Safety and sustainability are the cornerstones of US-based micromobility company Lime. Now, they are being put to test on the streets of Helsinki. Lime launched its electric scooter sharing service in the Finnish capital in July and Helsinki Business Hub accelerated the launch process by providing market information, key contacts and marketing support.
E-scooter sharing services have grown exponentially as people flock to more convenient, fast and sustainable transport options. Lime, founded in San Francisco in 2017, is among the industry pioneers with operations in over 100 cities and a global partnership with Uber. The company is on a mission to improve urban living and revolutionise the micromobility sector.
“We want to offer city dwellers a better way to move from one location to another. Our vision is a future where city centres are free from cars,” says Mikael Uusivuori, Operations Manager at Lime. “We believe e-scooters are the easiest, most convenient and an emission-free way to move around a city.”
This is particularly true for a city like Helsinki. It is compact, densely populated and shares similar eco-values to Lime.
Helsinki wants to be a forerunner in smart mobility and it shows, the atmosphere is very favourable for it.
Mikael Uusivuori, Operations Manager, Lime
“Helsinki wants to be a forerunner in smart mobility and it shows, the atmosphere is very favourable for it,” explains Uusivuori. “The city infrastructure is good for smart mobility services and people are quick to adopt new technologies.”
Lime launched its Helsinki service in early July. How it works is simple. Users download the Lime mobile app, register their payment details, find an available scooter, unlock it and scoot away. At the end of the ride, users are required to take a picture of their parked scooter. This allows Lime to check vehicles aren’t parked in an inconsiderate or even dangerous way.
This focus on safety is one of Lime’s defining features. The company also advocates helmet use, initiates new app users with a safe driving tutorial and builds its scooters in-house to ensure their quality control and safety.
Driving local relationships
Lime first set its sights on Helsinki in November 2018. The company contacted Helsinki Business Hub early on to get a clear grasp of the Finnish smart mobility ecosystem. In addition to business information, Helsinki Business Hub provided Lime with introductions to relevant shareholders and service providers and helped set up its Finnish operations.
Helsinki Business Hub was very useful in helping us to better understand Helsinki as a market. They were also very helpful in helping us connect with local partners.
Jeremy Picard, Senior European Launcher at Lime
“At the time we didn’t have our local Operations Manager, and Helsinki Business Hub was very useful in helping us to better understand Helsinki as a market. They were also very helpful in helping us connect with local partners,” says Jeremy Picard, Senior European Launcher at Lime. “We really appreciated their willingness to help and their ability to quickly support us.”
Lime made the final launch decision in April 2019 and has moved at full throttle ever since. The company recruited a local team, reached out to local partners, found a warehouse to set up operations and had its e-scooter service up and running three months later.
Currently, Lime has a team of over 10 people in Helsinki. This includes a team responsible for picking up its scooters for charging and repairs as needed.
Lime’s future plans also include organising its safety-focused ‘First Ride Events’ in Helsinki.
“These events last a few hours in a central location where we, for example, showcase safe driving and give out helmets,” Uusivuori explains. “ We are considering having one in Helsinki later in the autumn.”
All the signs indicate Lime is in Helsinki and Finland to stay. Further to growing its operations, the company wants to work closely with local authorities to build city infrastructure that reduces pollution and congestion and protects riders and pedestrians.
“We first analysed the market to ensure our scooters would benefit citizens and that we could commit for the long-term. It is important for us to create a positive impact in the city, through technology and meaningful partnerships,” says Picard. “Lime has been very well received in Helsinki and we are happy to call Helsinki our home.”