They faded out quietly. No one really knows when they disappeared, but slowly people started to notice that the little orange Scootaway flags were nowhere to be seen. There were no news stories, no releases, not even rumors. Scootaway just sort of…disappeared.
So what happened to the rental moped company that made such a huge entrance into the city of Columbia just last summer?
Carolina Money sought out Frank Scozzafava, the creator of the company, and he was able to provide a lot of answers.
“People think I haven’t been working on it, but there wasn’t a day that I’ve stopped working on it, since the day I conceived the idea two-and-a-half years ago,” Scozzafava told us. “We just had to take a temporary break from the test and work on it.”
Test is the important word. Scootaway was first and foremost a test to see how the market would respond to the idea of a rental scooter company. The company needed to know what works and what doesn’t, what people will pay, and if people will even like the concept.
By the end of last fall, Scozzafava learned three important lessons for his company:
Make a great app for an app-based service
The Scootaway app was glitchy and not the most user-friendly. One of the biggest flaws in the app was that it had no back-end management system, which meant that those who maintained the scooters had no way to know when something was wrong.
Scozzafava has since hired an app development team that is reworking the app to address all of the glitches and flaws.
“This time I spent five times the amount I originally spent on the app. We went through the entire app and everything that I learned, and this experienced team redesigned the app to make it user-friendly, simple, and easy."
Provide a top-notch product
Although the scooters got great mileage, they were slow and had a lot of problems. Since Scootaway has taken its leave from Columbia, Scozzafava has put an enormous amount of research into providing better scooters.
The new scooters are completely revamped. They will be fully electric and are making use of brand new battery technology that will allow the scooters to retain their mileage. The current model of the new scooters still charges the batteries through traditional methods, but Scozzafava hopes to develop better alternatives in the future.
“Our ultimate goal is to leave a zero percent carbon footprint because we’ll be charging all of the batteries for the scooters with solar power.”
Don’t skimp on the technology
The scooters themselves were a bit clunky, and they didn’t connect well with the app. Many users had a hard time getting the app to communicate with the scooter they wanted to use. This boiled down to a slow technology box inside the scooters.
Scozzafava has spent the past few months improving upon the technology inside the scooters, so that they can have a faster and more reliable connection to the user.
People who enjoyed using Scootaway will be excited to find out that it is not gone for good. Scozzafava plans to come back this summer with a completely restructured business model.
The company will operate under the name “Zapp,” (since the scooters are electric and are operated through an app), and it will sport better technology, scooters, strategy, and pricing.
“I was a lot more careful this time around,” Scozzafava told us. “This is not an easy thing to do. There were mistakes I made, there were things that were out of my control. The lesson is you have to learn from your mistakes and move forward.”
Zapp is planned to make its debut in Columbia, Greenville, and Louisiana State University sometime in June or July.