Three years ago, the idea of scooters as a notable vehicle for microtransportation caused a lot of raised eyebrows. Regardless, Finland welcomed Samocat Sharing to pilot kick-scooter stations in Otaniemi. After a successful run in the campus area, and some help from Helsinki Business Hub, the company has now launched 28 scooter stations across the Vuosaari area in Helsinki adding electric scooters to the mix. As far as Samocat Sharing is concerned, new smart mobility initiatives are alive and kicking. The start-up’s future plans not only include expanding the city scooter service globally but implementing stations into industry and business environments as well.
Samocat Sharing is a scooter sharing service unlike the rest. In addition to providing vehicles and a digital service platform, it offers users and partners docking stations, ensuring that the service stays organized and above all safe.
“We are a mobile scooter service AND station provider. First and foremost, we offer an organized system – after all, our operations are station based, not free floating. Keeping the streets and sidewalks tidy and in order is really a question of safety above all else. That is what separates us from other scooter providers,” Tuomas Korhonen, project manager at Samocat Sharing emphasises.
The service enables users to rent a kick or electric scooter through a mobile app. Scooters are available at docking stations where you choose a free vehicle, scan its QR code and then enjoy your scooter for as long as you wish. Once you no longer need the scooter, just return it to any station and the app charges your credit card. The service is easy and coordinated and complements the popular city bike service as scooters are a great way to travel that last kilometre or two.
Helsinki is a forerunner for smart city solutions
After getting acquainted with local business development organizations at and after Slush in 2016, the scooter-sharing start-up launched a kick-scooter service pilot in Otaniemi.
“Finland really accepted us with open arms. Finns are not afraid to experiment and help beginners to kick off pilot projects. So, we founded a subsidiary and opened an office. Doing business is quite simple. People are friendly and almost everyone speaks English. That’s why we chose Finland as the base for our EU and Nordic Expansion,” Sergej Pisarenko, co-founder and co-owner of Samocat Sharing says.
Helsinki Business Hub introduced Samocat Sharing to various ongoing pilot programmes and key players in the area. HBH also worked closely to familiarize the city of Helsinki and its innovation company Forum Virium with the newcomer. As a result, the scooting start-up took part in Helsinki regional transport authority HSL’s IdeaLab competition – and won. As a result, a pilot of 28 scooter docking stations, 200 kick scooters and 200 electric scooters launched in May, providing Helsinkians a new smart transport option.
Helsinki has a very positive and innovative attitude when it comes to smart mobility. This really is the perfect testing ground and launch pad for smart new mobility!
Tuomas Korhonen, Project Manager, Samocat Sharing
“The Espoo pilot in Otaniemi was a great springboard, but naturally, we have developed the service. We added electricity to our new docking stations in Helsinki and can now offer both kick and electric scooters. I’m hoping that after the Vuosaari pilot we’ll have 200 stations across the city. Vuosaari and Helsinki are ideal for scooters for several reasons. The terrain is fairly even, and sidewalks are in good condition. Helsinki has a very positive and innovative attitude when it comes to smart mobility. This really is the perfect testing ground and launch pad for smart new mobility!” Korhonen explains.
The pilot will be run in the Vuosaari area until the end of October 2019. However, the scope of the service in not set in stone; demand and use are being monitored carefully and Samocat Sharing are prepared to add stations and scooters if and when needed.
The best people for the job
Setting up operations requires local knowhow and connections. Helsinki Business Hub helped Samocat Sharing organize meetings and negotiation processes with the necessary organizations and people, advised on the specifics of business and work in Finland, and provided contacts to top-quality lawyers and accountants.
HBH has employees who are engaged, specialized and real professionals in their field. They know close to all the key people within a particular market, and they are dedicated.
Sergej Pisarenko, co-founder and co-owner, Samocat Sharing
“The role of Helsinki Business Hub was very significant to us. HBH has employees who are engaged, specialized and real professionals in their field. They know close to all the key people within a particular market, and they are dedicated – like a caring grandmother with her grandson. For a company that wants to start a business in Finland, this is the most important advantage. We did not receive such attention and participation anywhere else,” Pisarenko describes.
According to Korhonen, cooperation between the two organisations is ongoing,
“We continue to work in close quarters. HBH are always ready to help us with contacts or advice, and they are very proactive in initiating ideas and new partnerships.”
New locations, new applications
Currently Samocat Sharing is registered in Finland, and their Finnish team includes one full-time employee. While scooter and docking station maintenance for the Helsinki pilot has been outsourced, it is an opportunity to see what kind of resources are required in the future. It is possible, that indirect employment might turn into direct hires relatively soon. Samocat Sharing’s future targets include expanding to 10 or so Finnish cities and piloting the service in other destinations in the EU but also in the UK, Egypt, India and the Middle East.
And there is more. Plans are being drawn to franchise the service and offer organisations a safe, easy and practical means of microtransport on factory sites or business environments such as logistics sites, harbours, airports or campuses and vacation villages. Due to such an organized system, companies could make use of scooter efficiency all the while ensuring safety and monitoring vehicle use. This new business model is something Helsinki Business Hub will definitely be helping Samocat Sharing bring to life.