An electric scooter startup will charge you $39 a month so you can keep and use a single scooter to avoid sharing with other people
- An electric scooter startup is rolling out a subscription service that will allow users to pay a monthly or annual fee to use and hold onto the same e-scooter.
- For $39 a month plus a one-time $50 setup fee, you can rent an Unagi's Model One scooter instead of sharing street e-scooters with other users as is typical with scooter startups.
- Unagi cofounder David Hyman told Business Insider that the subscription concept has been in the works for a while, but the "timing is good" during the no-touch climate of the pandemic.
- The concept could be a solution in the ride-sharing world as customers increasingly are skittish to use a micro-mobility vehicle after another person has already used it.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Unagi, a San Francisco Bay Area-based electric scooter startup, will let you pay a monthly fee to hang onto the same scooter, a service that could solve a problem in the ride-sharing industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The company now offers two subscription plans as part of its Unagi All-Access service. The first is a pay-as-you-go $39-a-month plan and the second is a $408 annual subscription, which amounts to a $34 monthly fee. There's a one-time $50 setup fee for both plans, and insurance is included for if your scooter is stolen or damaged. However, there's an $85 deductible for a replacement scooter.
Customers who purchase the subscription will receive the company's Model One scooter, which is priced at $840 to buy for a single motor and $990 for a dual motor. It has about 15 miles to a charge and takes about 5 hours to charge.
Unagi cofounder David Hyman told Business Insider that there are added perks of owning or renting one through a subscription vs accessing it only on the street, like not having to worry about the batteries running dead.
"Having one in your possession, when it's lightweight and portable, far exceeds a street scooter," Hyman said.
According to the company website, a team member will deliver your scooter to you for free within 24 hours after purchasing a subscription. The monthly payment service will roll out in Los Angeles as well as New York, a market that recently made it legal for electric scooters to operate on public streets. Unagi plans to roll out in more cities eventually.
Hyman said Unagi's subscription concept has been in the works since mid-2019, but "the timing is good" with the hypersensitivity to touch that has become a cultural mainstay during the pandemic. The health crisis has dealt a blow to the ride-sharing world — some people are less inclined to share a ride with a stranger or use a scooter or bike that had previously been used by someone else.
Hyman also said the company's scooter sales have surged in recent months.
"Before COVID, we were selling hundreds of scooters a month, and now we're selling thousands," Hyman said.
Unagi isn't the first e-scooter startup to test a subscription service. As The Verge notes, Bird did so in mid-2019, but Hyman said the issue with Bird's plan was that it used the scooters that were designed to live on the street in its subscription model, which made "no sense at all."
"It was an afterthought and not really a focused effort," Hyman said.
Unagi was founded in 2018 and, according to its Crunchbase profile, "aims to liberate people from the tyranny of transportation frustrations." The startup has raised $3.2 million in funding from investors, including Menlo Ventures.
As for the startup's name, Hyman said it is indeed in reference to the freshwater Japanese eel. The team settled on it while mulling over potential names that are associated with electricity.
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