Hey reddit:

I'm Andy, a Detroit native. I started what would be a terrible business but a great social project to give kids in Detroit free scooters.

I recently signed up as a charger for Bird scooters. You might know that when a scooter is super lost they increase the bounty paid out to charge that scooter up to $20. I went into the neighborhoods in Detroit to try and find some of these "high bounty" scooters and what I found kinda blew my mind.

I came into a big housing complex and found about 10 kids pushing around 4 dead Lime and Bird scooters. I got to talking to the kids and they were super friendly but didn't have much of an idea why someone dropped off these scooters in their neighborhood. Scooters that light up totally look like a toy, and so what is an eight year old to do?

The trouble is that kids and lots of adults in Detroit don't have the required drivers licenses, bank accounts or money on hand to take part in this "big cool future." It must really suck to be a Detroit kid in the summertime and see these cool looking scooters with the lights sitting out on the street corner but you're technically not allowed to touch them unless you have the means.

So I started Play Free Bird www.playfreebird.com where people can send us electric and manual scooters from Amazon and we'll assemble, charge and distribute them to Detroit kids who need them. It's a small project designed to make things better. If anyone is going to drop off scooters in an urban environment like Detroit they should be accessible to everyone.

I'm open to your feedback if you have any on our project - and we'd love the support if you have the time.

PS: We got a front page story in The Detroit Free Press about our project. You can read that here: https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/detroit/2018/09/18/bird-scooters-take-off-detroit-one-guy-wants-make-them-free/1333342002/?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=dlvr.it

Proof of identity here: https://imgur.com/a/SafN0Ps (Compare to picture in the Free Press)


Comments: 776 • Responses: 14  • Date: 

Oax_Mike562 karma

How will you turn a profit?

Insomnya3AM2044 karma

We won't! That's why it's a terrible startup. We're going to give everything away and get paid in high fives.

Oax_Mike543 karma

Ok. Just curious since you posed the project as a business.

So it's a charity.

Cool beans. Good luck and I hope you get lots of donors.

Insomnya3AM865 karma

It was what turned out to be a bad joke it looks like.

allenpa5310 karma

Any plans to teach the parents of the kids using the Bird and Lime scooters how to scout out the high-value lost scooters for the commission?

It seems that may be a decent way for them to self source scooters and other items by way of earned commissions. Plus, it would give them some quality parent/kid time while searching for the scooters together.

Insomnya3AM333 karma

I teach everyone I come across how to sign up for charging, how to harvest scooters and how to maximize value. The major challenge is that you can't get paid for charging unless you are over 18, have a drivers license and a bank account. That leaves out most of the people who actually really need the income!

Hubble-Gum110 karma

How many scooters do you have?

Insomnya3AM348 karma

We have 3 in the garage and about 12 on the way from Amazon. We just launched this project this morning. We also have about $1,500 to spend so far but I imagine that'll grow quite a bit as people check out the newspaper.

EDIT: We have a live ticker at playfreebird.com near the bottom. And by live I mean I do it by editing the page.

madcaplarks87 karma

Digging your sense of humour. I am just visiting the states and have noticed these scooters everywhere in LA. I've tripped over at least three so far

Insomnya3AM85 karma

There are almost as many here, which is weird to see a startup hit our rust belt city so hard. It's the cruel irony of the thing - that people who need 'em most can't access them.

DontOpenTilXmas18 karma

A day in the life of a Detroit hipster.

Insomnya3AM104 karma

My blood is cold brew and my meals are beard wax.

mcjagga26 karma

How much of your own money are you spending on this "project"?

Insomnya3AM40 karma

It's hard to put a dollar figure on it because I don't track it. It's mostly sweat equity at this point: driving around, talking to people, building the website, managing the data and donors, telling the story. We're using our HQ to receive the scooters and have a place to assemble them.

We'll be buying a few scooters to add to the giveaway fleet too.

IBiteMyThumbAtYou13 karma

What’s your day job?

BradLinden5 karma

He runs the Detroit Bus Company, a seemingly successful (non-profit?) company that's been around Detroit since 2011, helping to address in some part the city's disappointing lack of public transportation.

Insomnya3AM3 karma

Thanks for this. It's medium successful

AgentElman9 karma

What is the quality of scooters like - are there some that are not worth the money?

Insomnya3AM16 karma

All the ones we have on our Amazon Wish List are good scooters that will last. The ones getting donated range from brand new to needing a little love -- we'll work with volunteers to refresh and paint the ones that need fixing.

Reali5t6 karma

You must not have much experience with low income people? One thing I can tell you for certain is that low income people don’t value their possessions, especially possessions they didn’t have to pay for. I expect the kids to break the scooters just like they break everything else. Alternatively they will leave the scooter outside and it will be picked up by another kid who will ride until the battery dies and then it will be abandoned until a scrapper picks it up and sells it for scrap metal.

Insomnya3AM3 karma

I have a large amount of experience with lower income folks having grown up in and around Detroit. My opinion is that your view is incorrect, so we'll just have to disagree.

amousecaledmicky6 karma

Y'all need to stop shitting on this guy so hard.

It's not easy to donate your own time or hard earned money, let alone create and launch an idea, all with the intention of helping.

The guy has simple goals, just try to make the place a bit better and give joy to some kids. He's not trying to fix the economic crises or solve world hunger.

So he created a fun-to-him idea that he could follow through with, and he did. If you think it can be done better, then go do it better. I can't imagine how many ideas fail because of the constant struggle of trying to do the best thing. Let some kids enjoy the scootering!

Question- what was the hardest part of getting your idea to reality?

Insomnya3AM5 karma

I appreciate you!

Hardest part: managing the digital end (messages, posts, emails, media) while also still charging and deploying scooters all night so I keep learning about the environment they're in. I am averaging about 5 hours a night of sleep.

VettaBTertiary3 karma

This is great! I do a lot of fundraising and such and this sounds exactly like my kind of project! No earnings? Paid in high fives? Helping out people in need?

Awesome! No question just saying-keep up he good work!

Insomnya3AM6 karma

Thanks a ton for the feedback and love!

gunnie563 karma

Could see about getting sponsors and letting them put advertisements onthe scooters?

Insomnya3AM3 karma

Sponsors yes. Ads no.

kunderthunt3 karma

Have you considered partnering with the local library or public school system and figuring out a system that rewards good grades or summer reading with ride credits?

Insomnya3AM3 karma

This is a great idea that actually has come up a lot in recent conversation. Our initial goal started as a pretty simple and short-term one, but we are now looking at ways to sustain variations of the project long-term that would involve partnerships with groups and organizations in the city who are far better equipped than we are to help us figure out the how & who. Thank you for this feedback, it's very valuable!