Scoot Networks, a system of smartphone-enabled, shared electric scooters calling itself the “Zipcar for Scooters,” has closed a seed round of $550,000, which will help the company move from private beta to launch. Investors in the round included Tim Young (About.me, Socialcast), Jerry Fiddler (Zygote Ventures, Wind River), Shane Johnson (Paintbrush Capital), Joanne Wilson (angel investor, Gotham Gal), Lisa Gansky (Mesh Labs, Ofoto), and Mark Jacobstein (Qualcomm, iSkoot). Scoot had previously raised $225,000 from Greenstart and Athos Aramis.
The company was founded in 2011 by Michael Keating (now Scoot CEO) whose background is in transportation software, corporate strategy, sustainability, and design. He also has a masters in urban planning and an MBA, both from Harvard. Keating’s co-founders include Matt Ewing (CMO), who previously worked with MoveOn and environmental groups, and Dan Riegel (CTO), formerly a founder at EngeryHub.
“Transportation is one of the biggest urban challenges, and biggest expenses for city dwellers, mainly because our cities are packed full of expensive, polluting cars,” says Keating. “Alternative modes like biking or transit are great but most people still drive everywhere because those other modes still aren’t as fast or as convenient as driving.” Scoot, he says, aims to disrupt the status quo by being fast enough for the city (up to 30 MPH) but also much cheaper ($5/hour or less), much easier to park, and much greener (their electric motors get the equivalent of 850 MPG).
He also says that there are no direct competitors for Scoot, unless you count driving and mass transit. Zipcar is for occasional use like beach trips or IKEA runs, Keating explains, while Scoot could be for everyday trips like commuting and groceries.
Scoot currently offers a small fleet of scooters which are made available on demand, similar to how bicycle-sharing systems work. Still in private beta, there are just 10 scoots at four locations in SoMa (San Francisco), which have been used with 120 riders. But with today’s additional funding, the plan is to now expand the group of testers and launch widely in San Francisco, followed by other strategic cities in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and elsewhere.