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Springfield, MO

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A Conversation With ... Marquez Williams

Co-owner, Eway LLC

Posted online

Tell me about Eway and where the idea came from to start the company in 2021.
We went to Tulsa, and we rode some scooters. It just happened to be such a great time, we were like, hey, we’ve got to bring this to Springfield. For probably four or five months, we started doing research on different scooter companies. We linked up with a company called Volt Mobility. We purchased some scooters from them and did a private fleet for about a year and a half. That was going really well. We got approached by Missouri State [University] and the city of Springfield to do a public fleet. We did a (request for proposal) for Missouri State with Volt, and Bird ended up getting the contract. We were working with (MSU) hand in hand for a while so we kind of thought we were going to get it, but things didn’t go in our favor. They told us that if we get out here and do our public fleet and everything goes well over the next two years, in 2025 when they do their rebid, then we have the opportunity to gain access to their customers. We ended up parting ways with Volt. We got a new provider for the scooters, and now we’re 100% owned locally. When we went to the public fleet [on July 28], we had a few people say that they didn’t know we rented scooters because the name didn’t say anything about scooters. That caught, so now it’s Ride Eway.

Can the scooters be used throughout downtown?
All of downtown is a green area. And as of (Aug. 28), we’re going to be expanding. We’re going to be pushing out to Kansas and Glenstone and Kearney and up to Battlefield.

How does it work to rent a scooter and what’s the cost?
You download the app, it’s Ride Eway. You can scan (the scooter) and it’ll take you to the app, whether you have Android or iOS. You put your information in: name, phone number and then payment information. Then you just scan it and go. Let’s say you’re walking and you want to make sure there’s a scooter that’s going to be at the area closest to you, you can make a reservation for that scooter so it’s off the market for anybody else to rent. It’s $1 to unlock and 32 cents a minute. It turns out to be about $20.20 an hour.

How did you set up the app?
We partnered with a company called Joyride – they’re based in Canada. They handle all the back-end stuff with the app, and we handle everything physical. (Co-owner Trayvon Northern) created the website. Before we went public, it was just him and myself. He was doing the computer side, I was like doing the maintenance side. Now, we just do everything together.

How are you funding Eway?
We have been fortunate enough to be able to work jobs and have other opportunities presented to us in the past to where we had a surplus of some money. We ended up purchasing scooters the first time. This time we took out a small loan to maximize our fleet. Before, we only had about 13 [scooters] and we just bought 20 more.

What have been the biggest challenges and lessons learned in starting the business?
Don’t count your eggs before they hatch. Honestly, getting registered to do a public fleet with the city was kind of the biggest hurdle. You had to have such a large insurance policy and then you had to have the council approve everything. Being a small business, being able to get the insurance policy that they were requesting was a little out of reach. We found a way to make it work. Going back to what I said of don’t count your eggs before they hatch, we were expecting to be on Missouri State campus. We were approached by them. We kind of got our hopes up to do all that with them and then it kind of got shattered and knocked us back down a little bit. But it didn’t stop us from doing what we had to do. We pushed forward.

You’re one month into the public fleet. Are the ride counts meeting your expectations?
We’re actually exceeding our expectations. We needed about 440 rides in a 30-day period. Right now, we’re sitting at like 560 (in) 30 days.

Do you have plans for future growth?
Our goal is about 100 scooters. I would say probably about 50 in Springfield and then 20 in a couple other cities. We want to get to be a big-name company like Bird, Lime and Spin. We want to have employees and be a part of different communities and changing lives and making transportation easier. We’ve talked to Republic, Ozark, Nixa and Joplin and then a couple other places out of state. I think Joplin might be before Nixa and Ozark. Springfield is kind of an ideal market. We are looking for cities that have anywhere between 150,000 residents to 300,000 residents. We believe that’d be easier on the scooters as far as rides because they’re not getting pounded all day long. The scooter life expectancy, on a big scale, is only about two months. That’s why a lot of the bigger companies have lost a lot of money. They’re just kind of throwing scooters out there and they’re getting broken and they’re going to places where there’s millions of people. One of our biggest goals is to go to the cities that don’t have scooters and then try to work out a deal with the city council to be able to only allow our fleet there, which will lock in our revenue and our customer base.

How much do these scooters cost?
The ones we had we got a really good deal for because they were trying to get rid of inventory. With shipping, it was $475. The other ones that we have, ES400s, were $960 apiece. And then we have some sit-down ones that were $1,400 apiece. We probably spent between $30,000 and $40,000 on scooters and other miscellaneous stuff.

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