U of T alumni establishes startup to bring electric scooters to Canada

Swagtron scooter

A business graduate from the University of Toronto Scarborough came up a start-up to introduce electric scooters for the Canadian market.

“I want to provide a reasonable product to the market that people actually need and can use in a safe way,” says Richard Cao, the mastermind behind the said company called Roll Technologies Inc (Roll).

He revealed that the idea of bringing scooters to Canada also came from his father’s manufacturing ties with many American scooter companies.

With a team of six, Roll now has an official website and apps for Android and iOS. It will deploy a fleet of 200 electric scooters and 50 electric bikes in Kelowna, B.C. in September after reaching a deal with the local government.

“E-scooters are a popular and effective form of shared mobility — and one that provides a green solution to a common, urban transportation problem,” says Cao.

However, while many scooter programs popped up in the United States in 2017, they have resulted in numerous injuries and deaths due to factors in safety practices and scooter designs.

A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that around 20 out of 100,000 users injured themselves during a trip using scooters. Around half of those wounded riders also suffered from head injuries. On top of that, one-third of users hurt themselves on their first ride.

To prevent harm caused by design flaws and insufficient safety practices, Roll uses wider and heavier scooters with larger wheels to ensure a higher level of stability and better performance on uneven pavement. The yellow-themed platform also employs a mandatory helmet policy and has plans to launch a free helmet program. Furthermore, Roll limits the speed for newcomers to reduce chances of getting into accidents.

As to environmental sustainability, Cao says the team will focus more on repairing its fleet rather than replacing them.

“It doesn’t cost you too much to do these features, it only costs a little bit of thinking and education, but the reason those companies are not doing it is because they seem like they don’t care,” Cao says.

“They’re expanding the market and that’s the only thing that matters to them, but we want to do it differently, we actually care about safety.”

Source: University of Toronto