Scoot Networks wants to be the Zipcar of electric scooters. Scoot unveiled its service, still in a closed "alpha" testing period at the Launch conference in San Francisco, the location where Scoot will initially kick off its service.
Scoot is targeted at regular urban commuters who might otherwise attempt to dash around the city via taxi, bus or train, as well as those who might use the service to get around town only once in awhile. What's more, the scooters are controlled by your smartphone—you can reserve a car through an app on your iPhone, and then the phone in effect becomes your key, and dashboard. The scooter starts when you plug in the phone.
The company says it is a hybrid of three new but proven technologies: Chinese electric motorbikes (tens of millions are on the road, growing by over 10 million per year); European bike sharing (hundreds of cities have deployed such systems in recent years); and real-time, mobile transportation services (e.g. GetAround, Uber). The scooters top out at about 30 mph.
Scoot Networks expects to charge about $5 an hour for a trip, though monthly deals will be available for regular riders. At the start, users will only be able to reserve round-trips. Scoot will provide helmets, and handle theft and insurance requirements.
The company comes out of a GreenStart accelerator program, which helps entrepreneurs build clean tech initiatives. Scoot certainly found a favorable audience at Launch. Tim Young, the co-founder of About.me and one of the judges evaluating start-ups at the event, offered to write Scoot a $50,000 check on stage.