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When I was a kid, a scooter was a toy. Big fat wheels, a handlebar far too tall and a faulty brake which meant you had to use your black thongs as a workaround ‘slowing down mechanism’, hoping the tread would hold out and save your sole. Yesterday I had yet another real world experience which demonstrated how quickly our world is changing.

I was in Brisbane on a client meeting where my partner and I noticed a young professional man fly pass on a brightly coloured scooter – complete with backpack and white helmet. And when I say ‘fly past’ – I’m not talking the leisurely speed of a senior citizen on an electric scooter…I’m talking 30km/hour fast and completely silent. I managed to catch a glimpse at the sticker running up the handlebar – “Lime S”. Off to Google we go.

Within 2 minutes I’m at the App Store downloading the Lime Scooter App. It opens without delay and I’m presented with a screen which looks like this. I can see the location of scooters, I can make the scooter sing out so I can locate it, see the battery level and even report it as missing if it’s not where it’s meant to be.

And voila, I can see a ‘gaggle’ of Lime Scooters on the opposite corner so we head over to take a better look. Electric Scooters, beautifully designed. An easy to use finger throttle on one side, hand brake on the other with a QR code on the cross bar. Back to the app, I take a picture of the QR code and I’m asked to enter my credit card details, which I do, in a state of anticipation not even considering the value of this ride I’m about to take.

 

The credit card’s accepted and I’m advised of the price to travel on the scooter and asked if I wish to unlock the scooter. ‘Absolutely’ is my resounding response and before you know it, the inbuild speaker on the scooter sounds a most joyous tune of success and the small dashboard (yep, dashboard!) lights up and we are off. I buckle up my fashionable (?) dripping wet (tropical summer rain) white skid – lid and off I go. With a little trepidation (I can just see the headlines – “44 year old man shatters head in scooter tragedy”) I kick off to get some speed and then the throttle kicks in. The speedo is showing 17kmh up hill, it’s as smooth as silk and seemingly very powerful. Brakes work, check. The high tech speedo showing my speed, trip distance and battery life – the only thing missing is a reading on my heart rate which is beating through the roof. My 0.6km trip absolutely made my day. And very quickly the application of this new mode of transport became so very clear. Inner city commuting, to and from work, between meetings, to mates places and the local shops.

 

As a Victorian, I’ve not seen or heard of Lime previously so we dig a little deeper. The business model is very impressive. Questions immediately raised such as “how do you charge them, who maintains them, theft / damage issues etc” are easily determined with a little google assistance.

 

Maintenance: JUICERS are punters living in Brisbane who earn money by collecting a number of scooters by 10pm each evening and charging them at home whilst performing basic maintenance. BRILLIANT model – engaging the community to take care of the stock and be invested in the business. Apparently less than 1% of scooters are vandalized or stolen and all have inbuilt GPS which assists in tracking them.

 
Restrictions: By law in Brisbane you cannot ride these on the road unless in a dedicated bike lane. So in the CBD you mostly ride them on the footpath. Uh oh. Very quiet, very fast and a very good chance of some having consumed alcohol on their way home and WHAM… Lime suggest all liability lies with the user. This has damage written all over it.

 

Surely Lime will finally remove the share bikes system which has failed so dismally Australia – over. No one wants to cruise to a business meeting all hot and sweaty after riding up the Paddington hills on a pushy!

COST: Lime Scooters cost around $3 for 10 mins. That’s a fair price and certainly has the added benefit of fun and flair!

 

Flexibility: You can simply leave the scooter wherever you want when you are done – as long as it’s on a footpath and out of the way. You cease your trip, ‘close’ the scooter and take a photo to show exactly where it was.

 

Reporting: You are presented with an invoice and map of your trip

 

Who’s LIME? It’s a BIG business. As we contemplated the impact Lime might have on the likes of Uber, we quickly learn that Uber is one of the key investors along with Google’s parent investment arm Alphabet. Lime has attracted $335mill US in investment, valuing the business at $1.1billion. A billion dollar scooter business! And one which employs (or at the very least supports by way of maintenance payments) many hundreds of people in each city

 

Certainly the way we commute across town has changed dramatically with Uber and other ride sharing. But Lime adds a new dimension of cost effective, flexible, fun and immediacy which is adding another layer of disruption to the Taxi industry. Marketing is almost solely reliant on Media, Social marketing & word of mouth. No need to take out print ads or billboards on every corner and the word spreads so very effectively amongst the target market. Clean (ish) commuting with zero pollution and a low footprint makes Lime a very compelling travel option.

 

Already in over 100 cities and growing, you’re sure to see the lime green electric machines taking over the streets shortly. You might just want to check both ways again before cross the street! Especially if I’m at the controls!

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Stu Atkins is co – founder of Social Seedling and a leading keynote speaker specializing in the Future, Disruption, Social Media & Innovation.