Spinning a successful startup

21 November 2018 | Entrepreneurship
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Spin, an electric scooter sharing company that worked out of BLOCK71 San Francisco in its early days, was recently acquired by Ford Mobility Systems

San Francisco-based electric scooter rental firm Spin, the brainchild of Singaporeans and BLOCK71 San Francisco alumni Mr Derrick Ko, Mr Euwyn Poon and Mr Zaizhuang Cheng, was recently acquired by Ford Smart Mobility for a reported almost US$100 million.

Spin was founded in 2016 after Mr Poon was inspired by a similar dockless system he observed while in Beijing, where bicycles were parked on sidewalks and available for rent simply by scanning a QR code using one’s mobile phone.

Having previously attended many events at BLOCK71 San Francisco — an initiative managed by NUS Enterprise in partnership with Singtel Innov8 and SGInnovate — the trio knew that it would be the perfect choice for a young startup in its early fundraising days. It was a wise decision that proved to be crucial for their next stage of growth.

“Everyone at BLOCK71 was really welcoming; it quickly felt like a second home to us. It was very helpful to be part of a startup community and we received tons of great advice, networking opportunities and investor connections. We were also very thankful to have a private, comfortable ready-made office to work out of which allowed us to concentrate on our core business instead of being bogged down by administrative work, and which made all the late nights camping out at meeting rooms much more bearable!” said Mr Cheng.

In 2017, the company raised US$8 million in Series A funding.

Everyone at BLOCK71 was really welcoming; it quickly felt like a second home to us. It was very helpful to be part of a startup community and we received tons of great advice, networking opportunities and investor connections. 

Today, Spin offers an affordable, convenient and sustainable last mile transportation option to users across 14 cities and campuses throughout the US. Through an app, users can unlock and rent a scooter, picking it up and dropping it off anywhere within the service area.

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Spin's founders (from left) Mr Cheng, Mr Ko and Mr Poon 

Following the acquisition, Spin will continue to operate as a standalone business and is poised to expand aggressively, hoping to immediately scale up its team of engineers, designers, urban planners, policymakers, lawyers and operators.   

They will also continue to work closely with local city authorities in order to effectively integrate their dockless system with existing infrastructure, facilitate enforcement surrounding safety and parking matters, as well as provide a rich source of data to inform urban planning and sustainability initiatives. They believe that this long-term strategy of implementing micro-mobility solutions in a responsible manner is one of the reasons why Spin has managed to be so successful.

“Vehicle emissions is the single largest human contribution to global warming. As the United Nation’s recent report showed, now is the time to act. We are committed to doing our part to help stem the tide by offering sustainable transportation focused on being part of the long-term solution,” said the Spin founders.

The team is excited to now be part of Ford's mobility portfolio. Said Mr Cheng, “Personally, I'm happy that one of the biggest automobile companies in the world has placed its trust in us and I'm really looking forward to being part of the solution for the next big thing in mobility.”