Bird is the word: Why this scooter-sharing startup is inviting other entrepreneurs to get in on the action


US scooter-sharing startup Bird has launched a new platform allowing other startups and small businesses to run their own mini scooter empires.

Bird Platform will provide scooters-as-a-service, offering any business or individual a fleet of scooters.

Platform users also gain access to a marketplace of mechanics and chargers  people earning money for charging the electric vehicles in their homes  all for a service fee, which according to a report from TechCrunch, amounts to 20% of the cost of any rides.

Users can brand their scooters however they please, uploading their logo and choosing the colour of the frames. They can also create a branded website for their two-wheeled side hustle.

“The e-scooter movement has never been just about one company, one city or one way of providing a service,” Bird chief executive Travis VanderZanden said in a statement.

“It’s about the collective — all of us and the universal need to invest in a brighter, safer, greener future.”

According to the TechCrunch report, Bird Platform will be rolled out in December in any city Bird scooters are actively used, and where regulations allow it.

Bird has not yet made it to Australia, and although the startup says Bird Platform will soon be available globally, it’s not clear whether Aussie companies or individuals are able to sign up or how easy it will be to implement the service Down Under.

In September, Estonian ride-sharing startup Taxify unveiled plans to roll out dockless electric scooter sharing in Australia, although there hasn’t been much progress on this since.

Bike-sharing startups, however, have a somewhat strained relationship with the Australian public, with crackdowns on stray and ill-placed bikes cluttering cities and high-profile providers pulling out of the country, all while others continue to try and crack the market.

So if Bird does successfully migrate to Australia  whether adopted by a tech giant or university to provide campus transport, or even a bike-rental business looking to attach another string to its bow  there could be even more two-wheeled ride-sharing options in the not-too-distant future.

NOW READ: Uber jumps on the scooter bandwagon with “sizeable” investment in startup Lime

NOW READ: Sydney bike-sharing startup Airbike bucks the trend, launching trial run in Canberra


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3 years ago

Its a mistake to construe the placement of scooters in cities as scooter-sharing. Ride-pooling might be sharing especially if the participants take turns driving the group.
What the scooter companies are doing is simply rental of scooters. Use of the term sharing is an attempt to wrap a standard business in trendy words.

It should be no surprise to find that the main product of bicycle or scooter companies is not the solution to the last km transport question (ie the bike or scooter) it is the sale of data about the users’ behaviours. They are less interested in the transport side of the business.
They are using public infrastructure – the footpath – to make money. We need to think about this carefully. If the use of scooters in the busy areas of the city expands, it will significantly diminish the convenience of the pedestrian in using the footpath. There are already many on bikes and potentially on scooters who want pedestrians to move aside so the rider can speed along their way.

Oddly, it is seen as cool by government, while the same government encourages citizens to exercise more. Walking the last link makes you get some exercise.

In the Brisbane trial, there is no way to find a person responsible if the scooter is involved in an accident, for example with a pedestrian. The company providing the scooter points out that the responsibility is on the driver of the scooter. But there will be real problems finding that person if you are knocked over in the CBD and hurt, possibly off work for some time. And since there is no licencing of scooter drivers, there is quite likely to be no insurance to rely on. It would be desirable to require scooter companies to include insurance between users and the public as part of their fee for using the scooter. It is also very desirable to require the scooter company to provide information about a scooter and rider when a pedestrian makes a complaint of damage from the scooter. The scooter company will know from the GPS data if there was an event, and could add an inertial measurement unit to add further validation of collision data.
We shouldn’t suspend thinking just because the promoters of this scheme talk in trendy value-laden terms about their commercial plans.