Bird announced today that it will sell its electric scooters to entrepreneurs and small business owners, who can then rent them out as part of a new service called Bird Platform.
The company will provide the independent operators with scooters, which they are given free rein to brand as they please, as well as access to the company’s marketplace of chargers and mechanics, in exchange for 20 percent of the cost of each ride. Bird says fleet managers, which may be independent entrepreneurs or local mom and pop bike rental shops, for example, can also collect and charge the scooters themselves.
There’s no minimum or maximum number of scooters independent operators can purchase, though they have to keep in mind local regulations that, in certain cities, limit the number of scooters permitted on the streets. Bird says the company will initially begin rolling out Bird Platform in December, targeting markets where scooters are already actively used and where regulations are a bit more relaxed. Bird Platform will be irrelevant in San Francisco, for example, where the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has put a cap on the number of e-scooters available and has refused to grant Bird a permit to operate at all.
The company hopes Bird Platform will be a helpful tool as it continues to work its way into new markets around the world.
Bird chief executive officer Travis VanderZanden said they’ve been quietly working on this product for a while and have 300 interested parties waiting to get started with the service.
“In the last year of operating, we kept getting these inbound requests from entrepreneurs that really wanted to take Bird to their cities,” VanderZanden told TechCrunch. “I think there’s been a lot of people passionate about the electric scooter movement and taking cars off the road. There are a lot of entrepreneurs who want to bring Bird to their city.”
Goat, a scooter startup located in Austin, similarly began renting its scooters to micro mobility enthusiasts in the Texas capital. Goat CEO Michael Schramm explained the launch in a company announcement at the time, according to Mashable: “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?”
Bird, valued at $2 billion, has raised $415 million in venture capital funding from CRV, Greycroft, Sequoia, Accel and others. Since launching about a year ago, it’s clocked in more than 10 million rides and expanded to some 100 cities.