Unagi, maker of stylish electric scooters, is bringing its nascent subscription service to more cities. After testing out its $40-a-month service in small parts of New York City and Los Angeles, the Oakland, California-based company is expanding its service area in both cities, while also bringing it to seven new markets, including San Francisco, Austin, Seattle, Phoenix, Miami, and Nashville.
Helping fuel its growth, the company also just closed its first round of fundraising for $10.5 million, led by the Ecosystem Integrity Fund with participation from Menlo Ventures, Broadway Angels, and Gaingels, among others. Flush with cash, Unagi plans on adding more cities in the months ahead and is eyeing a launch in Europe as well.
“We understood that there are a lot of people who have fear of commitment,” Unagi CEO David Hyman told The Verge. “It’s partially generational. There’s a large generation of consumers that prefer access over ownership.”
Unagi first launched its All-Access subscription service last August in a few neighborhoods in New York City and LA. Hyman said the demand was “incredible,” though he declined to share any specifics figures. With the added cities, Hyman said Unagi All-Access will be available to over 30 million people — roughly one-tenth of the population of the US.
There will be some changes to the original subscription. The price is increasing from $39 to $49 a month. There’s still an initial $50 service fee, but Unagi is now requiring subscribers to commit to at least three months before canceling. Maintenance and insurance from scooter theft or damage are also included in the monthly fee.
“We understood that there are a lot of people who have fear of commitment”
Originally, Unagi promised to deliver the scooter to customers within 24 hours. With the expanded service area and new markets, that wait time is being increased to 72 hours for at least the first four weeks after launch. After that point, the scooters should arrive via FedEx in under 48 hours. Previously, the scooters were being hand-delivered by a courier; now, they will arrive in the mail.
“It’s almost like a Netflix DVD mailer, but just much bigger,” Hyman said of the new packaging.
Those interested in subscribing to an Unagi scooter should check the company’s website to ensure they reside in the service area. Another change from the initial service is a range of colorful options. Subscribers can choose between four different colors for their scooter: “cosmic blue,” “sea salt” (white), “matte black,” and “scarlet fire.” (Hyman is an avowed Deadhead.)
Like most electric scooters, Unagi’s vehicles are made in China. But unlike the hordes of cheap scooters you can find on Amazon, these scooters have a definite premium feel. Unagi’s Model One scooter has two electric motors, giving it slightly more power than your average Lime or Bird scooter.
Despite the addition of another motor, the scooter is still comparatively lightweight, clocking in at only 26 pounds. The scooter has three drive modes: Beginner (9-11 mph), Advanced (13-15 mph), and Professional (15-19 mph). The lithium-ion battery allows for a range of up to 15.5 miles. And Unagi uses a blend of aluminum and carbon fiber for the frame, helping save on weight.
Unagi will sanitize each scooter before sending it out to customers, but subscribers are not guaranteed to get a brand-new scooter. That’s what makes this business model work, Hyman said.
Unagi isn’t the first scooter company to dip its toes into the world of subscriptions. Bird and Lime have been experimenting with subscriptions for their shared electric scooters with mixed results. And electric bikes are jumping on the subscription bandwagon, too, with Revel in New York City, Dance in Berlin, and Swapfiets and VanMoof as well.
Hyman said the initial six months of All-Access has proven to him that scooter subscriptions can work on a wider level. Still, there will be other metrics to keep an eye on. “We’re convinced internally, but some things you can only prove with time. Right?” he said. “Like, how long does the scooter last? What are all the service costs to keep that scooter running over its lifetime? What does consumer retention and churn rates look like? It’s a longitudinal exercise that some things can only prove with time. But we feel like the data points we have are pretty conclusive.”