“There is now a very long tail of operators,” Corbett says. “Half of those didn’t exist until the laws were changed.”
Corbett is a former start-up founder who is most comfortable in a baseball cap and hoodie. He ran Bird’s UK operations when it launched a scooter trial on private land in the Olympic Park in 2018, but joined VOI earlier this year.
Paul Hodgins, Ginger’s chief executive, cuts a very different figure. Softly spoken and fond of wearing suits, Hodgins is a Conservative councillor who has spent years lobbying for his home-grown scooter business.
Ginger hasn’t picked up backing from venture capital funds, as larger rivals such as VOI, Bird, Tier and Lime have done. Instead, the company received investment from Philippe von Stauffenberg, a German businessman whose great uncle Claus von Stauffenberg was the key member of the July 1944 plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler – and played by Tom Cruise in the 2008 film Valkyrie.
Hodgins dismisses the incidents in July as growing pains which have already been fixed. “This is the first pilot, so the spotlight is on it,” he says. “There will from time to time be people who use it irresponsibly.”
Hodgins says Ginger updated its app after the incidents to block riders from driving on the A19 and through shopping malls. The company has also added enhanced ID checks to stop children renting scooters.
Ginger is now in the middle of raising a new round of funding, Hodgins says, and the Middlesbrough trial will be extended later this month to surrounding areas.