Skolkovo’s resident scooter-sharing startup Samocat Sharing will expand to Helsinki next summer with a network of 50 docking stations across the Finnish capital.
Samocat Sharing founder Vasily Bykov pictured at a scooter dock inside the Skolkovo innovation city. Photo: Sk.ru.
Both kick-scooters and electric scooters will be available for short-term rental in and around the city centre after the Russian company won first prize in Helsinki’s IdeaLab competition aimed at finding new ideas for the future of mobility. Helsinki’s regional transport authority (HSL), which provided some one million euros in prize money for the winners of the competition, has said it will create the 50 docking stations for the system, Finland’s national broadcaster Yle reported on its English-language website this week.
“We’re happy that our scooter rental system was deemed to be of value in a city as focused on innovations as Helsinki,” Vasily Bykov, founder of Samocat Sharing, told Sk.ru.
“It’s good to know that our development aimed at making getting around cities more convenient and enjoyable is getting a positive response: that’s truly gratifying and inspiring,” he said.
In Finland, Samocat Sharing is represented by its Finnish partner, Samocat Sharing Oy.
“The service is a great example of future services,” Tiina Kähö of the Smart and Clean foundation, who helped judge the competition, was quoted as saying by Yle.
“Scooters are an effective mode of transport for the first or last kilometre of a journey.”
Samocat already has successful experience of working on the Finnish market, having launched a pilot project in Espoo last year. The company, a resident startup of Skolkovo’s energy-efficient technologies cluster, has for some time operated a scooter-sharing system inside the Skolkovo innovation city, and earlier this year, began launching docking stations around central Moscow – just in time for the World Cup.
Samocat Sharing enables people to rent a kick scooter for as long as they need after downloading an app and registering a credit card for payment. The fully solar-powered stations are all equipped with free WiFi to make it easier for people to download the app on the spot. Rental tariff options include per hour, per day and even a 7-day travel pass.
The scooters are designed to solve the last mile problem in smart cities, such as travelling from the metro to the office, as well as inside university campuses or other large-scale places of work, such as the giant Skolkovo Technopark, where kick scooters are a very common sight. The company claims it can save up to 23 minutes a day per employee in faster travel time: more than 100 working hours a year per employee.
Samocat’s founders – Bykov and Sergei Pisarenko – believe that kick scooters have several advantages over bikes: they are cheaper and lighter, and can be taken on the metro and other forms of transport. In addition, their stations take up less room on the streets or inside buildings.
In September, Samocat Sharing announced it had started selling slots to buy the docking stations and operate them as a franchise from next year. Docking stations with 10 scooters included were on sale at an introductory offer priced at 360,000 rubles ($5,500) per station. The station owner would keep the money earned from users renting scooters and pay commission to Samocat Sharing.
The payback period on a docking station is just one rental season (seven months in Moscow), the company says. Samocat Sharing has already launched in Novosibirsk and is preparing to enter several other Russian cities, including St. Petersburg, Sochi and Krasnodar, as well as cities in France, Germany, Spain and Cyprus.