Business to push with your foot: how Russian scooter rental stations set the world trend

Speed, dynamism, movement are integral features of a metropolis. Running through transport points, endless

transfers - metro, bus, trolleybus.At this stage, a few minutes may be missing, which can be key. A canceled meeting, a train leaving before your eyes, a missed turn at the doctor’s office—little things that can cause everything to go differently.

Samocat Sharing is a Russian company,providing scooters for rent using automatic stations. The company of microtransport pick-up points, created in 2015 by Vasily Bykov, has become a global pioneer in this area of ​​business - scooter sharing.

Photo: Samocat Sharing

"The idea was in the air, but the first Americanthe projects appeared only two years later, ”recalls Vasily Bykov. “In 2017, the former top manager of Uber and Lyft, Travis Wanderzanden, founded Bird in Santa Monica, a rental service for electric scooters. At about the same time, LimeBike and Spin appeared. But in 2015, there was nothing of the kind, and I was not acquainted with Wanderzanden. In addition, the overwhelming number of scooter projects are not microtransport stations, but simply electric scooters without stations. ”

The founder of the project understood how important it is to increasethe speed of movement of residents of ever-hurrying cities where transport cannot help out. Disembarking passengers at a metro station, an endless stream of people. And now, next to the station there is an automated scooter pick-up point. Simple, fast and safe.

Samocat Sharing's own network of stations already operates in Russia and Finland. You can rent a scooter near the metro, in exhibition centers and at the airport.

The idea that began with the family

Scooters reminded Vasily Bykov of themselvesconstantly, as if pushing to open a new business direction. My daughter’s passion for scooters is fateful point number one, her own childhood memories are a reason for reflection, and the final chord is the airport, the scooter and the birth of an idea.

“It all starts with the family. When you see a scooter or a person on a scooter, I want to try, - the project founder believes. - First you buy children. And they start driving faster than you. Then you buy yourself and you understand what a great scooter solution is. It’s then that the scooters end up on the balcony or in the basement, and at that moment, when I want to go right here and now, they are in the trunk. ”

Photo: Samocat Sharing

And then the idea - scooters in the zoneavailability, when they are needed. Why a scooter, not a bicycle, should solve the “last mile” problem, Bykov explains that mobility is important. On a bike in the subway, underground passages and in the crowd is impossible to drive. In addition, the ratio of sizes matters. Stations that give out bicycles need decent space, and scooters can be issued everywhere. Considering the fact that they also add up, a large platform for the rolling point is not needed. Schering is convenient because you can transfer to a scooter in one place, and return it in another automated point.

Vending and sharing

Bykov came to the business, having a specialty,associated with heat and power plants, and experience as a shift supervisor at the oil terminal Lukoil in Kaliningrad. There were certain developments in the launch of public projects - youth, children and volunteer. Before the scooter business, Bykov worked with his own vending project, which started in 2005. Automatic distribution of tea, toys and household goods was established in Kaliningrad and brought a good income. In 2009, Vasily sold a vending company with 200 machines for $ 1 million. The proceeds became the financial basis for new projects.

Over time, the idea arose to connect the scooter andautomatic, that is, to arrange the issuance of mini-transport without the participation of people. Scooter sharing was a completely new business idea, even by global standards. Because in the West, companies, including Uber, are developing electric scooter rentals, while Samocat Sharing is purely muscle scooters.

“I initially understood that for the organizationscooter rental, we need a unified IT platform from which automatic stations will be controlled. - recalls Bykov. — And you need to create an application that users will download to their phone and payments will be made from the application. All this required decent financial investments.”

Europe, business school, failure

After Vasily stopped studyingvending machines, he tried himself in different businesses. A year later, in 2010, having moved to Europe, he began to engage in social activities. In Belgium, he organized youth forums under the programs of the Council of Europe: he took part in the work of the Turtle Foundation and Greater-Europe. And in 2012 he went to France. From this country, Vasily Bykov went to Africa as a volunteer, where he took part in a charity program to save turtles. This idea looks strange, but Vasily was simply interested in doing charity work, and the spirit of adventure is also inherent in him.

Doing business in Europe in unfamiliar markets was more difficult, especially without a specialized education, Vasily understood this and went to business school.

"I studied at Vlerick - at number 1 business school inBrussels and number 10 in Europe, ”recalls Bykov. “I received a degree in marketing and management. But at that time I understood that it was necessary to get a good top business education, not only to get a job, namely, to understand how top management works. ”

Photo: Samocat Sharing

On the business course in business schoolVasily Bykov decided to present his idea of ​​creating a network of scooter machines. The group caught fire, developed a business plan, and all received unsatisfactory ratings. After the presentation of the case, the teachers rendered a verdict - the idea is not relevant. The focus of the business school was focused on existing global developments. Everything new was incomprehensible and rejected. Opponents were confident that the idea would not take root due to the fact that no adult would use the children's scooter. The team with which Bykov was preparing the presentation agreed with the opinion of the teachers, and the future share businessman was left alone. It took a year to understand: you need to return to Russia and look for your team of like-minded people.

"I calculated the possible profit, determined the periodpayback. - Vasily tells. - In Europe, renting a bike costs € 2 per hour. If you buy 12 scooters and each of them will ride one hour a day, it turns out that you can earn € 24 a day. If you multiply this by 30 days, you’ll get € 600 in revenue. The costs are as follows: the automatic itself, that is, the scooter station, costs about € 1000, the niche shelves for scooters to make - another € 1000, and you can buy the scooters themselves - € 1000. It turns out € 3000. That is, a maximum of five months, and you will recoup the costs. "

Return and start

In 2015, Bykov returned to Moscow and startedsearching for employees and developers. I searched everywhere: through the Foresight analytical platform, among familiar graduates and specialists from NTI and Moscow State University. It was simply impossible to launch such a large-scale project alone.

Vasily Bykov was lucky with the teamlike-minded people. His idea was supported by the future co-founders of Samocat Sharing, Denis Medvedev and Sergey Pisarenko. Denis and Vasily met on the "Foresight Fleet" in 2015. Sergey and Vasily - in 2016 at Generations S.

In the fall of 2015, the Bulls registered a companySamocat Sharing. It was necessary to distribute responsibility in areas of the project. Medvedev and Pisarenko managed financial and marketing issues, Bykov was in charge of the technology part. At the first stage there was no attraction of third-party investments. Own funds made it possible to pay for the services of developers and purchase materials.

Sergey Pisarenko— born in Kharkov, graduated from the InstituteModern knowledge in Minsk. He worked as the head of the sales department of Renaissance Capital, the head of the department for working with VIP clients of Citibank and the head of the department for working with clients of B&N Bank. He is a co-founder and investor in the innovative companies Activil and Risilika.

Denis Medvedev— was born in St. Petersburg, graduated from stateUniversity of Telecommunications. prof. M.A. Bonch-Bruevich and HSE. Product director, technology broker, project management expert. Before moving to Samocat Sharing, he was involved in the development of service infrastructure and relations with government agencies at the Skolkovo Innovation Center.

"At that time, the search for investors was notprimary task. It was important to find specialists who would be able to solve all technical issues, ”notes Vasily. “Schering assumed good knowledge of electronics, IT technologies, banking services. It was necessary to connect the cloud system, a mobile application, it was necessary to solve production issues. For the production of scooter stations, iron was required (and a third-party contractor was needed to manufacture the station buildings), special locks, sensors, and much more. ”

The first scooter was assembled in February 2016China based on the model of the French manufacturer Decathlon. After which it was necessary to create an application and the rental station itself. Initially, Vasily Bykov invested about $100 thousand of his own funds in the project.

Accelerators and help contests

An important role was played by participation in the programs.Generation S accelerator. The presentation of the idea on this site made it possible to concretize it and created conditions for moving forward. In December 2015, the company ranked second in the Smart City track, receiving a grant of 1.2 million rubles from GenerationS and 2 million rubles from the Bortnik Fund.

In 2016, the company received an investmentassistance in the amount of $110 thousand from the New York accelerator Urban X. Vasily learned about this accelerator absolutely by accident, he was simply looking on the Internet for organizations that invest in startups. He did not expect that simply by submitting information to the American accelerator, he would immediately receive support from the American accelerator. However, I sat down and filled out the application. They answered him and invited him to New York to meet him. The project made an impression. At this time, serious work was already underway in Russia on the implementation of scooter stations.

Photo: Samocat Sharing

“The first stage is the development of industrialdesign: designing, visualizing how it might look. But there is very little expertise in Russia and generally in the world to create projects related to metal and electronics, ”adds Vasily. “You can’t do anything in two or three months. It turns out two or three years. Thanks to Skolkovo, we are now releasing a new version in two to three months. And then it turned out that half a year was waiting. By 2016, we made the first working version of the scooter station. She went to the series only in 2017 ”.

The first scooter network was launched in 2017in Finland, in Espoo. In order to rent a scooter, you had to download a special mobile application and link a card for payment. Testing of 7 stations by all students at Aalto University helped to find technological shortcomings and improve the service. During the testing period, problems constantly arose with electronics and breakdowns of the scooters themselves.

A year later, Samocat Sharing became winnersIdeaLab competition organized by the Helsinki Transport Authority (HSL). Under the terms of the competition, designed to identify new ideas for the development of urban mobility, HSL will allocate approximately one million euros to the winner. This money made it possible to install 50 stations in Finland, partnered with Samocat Sharing Oy.

Scooter sharing: production and franchisee

Currently Samocat Sharingmanufactures about 200 microtransport stations per month. The production line is located in a workshop with an area of ​​1000 square meters. meters, which the company rents on the territory of the Quartz plant in Kaliningrad. The final assembly also takes place here: installation of electronics, anti-vandal locks, antennas, sensors, network indicators, mounting blocks and other things into the station housing. Currently there are 20 people working on the assembly. The iron casing and electronics are made by suppliers, including Russian ones. The scooters themselves are ordered from China.

“We have come a very long way in search of reliablesuppliers in Russia ", - said Bykov. “For example, the Kaliningrad company AK-Products supplies the enclosures for the stations. Cases that were manufactured by various companies in Russia were tested, but AK-Products were the best. ”

The demand for scooter rental is high - for a month inAbout 20 thousand rentals take place in Moscow. The popularity of sharing is explained by its convenience. All you need to do is download the mobile app, link your card, and you can rent a scooter for any time. Traditionally, the rental season in Moscow opens on April 25. Samocat Sharing offices operate in Russia and Finland, there are orders from franchisees from Spain, Armenia, Georgia, France, and Cyprus.

Samocat Sharing franchise programhas been developing since 2018, although Vasily initially had the idea to sell stations as a franchise. But such sales could only be organized after the company itself tested this business, that is, it installed its own network of scooter stations. Since the beginning of 2019, 35 rental stations have been installed in the center of Moscow, in the Yakimanka area and near Gorky Park. Now Samocat Sharing has a network of franchisees in Moscow, Novosibirsk, Sochi, Krasnodar and St. Petersburg.

According to March 2019, the company SamocatSharing has sold 400 scooter stations to its franchisee partners. Equipment for the stations is provided at a cost of 396–440 thousand rubles per station for ten scooters. For connecting to the system, each franchisee pays a commission of 20% of the cost of travel. As experience shows, the monthly turnover of one station for ten scooters is from 30 to 180 thousand rubles.

“There is also an additional cost item forof all scooter stations - losses from vandalism by passers-by. In this case, the alarm system and video surveillance camera next to the station come to the rescue,” complains Vasily. “Up to 5% of the budget is spent on equipment repairs. Now we are investing more in production in order to produce 10,000 stations per month already in 2020.”