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Architects of the Future: Taiwan's Startup Stories

SKRT Streamlines Taiwan’s Scooter Rental Services

2020/02/12 , Interview
Evan Vitkovski
Photo credit: The News Lens
Evan Vitkovski
Evan is a writer, editor, storyteller, traveler, and organizer in the arts scene in Taipei. Besides writing, sharing music and promoting events in Taipei as a radio host, networking with other creatives at concerts and festivals, and spending time reflecting in the mountains or at the beach take up most of the time between planning the next trip.
What you need to know

With over 14 million registered scooters in Taiwan, new players like SKRT have emerged to digitalize scooter rentals and create easier access for foreign tourists.

It’s impossible to imagine Taiwan without scooters weaving through traffic everywhere. Scooter rental services from Taiwan-based startup Gogoro and similar apps like iRent and Wemo have been relatively successful so far.

SKRT is among the latest to have emerged in the scooter rental business, streamlining the process of renting a scooter by going fully digital. The startup also gives scooter owners a share of the profit for monetizing their vehicles.

“We’re the AirBnB for motorcycles in Taiwan. If you’re looking for a scooter or motorcycle to rent, you can find it on the platform. And if you’d like to make some extra cash, you can share your idle scooter on SKRT,” said Elliot Ricardo, the co-founder of SKRT.

The idea for SKRT was first conceived several years ago when Ricardo was traveling around Southeast Asia using rented scooters from shop owners to get around.

“The scooter shop owners asked to keep my passport for the rental, and I thought, ‘Is this the standard operating procedure? People just leaving their passports and a wad of cash?’” Ricardo said. “I thought software could really help make the rental process more convenient and transparent.”

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Photo Credit: AP/ TPG Images
It’s impossible to imagine Taiwan without scooters weaving through traffic everywhere. The rental market has seen relative success.

With over 14 million registered scooters, Taiwan is the perfect place for Ricardo’s business idea. “This is a scooter Mecca. It’s a culture deeply ingrained in society,” he said.

User-generated income

SKRT aims to add an affordable and agile line of transportation to Taiwan and is keen on empowering people to generate money more independently than a traditional nine-to-five job. Partnering with scooter shops that have a fleet of vehicles is also a boon for both parties. Scooter owners who wish to rent their vehicles out can also generate extra income with a resellable asset, according to SKRT.

“We started in Taipei, and we’ve centered our service around MRT stations. If you don’t want to meet the customer in person, you can pin the exact location of the scooter using GPS, and you can leave your keys inside of a combination code lockbox on the scooter,” Ricardo explained.

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Photo Credit:Reuters/ TPG Images
Scooters a popular way of exploring the island's many harder to reach areas. There are 67.6 scooters for every 100 people in Taiwan, according to 2013 statistics from the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS).

For users who are looking to rent a scooter through SKRT, the platform would take care of the passport and driver’s license verification process. Customers would not have to hand over identification or a deposit to a rental store. The website is also bilingual, allowing English-speaking tourists to take advantage of the service, given they own an international driving license.

In 2020, SKRT is aiming to expand to other cities in Taiwan, especially places where scooters are necessary to get around, such as Hualien and Tainan.

“Taiwan is bursting with a lush green landscape, mountains, hot springs, hiking trails, waterfalls, beaches, you name it! You really need a scooter to get into the nooks and crannies where the good stuff is,” Ricardo said.

With easier access to scooter rentals, SKRT is hoping to make Taiwan more appealing for both domestic and international tourists.

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TNL Editor: Daphne K. Lee and Jeremy Van der Haegen (@thenewslensintl)

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Innovation didn't seem like Taiwan's strong suit as the tech industry largely remained conservative and stagnant since the 2000s. However, a new breed of entrepreneurs in Taiwan is changing the startup landscape with fresh ideas and ambitious vision. In our brand new series, we'll bring you bi-weekly stories about these startup founders and how they started their businesses in Taiwan.

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