Stretching for 21 miles of shoreline along the tip of Cape Cod, Provincetown is a prime place for micromobility to thrive. There’s evidence in the recent growth of Coast Provincetown, the town’s first official shared mobility system that kicked off a wave of rentals—and some healthy competition—since launching earlier this year on the Joyride platform.
The story behind Coast Provincetown’s beginnings and business ascent is filled with interesting turns. Between the busiest rental weekend of the year and a fresh shipment of Segway Max scooters, Coast’s Founder and CEO Erika Apicella sat down for a chat with the Joyride team.
Find out what it’s really like to manage a booming fleet of bikes and scooters on the Cape Cod coast in our Q&A below:
Can you tell us about Coast Provincetown?
Erika Apicella: Coast Provincetown officially began in the summer of 2018 with eight URB-Es and analog bike locks. We launched with Joyride in April 2023 and now offer instant shared bike and scooter rentals in one of the busiest tourist spots in the US. People scan our Coast-Enjoy the Ride app and rent our branded vehicles for as long as they’d like. Currently, we rent our products out of 12 hotels in Provincetown. It’s all automated and autonomous with a simple signup process that takes under a minute.
We’ve grown from eight bikes to now over 150 pieces of equipment with our own app–and I’m about to grow three-fold.
That’s a big jump–from eight vehicles to soon more than 450. How did you get started?
I moved to Provincetown in 2016, and I saw right away that transportation was a problem. Parking is always an issue and the streets are crowded, making it difficult to get around by car. Many people also arrive here by ferry, and I wondered why there weren’t better transportation options at the wharf to take people where they wanted to go. By 2018, I connected with a number of hotels to offer rental scooters and bikes. We had five-digit bike locks and people would reserve and rent them online. Initially, I’d then meet them in person so they could sign a waiver and just hope users would return them on time.
When did you know that you needed fleet-management support in order to grow?
I was working so hard. The hotels wanted to keep this amenity going because the guests really enjoyed the convenience, and we were all making money. To make things more efficient, we needed IoT, a user app and a software management system. I went to Micromobility America in San Francisco in 2021 to learn from the experts and see how I can grow. I had no GPS, no way of charging customers if the riders and bikes didn’t come back on time, and no clue about insurance.
I did my research and looked at various software options. Joyride was a common name that kept recurring in my search through industry recommendations. Right when I left the conference I knew I had found my software partner. Initially, I didn’t think we could afford the Joyride platform, so we operated for another season by piecing together solutions. Then in the middle of our busiest month last summer, I realized there was no way to grow without the team from Joyride. They treated me like one of their multi-million-dollar contracts from the beginning. Between Joyride Garage, where I received a login to see what vehicles are available for immediate purchase, and a truly accessible 24/7 support team, I felt everything was organized on my behalf from the start.
What are common roadblocks and issues you encounter?
I would say parking is our biggest roadblock. Provincetown has strict bylaws about parking and renting in public spaces. We are respectful community members. We use our geofencing tools for this, and thankfully everything is easy on the backend. The town is so supportive. It’s covered in narrow and crowded sidewalks, but with geofencing we can control the mess. And our vehicles ride on the streets only.
How else does your team use fleet management software?
Our fleet-management dashboard is powerful, but very simple to use. The software lets my colleagues respond to tickets, collect customer information to contact them, add credits to our riders’ wallets, track our revenue by the day and keep our fleet operating. It’s as easy as going to a map on the dashboard, filtering scooters and viewing in real-time those that are under 25% in battery life. We can also see how many pieces of equipment are at each property. It takes less than 20 seconds, so we can go to the right locations to bring fresh batteries and rebalance the fleet.
The hotels are happy because our mutual customers have the equipment they need to enjoy their vacations, and my staff is happy because their job is so much easier.
We also use the dashboard to do marketing and communicate with our customers. For example, we can offer free rentals for hotel employees with promo codes. I haven’t done promotional tie-ins yet with local retailers, but I have sponsors and would like to tie them in for additional revenue. There’s so much I can do, and we’re excited about it.
You mentioned you communicate with your riders. Who rents your vehicles, and what are the common usage patterns you see?
It’s all tourism based. The year-round population in Provincetown is around 3,000. More than 100,000 people travel here for one week in August! Originally, our riders were mainly in their 20s. But because our rental process is so intuitive, we’re seeing all ages. Our town is three square miles. People feel comfortable jumping on our bikes or scooters, riding them into town or the beach and bringing them back to the hotel. The scooters we got through Joyride Garage have side illumination – they glow, so they catch everyone’s attention while keeping them safe.
What do the trips mean in terms of revenue growth?
Before our app-based system we had a reservation system for day rentals. Now rides are typically 30 mins or less, so we get people out for short rides, and this is making a lot more money than full-day rentals. We’ve been able to experiment with our pricing based on the usage we see. Our bikes and scooters are out all day being used. I access our Stripe account and see payouts every day and watch my dollars in real time and see daily growth. I’m seeing $1,000 revenue for one day, without really lifting a finger. The analytics available are putting my fleet in the best opportunity for scaling.
Our initial partner hotel is now nationwide, and they are welcoming us where they are. I can run the fleet from anywhere, while on the road and I don’t have to close down in October. The only thing holding us back has been myself. Before, I was a paramedic just troubleshooting this business on my own, and now I feel like I have a whole fleet-management team behind me. It’s a sense of ownership. So the sky’s the limit.