San Francisco-headquartered Scooterson, which makes intelligent electric kick-scooters, is currently in the middle of closing its $1.5 million seed round and plans to launch in Asia.
The startup is led by serial entrepreneurs Mihnea de Vries and Flavius Balaj. They are joined by Deepansh Jain. who developed the AI-assistant applicat Shifu that was bought by India’s payments major Paytm for $8 million in January 2016.
In an interaction with DEALSTREETASIA, Scooterson chief executive de Vries said about $100,000 of the committed funds are from Sai Anurag, an Indian investor and former investment-banker. As at end-July, the venture had secured commitments of $600,000 from two other angel investors based in Singapore and India.
Scooterson founders are currently in Singapore seeking to raise funds as well as to explore the viability of testing its mobility solution in the city-state’s urban environment and establishing an office there. Vidit Agrawal, who oversees strategic partnerships for transport network firm Uber Technologies in the Asia Pacific, is involved in advising the startup.
“While the R&D will be based in Singapore, we will start with our assembly in Romania for the European market. For US and Asian markets, the assembly line will be in India,” de Vries said.
Scooterson plans to make and sell a new model to be unveiled in January at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The company also plans to coordinate manufacturing to synchronise with the end of a Kickstarter campaign and deliver the product not more than a month after the fundraising campaign ends.
To date, the firm, which creates smart scooters that are eventually meant to be autonomous, claims to have $2 million in pre-sales and secured letters of intent (LOIs) from distributors in countries such as the US, the Netherlands, Spain, Norway and France, as well as from individual customers who have placed orders via its website.
“Our distributors will also pledge $10K each on Kickstarter to secure their country distributorship and pay for promoting the Kickstarter campaign in their territories. After the campaign, we will continue promoting the product together with the distributors and provide them with the marketing content,” de Vries said.
The roadmap sees Scooterson planning ride-sharing operations in the second phase, with a launch in Singapore first that it intends to replicate in major cities in the US and Europe.
According to de Vries, what sets Scooterson apart from other ride sharing services like Mobike and ofo are its vehicle and user experience. This is coupled with a subscription model that allows individual users to subscribe to its smart scooter service.
Scooterson’s use of AI, claims de Vries, can enable “redistribution of fleet and other operational optimisation”, generating cost and operational efficiencies and enhancing the overall user experience.
He adds, “We don’t see Mobike and Ofo as competitors, but as future partners and customers. Bike-sharing companies are struggling with fleet management, asset ownership, theft and maintenance. We believe Scooterson can solve all these problems with a mobility-as-a-service proposition to bike-sharing companies.”
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