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Scoot Network to Begin Beta Tests in San Francisco

The Chinese-made electric scooters have a top speed of 30 miles per hour, fast enough to keep up with city traffic.

Published: 11-May-2012

Feeling like standard car sharing, via networks like Zipcar, is getting a bit old? Well, a startup called Scoot Networks is officially coming out of stealth on Wednesday at the Launch Festival in San Francisco and is announcing its Zipcar-style sharing network for electric scooters. The company has been incubated out of the accelerator program Greenstart, which launched last year and more recently revamped its focus on incubating startups in the intersection of green and IT.

Scoot Networks is still in closed alpha mode (meaning its not open to the public just yet), but CEO Michael Keating explained to me in an interview that the company is building out a network of electric scooters that can be rented out by the minute or hour (like Zipcar cars) and unlocked with an iPhone. The iPhone will act as the scooter’s dashboard throughout a ride (the company removed the old instrument panel), and Keating told me the company “wanted to peg our transportation service to the rapid pace of innovation of smartphones.”

Keating, a Harvard Business School grad, says the emergence of low-cost Chinese electric scooters (there are 25 million of these in China already, he says), European bike-sharing networks and new real-time transportation services like Uber are changing the face of urban transportation and have paved the way for Scoot Networks. As cities become even more crowded, figuring out new systems of transportation beyond the car, and utilizing IT, will be a growing trend.

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