Spin Co-Founder Says Backing from Ford Offers an Edge Over Scooter Rivals

December 12, 2018

By Amanda Weston

The e-scooter market is steadily growing more competitive, but Spin's leader isn't fazed ー he's got Ford on his side.

"We've got a great capital backer, a company that believes in the long-term vision that we have," Euwyn Poon, co-founder and president of Spin, told Cheddar Wednesday. "And I think we're the company that's going to be here to stay."

Ford ($F) bought the e-scooter start-up in November for $100 million, a major vote of confidence for the company.

Since the purchase, Poon said "it's been a wild time." He added Spin is also "playing a bit of catch up" as rivals Bird and Lime also raise substantial capital.

But being linked to Ford has its perks ー namely, brand recognition. Poon cited "the reliability and safety" of the transportation giant's reputation.

"And also the trust in the brand and the long-lasting legacy," he said. "Ford itself was originally a mobility company. The fact that the Model T came out and provided the means for people to get around sort of between different areas in cities was just part of that whole solution. And now the solution's kind of changing in the modern era. We have cities now requiring a new form of smaller-than-car vehicle, and that's where we step in."

According to Spin, it has to double its fleet within a few months every time it lands in a new city or on a college campus.

But not all cities are thrilled about the sudden arrival of a flood of electric scooter rentals. The city of Denver, Colo., impounded hundreds of scooters without operating permits.

For Spin, communication is key.

"We've had really great reactions in talking to cities," Poon said, adding that positive reaction comes from "being the company that has been leading these conversations and approaching it the right way, as opposed to coming in and dropping scooters on the streets without permission."

"I think the first step for us is always to approach these cities and really introduce them to the concept," he said. "I think with most cities, once they realize the benefit, it really isn't a difficult challenge for them to get them on our side at all."

Poon said some areas already have the necessary infrastructure to support scooters, like the Los Angeles neighborhood of Venice Beach. But in other locations, changes are needed for the "phenomenon to really take off at scale."

"We're in the early days of this whole product rolling out," Poon said. "I think it's akin to the early days when cars coexisted on dirt roads with horses. We have a long ways to go in building infrastructure for these smaller-than-car vehicles, and that includes dedicated protected lanes for these scooters."

"And that's something that will happen over the next few years as we roll out at scale, and that's something we're working with community groups to advocate for, and it's really exciting to see the change in cities that is going to be happening in the next few years."

For full interview click here.