How We Came To Build A Mobility Search/Discovery Engine

How We Came To Build A Mobility Search/Discovery Engine

After months of development, we’re thrilled to announce Have A Go’s micromobility discovery engine!!

Here’s the story of how it all came about.

A MICRO HISTORY

We started Have A Go early last year…before dockless scooter sharing blew up.

It all started with a design challenge: getting rid of cars in large, sprawling, car-centric Los Angeles without relying on unproven new technology or massive new infrastructure spending with the aim of showing that if it can be done in LA, it could be done anywhere.

Why cars? To eliminate traffic, pollution, emissions, car crash deaths, and the myriad of other evils that the single occupancy transportation has thrust upon cities and people.

The solution turned out to be mind-numbingly simple: utilizing lightweight electric vehicles for 1-5 mile trips and freeway buses for 5-60+ miles.

This solution turned out to be extremely cost effective, incredibly green, and most importantly much FASTER than our current gridlock based system. You can read our founder’s original Medium post here.

With the potential to solve mobility is Los Angeles, we realized how powerful these new electric bikes, e-scooters, e-boards, and a whole host of new electric wheels seemed to be!

But there was a problem: adoption of these vehicles was extremely slow, at least in terms of affecting real change in urban mobility. These vehicle category didn’t even have a name!

Have A Go 1.0

We built the first version of Have A Go last year. Our goal was getting users from zero to road ready as quickly as possible.

So to help users find the perfect ride for their needs, we reviewed the hundreds of electric wheels floating around on the internet, separating the wheat from the chaff, separating the speculative crowdfunding projects requiring month of waiting (at best) or cheap foreign knockoffs from quality, road-worthy, ready-to-ship products offered by established, reputable companies.

We then created a best-of site where users could come and easily find the best set of electric wheels per category.

This was a great experiment and we learned a lot by watching users interact with the site.

Two key things we learned:

  • Our best-of strategy didn’t cater to users’ love of the research/exploration process of something new.
  • Our site didn’t cater to the insane variability of use cases for micromobility: from teens wanting an off-road thrill to parents needing a vehicle for with cargo for grocery shopping to the elderly looking for a vehicle that allowed them freedom, helped them stay active, even with aging joints.

THE DOCKLESS SCOOTER/BIKE CRAZE

Then, in a matter of months, Bird and Lime took off (with each company valued at several billion dollars to date)!! There was clearly enormous pent up demand for these lightweight electric vehicles and adoption was off the charts.

Simultaneously, our hypothesis about micromobility being an extremely powerful game-changer for mobility turned out to be dead-on!

So the question for us became, was the ownership model obsolete?

It became clear that not only was it not obsolete, but that the dockless model had done a great deal to cause a big spike in sales. Amazon and electric micromobiliby manufacturers started seeing sales jump and we started seeing “Sold Out” everyone online.

After a bit of analysis, we wrote a long piece about how and why the dockless model was actually the best thing to happen to the ownership model.

The reasons, in brief – as users continue using micromobility:

  • Regular renters of scooters/bikes will start doing the math, realizing ownership was more economically viable over the long run
  • User needs (jobs to be done) will continue growing and the one-size-fits all form factor of rental scooters/bikes will not suffice
  • User sophistication will develop that will notbe satisfied by dockless’s one-size-fits-all
  • User base/demographics will continue expanding requiring more stable and protected form factors

HAVE A GO 2.0

Having learned from our 1.0 version and seeing the incredible need for a product offering that helps folks find the perfect electric ride, we begun working on our 2.0 version.

Taking into account the two key insights, the fun of exploration/research and the countless use cases, we settled on a search engine model.

We researched hundreds of products, scraped pictures and specifications like range, weight, foldability, cargo capacity, weatherization, and over a dozen features/functions and normalized the data.

After that, we built filters and made these products easily searchable, creating the first micromobility search/discovery engine!

So Have A Go is a collection of over 100 products (which will continue to grow) with categories and filters that help users narrow down the options that would best fit their needs.

A MOBILITY SEARCH/DISCOVERY ENGINE

If micromobility is to be given a real shot at disrupting and massively improving our ancient car-centric transportation model, cities need to catch up on building the appropriate infrastructure.

These change will not happen overnight.

Yet we think that as micromobility becomes an ever-increasing part of urban mobility, our simple tool might become a powerful mobility discovery engine for anyone looking to free themselves from the financial, emotional, and destructive burdens of the automobile and actually have fun moving about in their cities.

We have many more ideas about helping the world transition from car to micromobility and are looking forward to sharing even more of our ideas with the world!

Our next post will be about suggestions on how users can use this new mobility search engine.

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