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Hoop rolls out sustainable scooter-share scheme

(left to right) Hoop founders Khalifa Laaksonen, Jerry Jalava, Ville Väätäinen, Tony Kuitunen want to offer zero-emission alternatives to private motoring. Hoop

Move over cars, here come electric scooters. Finnish startup Hoop has made them more durable, sustainable and city-friendly.

Jerry Jalava is on a mission. The Hoop founder wants to reduce private motoring by offering zero-emission alternatives for short journeys. His first venture? Sustainable electric scooter sharing. The service, also called Hoop, is already available in Dubai and will launch soon on Jalava’s home turf of Helsinki.

“Our e-scooters act as an extension of public transport and offer a fun, convenient and environmentally friendly way to move from one place to another,” he says.

Less chaos, less waste

Hoop isn’t the first company to jump on the e-scooter market, but it knows how to stand out in two key ways.

The first is avoiding the chaos of scooters being left everywhere. Like most rivals, Hoop does offer a dockless service, and the scooters are found and unlocked using the Hoop app. But to incentivise users to keep cities tidy, the company has created Hoop Stops.

The Hoop app enables people to find scooters in their area. Image: Hoop

“Hoop Stops are physical parking areas confined by flags,” explains Jalava. “When a user leaves our scooter in one of these areas they get a cheaper journey. This way we can help keep cities clean and offer our service in places with the highest demand.”

Hoop also believes it can stand out through environmental responsibility. According to some estimates, the average lifespan of a shared scooter is just 28 days. This is because most scooter-share companies use vehicles designed for consumer use.

“We wanted to create an environmentally friendly device with durability in a class of its own,” Jalava says. “Our scooter’s lifespan is around a year. When you can’t fix it anymore, it can be melted and reused as material. We don’t want to bring more waste into this world.”

A fast roll out

Despite its success and business model differentiators, Hoop is a relatively young company. Launched in the summer of 2018, the company was inspired by a visit Jalava paid to Santa Monica, the US, in 2017. His trip coincided with scooter sharing launching in the city. The dockless business model divided opinion and spurred Jalava to think about how to make it more sustainable.

Hoop’s operations began when Jalava found like-minded co-founders in Ville Väätäinen, Tony Kuitunen and Khalifa Laaksonen. By early March 2019, the service had launched in Dubai. Helsinki will follow in a month or two and additional cities in the Middle East and the Nordics later in 2019.

“Our goal is to radically reduce private motoring and make cities greener,” says Jerry Jalava.

But why couple Dubai and Helsinki? These two unlikely bedfellows have one surprising compatible business connection: climate. During the rough Nordic winters, Hoop can move its fleet to the Middle East then return them in the summer when demand in the Middle East drops due to extreme heat.

“The other reason is the high barrier of market entry in the Middle East,” Jalava says. “We have done a lot of legwork there, and we are working closely with local authorities. We are the only company with a permit to operate in Dubai’s Silicon Oasis, and we have agreed terms with a local sponsor to support our expansion throughout the Middle East.”

Hoop’s relationship building in the region has paid off. Dubai’s Silicon Oasis district has decided to build a bike and scooter route network across the whole city to support services like Hoop. And Jalava believes close working ties between cities and mobility companies is crucial.

“Our goal is to radically reduce private motoring and make cities greener. E-scooters are only one solution,” Jalava concludes. “The world isn’t changed by anyone alone, but change requires many players and collaboration, and we want to foster that.”

Hoop’s electric scooters launched in Dubai in early March. Helsinki will follow as the spring weather arrives in the Nordics. Image: Hoop
By: Eeva Haaramo