Flamingo's youthful founders have revealed their Auckland expansion plans, after out-lasting multinational rival Lime in the city's e-scooter trials.
They're bullish. But, Flamingo's new e-scooters are still several weeks away. And the three newcomers named yesterday have yet to put any wheels on the city's streets. One of them, Beam says it won't hit its full complement of 880 until the end of January.
So riders are in for a quiet couple of months. Or, at least. at least going back to a lot of walking as the city's total fleet temporarily drops from 1875 to 525, even if a bump to 3200 is on the way eventually.
On Friday, Auckland Council announced the four operators for a six-month licensing period, that begins from today.
Lime and the tiny Wave were kicked out. Flamingo was kept on, and is being joined by newcomers Jump by Uber, and two Singapore-owned outfits, Neuron and Beam.
And although acknowledging ongoing safety and infrastructure issues, and the ongoing legal fuzziness over where e-scooters can be ridden and how, the council jacked up the total number of rideshare e-scooters allowed on Auckland streets from 1875 to 3200.
The council has yet to detail each operator's allocation of scooters within that 3200 limit (a spokeswoman said numbers, and suburb-by-suburb allocations, and other details, would be confirmed by the end of the week).
But Flamingo co-founders Jacksen Love and Nick Hyland (both 22) say they will increase their Auckland scooter fleet from a total 525 to 630 (their limit over the next six months) over the coming weeks. In the "tier 1" area (the CBD and inner-city suburbs, its wheels will increase from 200 to 330.
"Weeks" is the operative word.
The Flamingo founders were loath to put in an order for new scooters until they were sure they had secured spot in the new licensing period. Now they're waiting for a delivery.
And Beam public affairs manager Brad Kitschke confirms his company is in the same boat.
"We hope to have our first vehicles on the ground in the next few weeks. We will continue to ramp up our fleet over the holiday season and our plan is to have the full allotment on the ground by the end of January," he says.
Neuron and Jump by Uber did not immediately respond to questions, but all are likely in the same boat - meaning we are likely in for a couple of quiet months in Auckland, with only Flamingo's existing fleet available.
Love and Hyland founded Flamingo in Wellington in 2017 with friends and family money, and have yet to take on any "name" outside investors.
And although they won't reveal any financials, the business appears to be self-sustaining.
"Flamingo is hitting its targets and isn't looking for any more investment at this stage," a spokeswoman said this afternoon.
In March, Flamingo and Jump by Uber were named as the two successful applicants for Wellington's 18-month e-scooter trial. Today, Flamingo has 400 scooters in the capital. It also picked up Christchurch (where it has 300 scooters) along with Auckland.
Love - who took an accounting job straight out of varsity - was the numbers man, while web developer Hyland created Flamingo's app, which is used to wrangle off-the-shelf Segway Ninebot scooters.
The pair quickly hired 20 staff, making their operation about a third the size of Lime's NZ business, plus around 230 "feeders" (Flamingo's version of Lime's "juicers" or retreive-and-recharge casual contractors).
Lime did not show any love, however, with the US giant's government relations manager Mitchell Price instead saying it was "risky" for any council to choose a smaller operator like Flamingo.
Love and Hyland took the high road at the time, responding only that they were pleased that three councils had found their safety standards up to snuff.
The pair also added a unique feature: "licence plates" that gave each Flamingo scooter an obvious identifier, which they hoped would dissuade riders from monkeying around.
They also introduced a voluntary speed limit, a remote-control feature, and an auto-alert if a rider spilled, among other features - and they stayed out of the news while Lime accident after accident hit headlines and the ACC bill topped a staggering $4.3 million.
Beam and Neuron - which both have a wowserish speed limit of 15km/h (to Lime's 27km/h) also made safety-first proposals.
On Friday, their approach was rewarded, with Auckland Council saying the four successful applicants all had better "safety profiles" than the excluded Lime and Wave.
Meanwhile, Lime has vowed to attempt an Auckland comeback once the current six-month licensing period expires.