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Lime Scooters the most disruptive business to hit NZ yet?

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The arrival of Lime Scooters in New Zealand has been welcomed by some, appalled others and left politicians scratching their heads over how they can take back control of our streets, but when it comes to disruptive business models, Lime Scooters is unquestionably leaving the likes of Uber and Airbnb eating dust.

Director and co-founder of Auckland based NexGen Group, Niran Iswar, says that while Lime Scooters has attracted controversial headlines and alarmed regulators, the company’s biggest impact as a disruptive business model has all but been ignored.

"Just when we thought companies and technologies like Uber, Space X and crypto currencies were at the cutting edge of disruption, a sharing-system business model takes the humble scooter and turns it into a cultural phenomenon," says Iswar. "It’s no wonder that Uber and Google are investing so heavily in this business model.

"Lime Scooters and others in the dockless scooter sharing space show us that you don’t have to re-invent the wheel to be innovative. Kiwi entrepreneurs would be well advised to be applying our minds to why Lime Scooters are working so well and what we can learn from it."

Need, user experience and the Internet of things

Iswar says Lime Scooters tick a number of boxes in the disruptive innovation space but, importantly, they’re solving a problem with a convenient, low cost transport option in a city where public transport isn’t the best.

"Rental scooters offer a great user experience because riding a scooter is fun, unlike the Onzo bikes which require some physical effort. Together with a user experience you have innovative technology, including the scanners, electric motors and lithium batteries. Add to that the Internet of things, accessed via a mobile phone app, and you have a heady mixture.

"They’ve also engaged the gig economy in the form of juicers who collect, re-charge and co-ordinate the scooters using their own fuel, time and electricity for what is a small fee, but the numbers make it work for both Lime and the juicers seem happy."

Business basics done well

Iswar says that scooter rental companies like Lime haven’t neglected the elements of best business practise.

"They make a once-off purchase of an asset - scooters are low cost in themselves and even more so when bought in bulk - and they sell its utility multiple times. Wear and tear damage is negligible because the asset itself is cheap.

"Lime’s ‘ask forgiveness later’ approach to rolling out its scooter hire services in cities around the world has largely minimised regulatory delays and won them a staggering amount of publicity - essentially they’ve put the decision in the public’s hands, and when you do that it’s very hard for regulators to spoil the party," says Iswar.

Lime’s ‘act first ask forgiveness later’ policy comes with fishhooks.

"It is risky and I’m not advocating that you try it because it can be costly," says Iswar. "Scooter companies have been sued, fined and shut down - if only temporarily - in some parts of the world.

"It takes some real appetite for risk and a lot of money to get right but, as we can see, there are sometimes big advantages in speed of deployment."

Lessons from Lime Scooters

Innovation doesn’t have to be inventive. Take the humble scooter, add technology, a great user experience, the Internet of things and then leave the gig economy to make it work is proof of that.

"It’s not cheap, but it is fun," says Iswar. "And that I believe is what really makes this work for them."

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