San Diego startup impounds wayward e-scooters – NBC News


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By Dennis Romero

SAN DIEGO — Morning showers had moved far enough east that hung-over tourists were beginning to stretch into the winter sun. The lunchtime crowd was catching a whiff of the first patties at Woody’s Breakfast and Burgers as the nearby boardwalk was beginning to buzz with the usual odds and ends — graybeards gawking, surfers kicking back after a morning session and visitors on ubiquitous e-scooters.

One rider pulled into Pacific Beach boardwalk traffic without looking as a couple on their own e-scooters raced north, prompting a familiar hiss of sneakers sliding on sandy concrete: collision avoided. “You didn’t have to stand here very long to hear a, ‘Sorry bro,'” said Dan Borelli, who owns a bike and skate rental shop nearby.

The fresh presence of tens of thousands of dockless scooters for rent in San Diego over the last year has driven some locals absolutely loco. Alexander Curtis, general manager of Woody’s, says e-scooter users “drop them off right in front,” where travelers and the elderly alike trip over the devices.

The garage includes a day’s worth of impounds for ScootScoop.Dennis Romero / NBC News

Woody’s and neighboring eatery World Famous, however, have their own e-scooter bounty hunters who scoop them up day and night and store them until the Silicon Valley-backed concerns that put them on the street pay up. Borelli teamed up with business partner John Heinkel in January to officially launch a company, ScootScoop, that impounds e-scooters at the behest of private property owners.

The duo already has 4,500 of them packed in warehouses and garages. Most of the scofflaws pay their bounty, but a few of the half dozen or so e-scooter companies active in San Diego aren’t on board.

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“The big ones aren’t playing ball,” Borelli said. “They want their product back.”

ScootScoop charges the companies $30 to release each e-scooter. Its freelance workers will also move or stand up a scooter that’s blocking walkways or roads. The cost to the scooter firms is $3 to $5. ScootScoop contractors take photos to show their homework.

ScootScoop is also developing an app where San Diego business owners can drop a pin on a map to alert the “scoopers” to an interloper that needs to be impounded within 24 hours. The pair also hopes to go global by using a model whereby satellite operators pay licensing fees. They say they’ve already had inquiries from entrepreneurs in Mexico and Australia.



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