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Scoot Bizz History: Chapter 2

Scoot Bizz History: Chapter 2

* Scoot Trade enlisted "Scoot Historian" Sinan Al Faour to bring us back to the birth of the scoot industry and its first steps (4 chapters).

By Sinan Al Faour:
(see Profile in Scoot Culture Section)
Translated from French by ChatGPT 3.5


Chapter 2: The Creation of Micro Mobility Systems (MMS)

In the 1990s, Wim Ouboter, a 36-year-old Swiss engineer, worked for a large bank in Zurich. He had marketing training in Boston and often traveled to the United States because his father owned a business there. Like Sieghart Straka, he also developed a scooter to reach his favorite sausage vendor, which was too far to walk but too close to drive. Wim was familiar with this mode of transportation since childhood because one of his sisters had one leg shorter than the other. So, he had the idea to attach two roller wheels and a sliding handlebar to a brushed aluminum board. It was both lightweight, and the deck could rotate around the handlebar, making it very easy to use. When he went to his sausage vendor, people laughed at him because he looked like he was using a toy. He then found a way to make his scooter foldable for easy storage after his journey. This idea would revolutionize the scooter. However, his friends advised him not to enter this business, so he left the scooter to gather dust in his garage.

Micro's Win

Years passed, and one day in 1996, neighborhood children played with the prototype. When Mrs. Ouboter saw them playing, she thought it was a good idea to market the scooters. They co-founded the company Micro Mobility System (MMS) and quickly got in touch with Sieghart Straka. They initially decided to collaborate, but they separated at the end of 1997 because the inventor of Ciro wanted to develop an urban mode of transportation, while Micro’s inventor was trying to develop a sportier model. Outboter eventually acquired a manufacturing license for Ciro from Straka. In the spring of 1998, Swiss Wim Outboter conducted a market study on action sports enthusiasts and proposed the idea of Ciro to K2, a giant American sports equipment company based in Los Angeles. He eventually won an award from the Stuttgart Design Center. K2 initially distributed the three-wheeled scooter in Japan and Europe, and later in the United States. Parallel to this success, he realized that the market could accommodate a lighter and more maneuverable model, inspired by his 1996 prototype, the Micro Skate Scooter.

To produce these scooters, Wim traveled to China to J.D. Corp factories, a bicycle parts manufacturer established in 1987 by Gino Tsai and his wife. J.D. Corp was already responsible for producing K2 scooters. MMS had signed a contract stipulating that J.D. Corp could potentially sell scooters identical to Micro’s but exclusively in Asia and outside the Japanese market. However, Gino Tsai would later claim that he was the inventor of the foldable scooter in the Taipei Times. He even violated the contract at the end of 1999 by exporting his scooters to Europe under the name JD bug.

SBH #3 SBH #1

** Unfortunately, we haven't been able to reach Mr. Ouboter or the Tsai's family directly, this article is based on public information from interviews and articles. We'd for sure love to learn more from them!

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