Last week, on the same day Uber Eats revenue surpassed Uber Rides for the first time, Shea Gates officially launched Torii Scooters in Orlando, Florida. The timing may be coincidental, but the circumstances are not, since Gates was motivated to launch his business after seeing a surge in demand for vehicle rentals among Uber Eats and DoorDash drivers in his city.
As food delivery continues to be an essential service during the global COVID-19 crisis, Gates has joined the ranks of entrepreneurs currently using scooters and bikes to support those on the front lines (health care workers, delivery drivers, supermarket staff, etc.)
From concept to reality, it took Gates about a week to launch his business. Here’s how it works: Torii rents out individual Segway MAX scooters to food-delivery drivers on a daily basis. The drivers pay Gates a $25/day flat rate directly through Torii’s app, and then these drivers can use the scooters to fulfill their delivery orders and commitments for whatever contract they have in operation (which have been Uber Eats and DoorDash, for now).
If a driver wishes to extend a rental, he or she can do so through the Torii app’s Wallet feature. Gates delivers the vehicles to the drivers every morning along with a lock and charger, and they return the scooters to his storage facility when they’re done. (He disinfects each vehicle before turning it around to the next renter.) Using Joyride’s backend management system, Gates sets specific geofencing parameters for the drivers, where he ensures vehicles automatically slow down or stop if they steer beyond the parameters. If there’s any issue in terms of vehicle support, notifications are all made through the user app, too.
“Everyone needs food, and right now it’s about using technology and the power of mobility to help people get what they need without leaving their houses,” Gates says. From a business perspective, Gates is helping other entrepreneurs get a steady source of revenue during these uncertain times.
“The demand for food delivery is going to increase significantly. DoorDash has a campaign where they’re looking to onboard 100,000 new restaurants across the U.S. over the next few months,” Gates says. “A huge volume of deliveries means a huge number of drivers will be needed.”
Gates adds that apps like DoorDash can identify if drivers are using scooters/bikes over cars, and if it’s the former, they will be given more deliveries over a small geographical area. “If you’re in a car, DoorDash will make you drive 10 miles away, but if you’re delivering on a scooter, your trip is usually within a mile, meaning you can get more done in a day. So drivers who even own cars are still opting for scooter rentals in order to fulfill more orders.”
In terms of fulfilling his own order for scooters, Gates says he was able to get his Segway vehicles with very minimal delays (it helps that Segway is located nearby in Atlanta, Georgia). Between accessing more hardware and using Joyride’s software platform to scale his operations, Gates plans to increase the number of scooters in his rental system to 400 vehicles by the summer, and he intends to extend beyond the Orlando area by then, too.
“The name Torii means transitioning from a bad situation to something better,” Gates says. “I’d like to think I’m helping people who may otherwise be unemployed make a substantial living by using my scooter rentals, and while providing an essential service at the same time.”