Founder interview - Norbert Pálfalvi, founder of Custowner Mobility

LuxembourgPosted on 26 February 2024 by Team

Luxembourg Expats celebrates expats in Luxembourg. We regularly interview expats from different backgrounds and persuasion and call Luxembourg home. In our interview series, called Featured Story Series, now we have had an interesting discussion with Norbert Palfalvi, founder of Custowner Mobility.

Custowner Mobility is building a better mobility system that accelerates to move away from car ownership and supports the transition to people-centric cities.

Without further ado, let's get straight into the discussion.

Let's have a quick introduction about yourself. Where are you from and what do you do?

Hello, my name is Norbert, and I hail from a background rich in mechanical design engineering within the automotive industry, a journey that began in 2004. Twelve years ago, my family and I embarked on a new chapter by moving to Luxembourg, a decision that has significantly shaped my professional and personal life. Initially, I delved into the workforce as an employee, but as my experience and aspirations grew, I transitioned into freelancing. This evolution of my career eventually led me to establish my own company, laying the foundation for what is now a thriving mobility business. My venture into entrepreneurship is driven by a passion for innovation and sustainability in transportation, aiming to redefine mobility for the future.

What's your entrepreneurial journey? How did you get started with Custowner Mobility?

My entrepreneurial journey with Custowner Mobility has been deeply influenced by my extensive travels across Europe, where conversations with locals vividly highlighted the pressing issue of climate change. These encounters were eye-opening, driving home the realization that we are all part of the problem.

However, with this acknowledgment comes the responsibility to mitigate our impact on the environment. Observing the daily traffic congestion in Luxembourg further solidified my belief in the necessity for a transformative solution.

The genesis of Custowner Mobility stemmed from a personal desire for a more sustainable and efficient mode of transportation. The realization struck that owning a car was no longer appealing; what I sought was a service that could offer the flexibility of leasing or renting small electric vehicles for daily commutes, coupled with the option to rent minibuses for family vacations. This idea wasn't just about offering an alternative to car ownership but about revolutionizing our approach to mobility.

With this vision, Custowner Mobility was born, aiming to introduce a shared mobility service that not only addresses the environmental concerns but also caters to the practical mobility needs of the community. Our initiative seeks to inspire a shift towards sustainable living, encouraging people to reconsider their transportation choices for a greener future.

What do you offer with Custowner Mobility and what's innovative and fresh about it?

"Custowner" is a blend of the words "customer" and "owner," referring to a business model where the customers of a company also have an ownership stake or influence in the company's operations.

At Custowner Mobility, we redefine the concept of mobility by merging the essence of being both a customer and an owner into one innovative platform. Our unique business model empowers users not just to avail themselves of shared mobility services but to also take part in the governance and financial aspects of the mobility ecosystem.

We offer an array of shared mobility services, providing a sustainable alternative to private vehicle ownership. This includes access to e-bikes, small electric vehicles (EVs), and minibuses, all aimed at making urban and rural transportation more accessible and environmentally friendly.

What sets Custowner Mobility apart is our pioneering tokenization solution. This platform offers an unprecedented opportunity for individuals and communities to invest in local shared mobility fleets. By investing, users gain not just a financial stake but also voting rights, enabling them to actively participate in shaping the mobility solutions that define their cities.

Our approach is designed to make cities more livable by fostering a sense of community ownership and responsibility. It's about creating a sustainable future where transportation is shared, efficient, and tailored to the needs of the community. With Custowner Mobility, we're not just offering a service; we're inviting everyone to be a part of the mobility revolution.

What are you most proud of personally and about Custowner?

We should have an alternative mobility solution to move away from the individual car ownership. Shared mobility cooperation is already exists in many country, based on their success we are settling the first mobility coop in Luxembourg.

On a personal level, what fills me with immense pride is the relentless pursuit and acquisition of knowledge, especially during the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic. I immersed myself in numerous online courses covering critical topics like cycling infrastructures, sustainable cities, urban mobility, and climate change. This period of learning not only enriched my understanding but also significantly contributed to the foundational principles of Custowner. It empowered me to push boundaries and lay the groundwork for a cooperative that champions shared mobility.

As for Custowner, our pride stems from pioneering the first mobility cooperative in Luxembourg, inspired by the successes of shared mobility initiatives across the globe. We are not just introducing an alternative to individual car ownership; we are cultivating a community-centric model that actively involves citizens as stakeholders and participants. This collaborative approach, underpinned by partnerships and stakeholder agreements, is what I believe will drive our success.

Our mission at Custowner is to offer a sustainable mobility solution that resonates with the needs and aspirations of the community. It's about creating a movement towards a greener, more connected, and less congested urban environment. The pride I feel for what we have started and the potential of what we can achieve together is immeasurable.

What are your hobbies and interests?

I really like to hiking, and travel, especially to the mountains and to the seaside. I prefer to stay in the nature… we spent many our family vacations in camping, where we hear the singing birds at early morning…

What's your favourite spot in Luxembourg?

I like to cycle through the rural areas – you will see a real different side of the country. I empower everybody to take their bike with a train to Diekirch and ride to Gravenmacher at the side of the Sure. You can ride together with your family, and spend nice time within local restaurants as well.

What's your top 3-recommendations for a new comer in Luxembourg?

1 spend your time in the nature,

2 learn and practice languages, this is the perfect place to improve your language skills.

3 Travel a lot, within Luxembourg, the region or abroad… you will remember forever those events…

What's your favourite quote?

“If you really want to do something, you will find the way. Otherwise, you will find the excuse" - Jim Rohn

What would you say would be the recommendations of people who want to start their own business today?

For those embarking on the journey of starting their own business today, I'd share insights drawn from both my professional experiences and my commitment to sustainability. Firstly, recognize the profound responsibility we carry as the stewards of our planet. Our innovations and enterprises should not only seek profit but also contribute positively to the world. We are indeed the most intelligent species, yet our actions have often led to the detriment of the Earth. As entrepreneurs, we have the unique opportunity to drive change, to create businesses that preserve and enhance our environment for future generations.

Building a strong network is crucial. Engage with your community, connect with local businesses, and immerse yourself in learning from every possible source. Understand the needs and aspirations of the people your business will serve. The insights gathered from these interactions are invaluable, guiding you to tailor your offerings in ways that truly resonate with your audience.

Remember, entrepreneurship is not just about identifying gaps in the market; it's about understanding the impact of filling those gaps. Strive to be a part of the solution, leveraging your business as a platform for positive change. As you navigate the complexities of starting and growing your business, let your mission be guided by a vision of a better world, sustained by your actions and innovations.

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