Say it's a Monday morning on Grand River and you're headed to class. You could walk, splurge on an Uber or wait for a CATA bus to pick you up.
Or you could wave down a Skoop, a free pedicab service created by MSU advertising management sophomore Josh Cooper.
In February 2018, CEO and founder Cooper put his entrepreneurial skills to the test when he created Skoop Inc., a free pedicab service used as an advertising platform and mobile billboard for local and national brands.
“Yeah, we’re a pedicab company, but we just so happens to give rides," Cooper said. "We designed a digital billboard that’s also capable of carrying people ... all rides are 100 percent free."
As part of the pedicab services, Skoop Inc. places digital looping billboards on the streets and embeds them into the flow of traffic.
“We’re looking to demonetize transportation in a unique way and also cut those costs and take those dollars out of the traditional driving or ride sharing model,” co-owner of the company Aric Klar said.
The Skoop pedicabs are battery-powered with pedal assist motors. In East Lansing, there are three routes available: a resident route for students living in the dorms, a downtown route for shops, restaurants and off-campus residents and a class route to get people to and from classes.
“We can continue to roll out this model into areas that are adaptive to it,” Klar said. “College towns would be perfect because the college kid knows how often they’re outpouring cash to move from point A to point B and we’re looking to be that solution.”
Skoop Inc. said they are rapidly increasing their presence in East Lansing through promotional product distribution from local businesses. Brands have been providing complimentary water bottles and coupons. They've even rented out the fleet of pedicabs for shuttle services for private events.
“When I first moved to Michigan State my freshman year, I realized the campus was so spread out ... so I started getting inspired to research very low cost forms of transportation,” Cooper said. “I’ve always been somewhat of an entrepreneur ... and I love helping other businesses grow their business."
Skoop driver Eli Weil said one of the things he loves his job is often transporting individuals home from bars. Thanks to a night shift that runs until 2 a.m., it aims to help prevent drunk driving and ensure people get home safely.
“There’s literally no catch ... I’m just offering a free service that makes people's day and adds fun into their day,” Weil said.
It's the "best time ever," he said. "For outgoing individuals and for people that love meeting new people and helping people's day be a little bit better, it’s an amazing job."