Sweeping the Nation
A logistics company founded by a group of former Seaver College student-athletes offers a first-of-its kind service for the dockless scooter industry
If you live in any of the dozens of cities nationwide offering self-operated rented electric scooters, you’ve probably seen riders zipping by on brightly colored vehicles with bold labels like Bird or Lime emblazoned on their necks or driven past a collection of them parked along busy sidewalks.
Developed as a means to get city dwellers through the final leg of their journey, dockless scooters, which can be picked up and dropped off anywhere, have revolutionized the “last mile” transportation industry since 2017. Offered as a less costly alternative to Uber and Lyft, scooter rentals typically cost users an initial fee of one dollar, plus 15 to 20 cents per minute depending on the location of pickup.
Advocates of electric scooters tout their low cost and accessibility, as well as the ripple effect they have on reducing traffic congestion and public transportation usage. The scooters also invoke in millennials—the most frequent consumers of the trendy vehicles—the nostalgia of the early 2000s Razor scooter trend. Despite their growing popularity among users, however, many city residents across the US have opposed the adoption of electric scooters in their neighborhoods because of the careless manner in which they are scattered across sidewalks.
Walking along the streets of Santa Monica, California, Seaver college alumnus Richard “Rich” Branning (’12) was struck by the number of poorly maintained, abandoned electric scooters littering the local walkways. As a user himself, Branning brainstormed with his former college roommates John “Johnny” MacArthur (’13) and Corbin Moore (’12) about filling a void in the market by increasing safety for users, pedestrians, and other drivers.
Sweep, Inc., founded in July 2018 by the trio, was created to provide solutions for the high levels of scooter deterioration and attrition experienced across the industry. Described as a 24/7 company by Moore, Sweep team members start their day by dropping off anywhere from 100 to 500 fully charged and cleaned scooters at locations selected by each vendor between 4 and 7 AM. Throughout the day, the crew responds to individual maintenance and relocation requests. Nightly fleet collections and inventory checks are conducted by specialized staff who have the experience to properly ensure that each scooter is running as designed and ensure the proper handling of deployments and collections, as well as mechanical, hardware, and software repairs and updates.
“We didn’t really see an accountability layer or a logistics provider that could do a lot of the dirty work that’s necessary for the ‘last mile’ space to run efficiently and effectively,” Branning shares.
“We’re the ones that come in, organize and repair the scooters, and help educate people about our work,” Moore adds.
Despite being less than a year old, Sweep has already established teams in six cities across the nation and is planning on adding 50 more sites in 2019. MacArthur states that they are not limiting themselves to the US and are currently considering expanding to Europe, South America, and Australia.
From college roommates to business partners, the group credits Pepperdine and their experience as student-athletes for their strong work ethic and ability to adapt within an emerging and ever-shifting business.
“Most of our staff is composed of athletes, so we have many competition-focused team members who all want to compete in the scooter space, provide value, and win the day,” MacArthur shares. “We believe in the future of scooters. We believe that there is a space for them, and we believe that they create great value for communities.”
Photo: Sweep, Inc.