(Original article Tech in Asia https://www.techinasia.com/talk/singapores-zipcar-escooters-coming)
by Hwee Min Ang
Last month, local startup, Telepod, secured US$54,000 worth of investment from strategic investor Mobot, a major electric scooter supplier from Singapore. The sum includes seed-funding, customized scooters, and office space.
“Mobot, being an e-scooter supplier and manufacturer, can support us in terms of maintenance and product development,” said 26-year-old co-founder and CEO, Gan Jin Ni.
Telepod’s e-scooter sharing platform is on track to launch mid next year. Its e-scooter and docking station prototypes were also on show at the Singapore International Transport Congress and Exhibition on October 19 and 21.
What is Telepod exactly?
Telepod is an e-scooter sharing service that focuses on last-mile distances. According to Jin Ni, last-mile distances can be anywhere from 1 to 5km, and are defined as the distance between your main mode of transport and your destination.
“These first mile, last mile problems are the most time consuming parts, and are the weakest link in public transportation,” said co-founder and COO Louis Goh, 26.
According to Louis, Telepod users will save about one-third of the total time they typically take to reach their destination.
The company also plans to use scooter-docking stations that can be moved from place to place. These mobile docking points address the problem of locating the nearest scooter. Jin Ni, an engineer, said: “If there’s a lamp post right outside your house, we can even attach the docking point to the lamp post.”
Users can soon sign up for and use Telepod’s e-scooter sharing service on its mobile application, which is set to launch for both Android and iOS by early next year.
According to Gan, users select the nearest available scooter on the application. After entering their destination, they can choose the docking point closest to it, and then book their ride. Commuters can subscribe to the service for a fee, or be charged by the time they spend on the scooter instead.
Trial run to the launch
The company had their first trial run using Mobot scooters at Republic Polytechnic in August. Over the two-day trial, 202 trips were made.
Brandon Lee, an 18-year-old student, said: “I was very disappointed when I heard that it was the last day of the trial. I want this service to launch quickly so I can subscribe as soon as possible.”
According to Brandon, his ride from Woodlands MRT to school only took five minutes, compared to his usual ten to fifteen minute walk.
Along with their mobile app, Telepod will be launching in test bed areas early next year. Target areas include Punggol and the Central Business District.