSC is the opportunity to look back at a system like London’s, which is over a decade old and still there today, and say that I contributed to making a real difference in the city’s landscape.
It’s not every job where you can say that you contributed to environmental sustainability, public health and an innovative transportation mix in world-class cities! There’s definitely a certain amount of pride in that.
Every time I’m at a new city for a launch, I watch the politicians and stakeholders do the press conference and that’s an accomplishment. But the real pride comes at night, five hours later when the press has left, and you see regular people enjoying riding the bikes we just launched. After all the hard work, that’s the real satisfaction, that’s the trophy.
To see some of the bike share systems that GC and his team contributed to launching, visit our cities page.
GC poses with Luc Sabbatini, our CEO.
Our team at the VeloCity conference in Rio
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