Today ‘carbon negative’ startup SKOOT, has raised over €1.7 million in funding to join the ride-sharing trend, with a twist. The startup aims to use the funds to boost its mission to become an alternative to public transport, connecting friends who drive, with friends who need a lift.
As a result of changing transport habits, the UK startup is on a mission to build a global social network to fulfil friends’ mobility needs, enabling them to travel together in a safe, carbon-negative way, at the touch of a button.
Founded in August 2019, SKOOT is the brainchild of entrepreneur Greg Gormley (Founder of loyalty app Bink), who built the app to make the lift-sharing experience easier, safer and more affordable than ever before. The idea came about after Gormley’s daughter didn’t come home one night. Upon asking where she was, a conversation followed revealing that she was offering lifts to friends from one party to another, via Snapchat. This meant she was potentially driving without insurance which is illegal, so he spent some time looking into current habits and the idea of SKOOT was formed.
The app has been designed to tackle the societal mobility crises facing the country; rising cost of motoring, disappearing bus routes and now COVID-related issues of public transport and has launched its free app on iOS and Android (pre-order) this week.
The first and only carbon negative lift-sharing app, SKOOT plants a tree every three rides taken. It cleverly links friends and maps the best travel route, enables auto collection of payment for petrol and running costs (so there’s no awkward WhatsApp message chasing for that fiver or promised Nandos that never appears), and then carbon offsets the whole journey. When a driver registers their car on the app, a check is completed with the DVLA to ensure the car is roadworthy, along with scanning in to check they have a valid driving licence, and identify the CO2 rating of the vehicle. This allows SKOOT to calculate the exact CO2 created every month and pay for the offset to the tune of 110% with each passenger contributing 5p (around 6 cents) per trip.
Greg Gormley, CEO of SKOOT commented: “It’s never been more expensive to run a car – nor harder to get around, with the reduction in public transport routes, people not wanting to travel on buses, trains and tubes or even use ride-hailing apps due to COVID. SKOOT provides a simple lift-sharing solution to help solve these issues, without any need for the driver to have specialist car insurance or the rider to be concerned with whom they are being picked up by. We seamlessly connect friends who drive with friends looking for lifts and take away the awkwardness of those conversations by automating pricing, collecting monies in app and enabling route planning, making it much simpler and fairer for everyone all in real-time, whilst being much cheaper than any alternatives”.
The founding team alongside Gormley includes; Mark Stringer, Co-founder and CMO (Founder of communications agency PrettyGreen), Alex Browne, CTO (ex-Bink Chief Architect) and Ashish Devi-King (Founder of specialist auto-tech M&A and capital raising firm Ridgeback Partners).
SKOOT ensures safety by checking each driver’s car, ensuring they have valid Tax and MOT via the DVLA, plus ensuring drivers scan their driving licence onto the app, which is checked through its back end platform and ensures drivers don’t fall foul of “money for miles” laws, which can cause their car insurance to be null and void, potentially carrying a £2,500 (around €2770) fine if too much money is paid for a single journey.
Gormley continued: “The idea and our concept resonated so well we were fortunate to be oversubscribed at our last fundraise, which was completed prior to lockdown. We, along with our investors, truly believe that the opportunity and timing is right to really make a difference to mobility across the Globe”
Research undertaken by the startup revealed that 77% of friends requested lifts from their network of friends, with 85% of those asking for lifts at least twice per week – meaning a minimum of 8-10 times per month. And this is before SKOOT existed.
Mark Stringer, CMO and co-founder of SKOOT added: “We’ve founded SKOOT to not only help solve a huge societal issue around mobility, but to do it in a way that feels more equal for everyone involved. There are too many phenomenally successful businesses where their success is at the expense of either the customer, the employees and/or the environment.
We want to ensure that riders, drivers and anyone who has an association with SKOOT all enjoy win-win travel, which includes planting a tree, on average, after every 3 journeys to be the first and only lift-sharing app to be actually carbon negative meaning the more journeys undertaken with SKOOT the better it is for the planet. This negative offset even includes staff members’ carbon footprint, with one of their benefits paying for their families offset, meaning the whole business is totally carbon negative from its inception – and always will be.”
The startup has grown rapidly, and now employs 12 full time staff, and following a UK launch, plans to expand across Europe, North America, Canada and Australia.