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E-scooter company wants you to front a lot of cash for your very own scooter rental business



Scooters, scooters everywhere.
Scooters, scooters everywhere.

Image: Mario Tama/Getty Images

As if there weren’t enough scooters out there whizzing around, an Austin-based electric scooter company wants anyone and everyone to start their own scooter rental business.

Goat — a relative newcomer to the scooter scene — is spearheading this new business model. It’s reminiscent of Amazon’s Delivery Service Partner program to get entrepreneurs who normally sell their wares online to get into the delivery business themselves — and pay for it. Goat’s model is similar, except it’s geared towards avid scooter riders or gig workers who charge the electric scooters to start renting out scooters themselves.

In a release about the new business model, Goat CEO Michael Schramm said, “The way we look at it is, why would someone want to be a charger and make $5 a scooter, when they can manage their own fleet and keep all the earnings doing the same task they’re already doing?”

Through a Kickstarter campaign launching in August, Goat is helping would-be scooter company owners buy up to 500 scooters and then rent them out to riders for a fee through the Goat platform.

The scooters will be discounted from their retail prices through the Kickstarter campaign and fleets are expected to be delivered by November. So the promise to be your own boss will need a few months to kick off. But it’s a huge (aka pretty unreasonable) ask for people who are earning $5 per scooter now to suddenly drop $595 per scooter. And that’s with the Kickstarter early-bird pricing. Eventually each scooter will cost $1,199 to add to your fleet. 

Once you do have the scooters (and hopefully didn’t go into debt to finance the fleet), Goat will provide the customer support, fleet management and technology, like the mobile app to rent and operate the e-scooters. Users will pay for rides through to app to Goat, which will give the money — minus 15 percent — back to the fleet owner. But Goat won’t cover monthly insurance costs, which also can add up. You are also in charge of any city permits and fees to operate the vehicles. It keeps adding up. 

And wait — there’s more. As an owner you have to collect the scooters every night, charge them, and then disperse them around town the next morning — and hopefully get enough riders scooting along to make it worth your while. Every. Single. Day. If you hire anyone to help you with your burgeoning scooter business, there goes more of your profits.

A Goat spokesperson said the company doesn’t guarantee results or promise to buy back scooters if it flops. But Goat says the model is structured so that the company relies on successful owners, so they’ll do their best to educate about best practices and managing a fleet.

Goat seems very confident that scooters are popping off. And they might be, but it’s not a transportation trend necessarily worth dumping all your saving into. Populus, a transportation data and analytics company, on Tuesday released its findings on scooter perception.

 A team of MIT and UC Berkeley PhDs surveyed 7,000 people in 11 U.S. cities and found that 70 percent of respondents find vehicles like e-scooters convenient and complementary to public transit.

Based on the study, it looks like e-scooters are more positively viewed by women and lower-income groups.

In San Francisco — which temporarily banned e-scooters in June as they review applications for a permitted scooter program — only 52 percent of residents view e-scooters positively. This was the lowest out of all the cities surveyed.

Most cities view scooters positively.

Most cities view scooters positively.

In a New Jersey suburb, scooters from Inboard Technology and run through Boxcar are piloting a commuter program to and from the train station. Like the Populus study found, the scooters are supposed to ease car congestion and make it easier to get to public transit — in this case, the train station in Madison, New Jersey.

What the Populus data doesn’t say explicitly is that no city is trying to have a bunch of small scooter companies operating out of garages and apartment buildings — no matter how efficient the motorized vehicles are perceived. As a would-be fleet owner you really need to think if managing of a fleet of unwieldy scooters is worth it. 

Goat calls it passive income, but scooters are anything but passive.

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