Local Moped Company Expands Following Rising Demand
(Editor’s Note: This Daily Iowan story highlights a former JPEC business plan competition winner, MopedU.)
With gas prices inching toward the $4 mark and buses becoming increasingly congested, student demand for alternative transportation has risen.
Tommy Le, co-owner of local moped sales and rental service MopedU, said University of Iowa transportation concerns have only increased.
“If you look at the university, every year the freshman class is the biggest freshman class that has ever been,” Le said. “I don’t think they’ve really accommodated that. There’s arms and legs hanging out [of Cambuses].”
Since opening three years ago, MopedU has seen an increase from approximately 10 sales a month to 25. As class sizes at the UI go up, population of Iowa City rises as a whole. Co-owner Bryan Ilg said the population growth and the stagnant amount of parking space in the city contributes to the need to mopeds.
“The more and more compact the city gets, parking is always going to be an issue,” he said.
To meet growing demand, co-owner Josh Bass said the company will open up a new location in an undisclosed southern state. Locally, they will expand their services and work to make them more efficient to reduce costs for their customers.
“We’re trying to provide the highest quality service at the least amount of cost to our customers,” Bass said. “We want to provide essentially Wal-Mart prices at Macy’s quality.”
According to the owners’ calculation, two-wheeled transportation has increased by 20 percent over the past nine years.
As part of their expansion they will increase their rental fleet from 50 to 60 or 70 scooters and hire new employees. Three will be hired at the Iowa City location and four new employees at the new store. Ilg said they hope to hire UI students to fill the new local positions.
“We were University of Iowa students, and we want to be able to give back a little bit,” he said.
Ilg said they hope to also hire a student intern interested in learning about the unique marketing concerns of a small business.
“We’re still a smaller business,” he said. “It’s a good way to kind of get their feet wet in that regard.”
Bass said this expansion will help them achieve their vision for MopedU—to provide fun and affordable transportation that can be used on any college campus.
Local resident Albert Roy, who bought a moped from MopedU in September 2012, said it has saved him a lot of money on gas. Roy frequently travels 340 miles from Iowa City to Eldon, Mo., for professional-wrestling training, and he was looking for a more cost-efficient way to do it.
“I was thinking, thinking, thinking, and it was like a huge light just went on over my head,” he said.
While he is not a student, Roy said he can see why MopedU services would appeal to college students on a tight budget.
“When you’re getting an excess, in my case, 80 miles per gallon, that opens up a lot more doors," he said.