On the most southern point of Iceland lies a remote village called Vik. It has a population of 600 and a few residential streets branching out into the wilderness.
While this may not appear the most likely place to spot e-scooters, thanks to Hopp’s franchise model, a savvy entrepreneur has been able to launch his own fleet.
“I was just reading the newspaper one day online and saw that Hopp was looking for places to open franchises and I was like, ‘hell yeah, why not?’ This must be a money making machine, right?
Björn Þór Ólafsson is a store manager for a local outdoor clothing brand and had no previous experience in micromobility.
Zag Daily: How easy was it to set up your first e-scooter operation?
BO: “Last July I picked up 25 Hopp e-scooters from Reykjavik, scanned some QR codes and before you knew it, there were people riding around town on them and cash in the bank. Of course, I had to create a proper company and bank account, but anyone can do this. I’m running it with my wife as a side hustle, I don’t have any employees. It’s easy peasy.”
Zag Daily: What sort of reception did your e-scooters get in Vik?
BO: “Icelanders started using the e-scooters immediately. We had between two and four trips per scooter per day. I think it helped that the locals are familiar with Hopp e-scooters from Reykjavik and other cities in Iceland. When I positioned them near the campsites, I started seeing some great results in the app. But that’s mainly locals, of course. I’m still trying to figure out how to reach tourists. I haven’t done any marketing, so I don’t think everyone realises that they are for rent. I’m hoping to see some bigger numbers this summer when we start our first full season.”
Zag Daily: How does the weather affect the operation?
BO: “Vik is surrounded by mountains, we can see the glaciers but we’re right next to the ocean, a bit too close if you ask me, so there are constant rain storms. In the winter, we have snow for one week, rain for another and then a lot of sleet so we decided not to operate then. I am not going to start this season until I’m sure that it’s not going to snow again, so this will be around the end of April.”
Zag Daily: How do you decide where to place your e-scooters?
BO: “The Hopp app offers a hexagon map where you can see the hotspot areas, but this village is so small, it’s basically just one road. I put them near supermarkets, campsites and restaurants. There are six big restaurants and I park them outside the most popular ones and they are always taken. It’s very rare to see a scooter standing still for more than a day here, unless it’s been raining non-stop.
“I then have the back end software analytics where you can see every single detail of the operation. For example, by seeing the e-scooters location and power level, it takes me an hour to do a full round of swapping batteries, which I do once or twice a day usually after work.”
Zag Daily: Have you encountered any problems so far?
BO: “I got a notification once that two scooters were moved without someone actually activating them. I was in Reykjavik at the time and saw through the app that they were in a dumpster.
“Someone got pissed off that they were parked outside his house, so he just chucked them in his van, drove to the junkyard and left them there. But that’s the only negative thing that has happened so far and I got them back quite easily because of the accuracy of the GPS function. Hopefully nobody chucks them in the Atlantic Ocean.”
Zag Daily: Do you plan to leave your other job to concentrate on the operation full time this summer?
BO: “No, I can’t retire from my other job for this first full year. I was hoping to get my investment back within three or four months, but the problem is that even though locals are using it like crazy, it takes them less than two minutes to get from A to B in Vik so the profit comes in small amounts.
“I may play the numbers game by adding more e-scooters, and Hopp is also going to help me with a marketing strategy to encourage more tourists to use the service, so I’m excited to see how big I can grow this. If you ever swing by Vik, come give them a try!”