The scooter startups are way more important than you think, or in emoji-speak: 🛴+📱=🤖🚗🚁. Let me explain.
Right now, scooters are a lot of things – fun, cute, adventurous – but here’s a couple words I rarely hear about them: Strategic. Important. Platform play. And yet they are.
Chris Dixon has written that the next big thing will start out by looking like a toy. Scooters are literally derived from kids’ toys. It’s the perfect example. (Btw, here’s the perfect moment to re-read his essay arguing that the next big thing will start out looking like a toy)
Like a toy, a scooter seems underpowered vs other transportation options. It only takes you on short trips – a few blocks at a time. It’s cheap and makes less money than a highly profitable Uber trip to the airport. They are placed all over the place in cities, annoying many
These all seem like weaknesses, but in fact they’re strengths. Because scooters are cheap, short-range, and ubiquitous, it means consumers are adopting them as an alternative to walking
SCOOTERS COMPETE WITH WALKING! What’s the market size on that?? 🙂
As a result, the scooter apps are being downloaded in the millions by consumers – the adoption has been incredible. But now we have another starting point to capture the intent to go from Point A to Point B. That intent is valuable
These scooter trips are short, frequent, and cheap, driving high engagement in the app. In fact, if you live in SF they become a home screen app. You might check it all the time, before you walk a couple blocks
Combine those factors – millions of consumers, high frequency, and strong intent – and all of a sudden it’s obvious why this is a big deal
When you’re the first look and the highest frequency place to start your trip, it’s the pole position in consumers’ minds. Everything else is downstream
Google has one of the best business models ever. It’s the starting point. It has a search box, maps user intent to URLs, and charges everyone downstream if they want to be promoted in any way
Scooter cos like Lime are also the starting point. High frequency and high intent. It has a search box for where you want to go, and maps user intent to a trip
Scooter apps could be the starting point for a lot of kinds of trips. Alongside Apple/Google Maps, rideshare, etc – the place where you’d go to book your autonomous vehicle rides. Or your VTOL / flying car trips. It could even upsell rideshare trips from Uber and others
Scooters look like a toy, but in fact they are something else: Strategic. Important. Platform play.
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