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LimeBike, the dockless bike-share startup, wants to pay people to charge its scooters

The company is looking for people who will collect and charge its electric scooters.

Two people push Limebike scooters over the Dolores Park bridge in San Francisco. LimeBike

In the face of competition from scooter-sharing startups like Bird, dockless bike-share startup LimeBike unveiled its own fleet of e-scooters earlier this year. Now, the company is looking to pay people to charge that network of e-scooters.

The company employs a combination of independent contractors and employees to redistribute bikes so they’re readily available in more locations, a process known as rebalancing. With e-scooters, there’s the added complication of charging the vehicles.

So, LimeBike is asking people to apply to be a “Lime Juicer” to collect scooters with their own cars and charge them in their own homes or wherever there is an available electrical outlet.

The company said it’s too early to talk about the details of the program, but the site says people will be told where to pick up and drop off the e-scooters after charging them overnight. It’s unclear how much they’ll be paid or if the company expects to supplement this network of chargers with employees or their own fleets of vehicles.

Bike- and scooter-sharing can be a capital intensive industry. In addition to operating an efficient logistics network, there are the added costs of owning, operating and sometimes manufacturing these electric bikes and scooters as well as owning a fleet of vehicles that are driven to move the bikes around to meet demand. With its new electric scooter and bike offerings, LimeBike has to also find a cost-effective method to keep them charged.

Offloading some of those costs by bringing on contractors with their own vehicles and having them charge the scooters in their own homes could help the company do that, if the network is robust enough.

Figuring out how to support a network of e-scooters will be incredibly important as LimeBike faces fresh competition from well-funded players like Bird. The scooter-sharing company has taken off in Santa Monica where it launched in September 2017. Bird has now seen more than 500,000 rides and recently closed a $100 million round at about a $300 million pre-money valuation.

LimeBike recently closed a $70 million rounding, bringing its total funding to $132 million.

Unlike LimeBike, Bird is focusing solely on scooters, which could be an advantage for the Santa Monica-based company. However, with its own war chest of funding and presence in 46 markets in the U.S., LimeBike is well positioned to expand its existing suite of offerings with an e-scooter service.

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