Navigating through congested streets can be stressful, and pollution caused by cars can be detrimental to the environment. Devising a way around the traffic and pollution issue is Loop, a Beirut-based scooter sharing service.
The idea was born when a link between Telematics technology and fleet management merged. The team behind Loop explored the positive impacts of deploying electric vehicles in traffic-congested cities. Today, Loop powers the rides of busy individuals, who commute in Beirut, helping them skip the traffic.
The bright orange scooters are seen buzzing across different parts of Beirut, giving transportation a fun, affordable and eco-friendly edge. Commuters just need to sign up to the Loop App, take part in an orientation session, book the nearest scooter through the App, login to the App – then unlock their ride, with a 4 digit PIN.
BDD sat with Mira Raham (MR), General Manager of Loop, to discuss scooter sharing, consumer trends, innovation and safety.
BDD: How did the idea for Loop come about?
MR: Loop started with an electric scooter sharing model, after witnessing first-hand, how easy scooters were to maneuver in congested streets. With electric scooters, commuters, delivery personnel and even tourists could get around easier, despite the standstill traffic.
And so, the Loop scooter sharing service was born, allowing people to move around the city on electric scooters. They could be short trips for various reasons, such as going to meetings, commuting to work, going to university, meeting friends for lunch etc. The main aim is to avoid congestion caused by traffic and reach their destination on time.
BDD: Has the business gained traction? What are the challenges you face?
MR: Anyone who is a keen observer of consumer trends will immediately recognize the growing tendency of the consumer to go for access rather than ownership. Consumers are forgoing the security of owning products and the status symbols that come with them, for the flexibility that on-demand services allow them to have.
This is true for the transportation industry as well with a plus provided by Loop, the ecofriendly aspect that comes with the service. With the growing number of cars in major cities and all the negative side effects that exist as a result, the average commuter is actively looking for solutions that will get him from point A to point B in the most efficient and affordable manner possible. This is what Loop aims to provide, hence applying the green city model. With a diverse team of engineers, project managers and marketing professionals and the technology to make that vision a reality, Loop is catering to an essential need every busy urbanite has, which is mobility where he or she needs it, when he or she needs it.
Since we launched, the service picked up quickly and demand is constantly increasing.
However, access to funding has been the biggest obstacle in scaling the business.
BDD: Do you actively work to raise awareness on safety?
MR: Safety is one key component of Loop, and we always cater to raise awareness on the topic and remind our commuters of the need to address the safety issues.
During the orientation session offered to each user, we provide all the guidelines to make sure those measures are abided by. We do offer a helmet that is compulsory to wear during the trips and penalties are charged for not wearing it.
We also provide each user with a manual that covers road hazards and driving guidelines. All of Loop users are constantly reminded through different ways of the safety guidelines.
BDD: What are your global expansion plans?
MR: Loop is currently expanding in Lebanon by adding 60 new units to its fleet and increasing the number of stations to spread over the different areas of Beirut. We plan to have a total of 100 scooters by end of 2019.
Our plans expand beyond Lebanon to the region as we are eyeing some neighboring countries where Loop service is needed.
BDD: What innovative features in the business model can you share?
Loop constantly strives to enhance its service and this spreads across several areas. We do have a new versions of the scooter that is completely keyless and that has additional sensors that address safety. Other parts of the scooter have also been uplifted.
The main components of the service, the software and the App have also been enhanced with new features and functionalities for the operators and the users.