Taiwan-based startup Lockists has developed an automated scooter sharing platform that can generate passive income for owners who rent out their scooters.
Smart throttle locks that avoid handing over keys
According to statistics, there are about 14 million motorcycles in Taiwan and about 800 million around the world. When founded in 2017, Lockists did not think of developing a scooter sharing platform as a business model, company founder Charlie Lin said. However, it occurred to Lin that his used scooter with an estimated residual value of NT$10,000-20,000 (US$359-718) could be rented when it was not in use. But there was a problem: He could not personally hand over the key to renters when he was away on business trips in Taiwan or abroad. This prompted Lin to create a way to allow peoplle to rent out their scooters without having to personally hand over the keys and without having to modify the scooters.
At the beginning, Lockists developed a horseshoe lock with a built-in box to hold the key and was poised for volume production, Lin noted. Based on a sample survey of scooter riders' experience in trial use of the horseshoe lock and a prototype throttle lock under R&D, 90% of them preferred the throttle lock mainly because they were unwilling to squat down to unlock horseshoe locks and let rear wheels dirty their hands, Lin indicated. Despite pressure from investors for starting production of the horseshoe locks as soon as possible to quickly get return on investment, Lockists decided to go for the throttle lock, Lin said.
The throttle lock is equipped with a built-in Blueooth module and a built-in NB-IoT module, with the former to connect the lock with smartphone apps and the latter to let the platform and its members know the location and condition of the lock via telecom networks. A built-in 5,400mA battery in the lock can be charged based on USB Type C or using mobile power sources in urgent cases. The platform is able to know the operating conditions of the battery and provide scooter owners with necessary information for managing the scooters.
The second-generation throttle lock gets both the gas pedal and front brake lever locked simultaneously and renters can unlock them by using the scooter placed in a box inside the throttle lock via Bluetooth-based unlocking. For the gas pedal and front brake lever to be locked simultaneously, it is necessary to securely put the scooter key back in the box first, a convenient procedure for members.
Lockists' smart scooter lock
Participation in CES 2022 to seek partnerships globally
Lockists will showcase its solution at CES 2022 in a bid to seek international partners and/or venture capital investors, Lin said.
Lockists had always believed countries with higher motorcycle density were likely to be those in tropical or subtropical zones, Lin noted. Upon attending in AutoClassico 2021, an annual classic car and motorcycle trade show in Portugal, Lockists received inquiries from Egypt- and Brazil-based providers of motorcycle-based food delivery services, mainly because couriers with their own motorcycles would want to rent out theirs to co-workers who do not own motorcycles. That's a way to increase income when they are off duty.
Lin said he had asked why motorcycles could not be used to bring passive income for owners just like real properties used in Airbnb. To answer the question, Lin thinks that the automated scooter sharing platform can facilitate utilization of temporarily idle scooters to create value of sharing and realize the hope of reducing global idle resources. The opinion is a concept comparable with smart city which, if unable to attract long-term participation from the public, is difficult to promote smart transportation, Lin explained.
Lockists, through participation in CES 2022, hopes to strengthen global presence and extend business operation beyond Taiwan, with Latin America, South Europe and Southeast Asia being markets with large business potential, Lin said.
Lockists poised to commercialize scooter sharing
So far, three motorcycle stores and a number of individual scooter owners with about 150 scooters in total are willing to join the automated scooter sharing platform, and Lockists will start trial operation of the platform around Taiwan after 2022 Lunar New Year, Lin noted. Besides, Lockists will finalize the design of the throttle lock.
Lockists will keep seeking participation in the platform from motorcycle stores and scooter riders for the time being, with an initial goal of letting the platform become a convenient and secure business model of matching scooter owners with rental users, Lin indicated. If the progress is smooth with the number of platform members to increase to a certain level, Lockists will attempt to invite other scooter sharing platforms to discuss the feasibility of cooperation to form a bigger ecosystem.
Lockists has cooperated with Cathay Insurance and Fubon Insurance for them to provide insurance services for scooters using the platform, Lin said. As scooter sharing is an innovative and brand new business model without parallels around the world at present, scooter insurance has to be customized in terms of insurance claim and damage estimation of which details will hinge on sufficient data to be collected by the platform and attitudes of the authorities concerned, Lin indicated.
Lockists founder Charlie Lin