Stephanie Marquez / Rivard Report
Blue Duck Scooters has taken the first steps toward raising $30 million as it aims to pick up the pieces after missing a deadline to keep operating in San Antonio.
The locally based scooter-share company filed an equity offering with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission this week, a few weeks after raising $4.2 million from Tampa-based private investment firm Skyway Capital Markets.
According to the filing, Skyway Capital Markets would receive compensation in connection with the sale of equity or debt as part of the deal. Blue Duck, citing SEC rules which prevent companies from discussing an ongoing sale of securities, declined to comment.
The Series A round of financing would help the company replenish its management-level talent and hire operations teams in new markets. The company also plans to invest in insurance and risk management, human resources, legal services, and purchase more scooters. It is planning for an operational budget of $3 million, according to documents obtained by the Rivard Report.
The company announced last month an agreement with the City of Bryan, which borders College Station and the Texas A&M University campus. It has launched about 200 scooters in that city but it does not have authority to operate in the City of College Station, where A&M is based.
Blue Duck won a contract with the City of Edinburg, home of The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, and became the first scooter-share operator in the valley. That city is starting a pilot program to test regulations for the scooter-share industry.
Blue Duck also is looking to revive attempts to launch in other Texas cities, such as El Paso.
As part of its reboot, Blue Duck has begun to reassemble its leadership with hires including Chief Innovation Officer Andre Champagne, Chief Financial Officer Larry Rosolowski, and Human Resources Director Adrienne Beck. The recent funding haul likely will fuel more hires to add the current staff of about 20.
On July 22, Blue Duck missed a deadline by one minute for its chance to become one of three exclusive scooter operators in the City of San Antonio. Following the misstep, during which then-CEO Eric Bell blamed Vice President of Communications Elizabeth Lyons Houston and Government Relations Manager Akeem Brown for the company missing the cut, Lyons Houston and Brown resigned. Bell, who remains part of the leadership team, has since ceded the top executive role to former Chief Business Officer Michael Keane.
Any Blue Duck hiring surge won’t include software developers, as the company switched from in-house engineering to outsourcing its tech needs. The contractor Joyride now architects Blue Duck’s software.
In formal documents, the company is now branding itself as a fleet management company, a departure from previous proclamations that Blue Duck was a mobility-focused tech startup. It’s unclear what effect that could have on its future valuation.
The company may be banking on differentiating its product not by what it operates, but where. In an investor prospectus, the company has identified military bases, corporate campuses, entertainment studios, on-demand delivery services, and universities as potential clients in the near future.
A plan last year to become a provider for colleges in the southern part of Texas fizzled when the company ran into permitting issues with Texas State University in San Marcos and Southwestern University in Georgetown. Once a presence on the University of Texas at San Antonio’s campus, Blue Duck scooters have since been overtaken by Bird and Lime.
But even in markets where Blue Duck has not encountered as many challenges, the company has a modest presence.
In Corpus Christi, where Blue Duck has about 250 scooters, the dockless vehicles have become a popular recreation downtown and along the boardwalk rather than a transportation option.
The company has about 200 scooters in Laredo, where it has a partnership with Laredo College, but City officials say micromobility has yet to take off in the border town.
In a press conference earlier this year, City of Laredo and Blue Duck officials heralded the arrival of e-scooters as a new mobility option for residents. But City of Laredo staff said the scooters have largely been used recreationally than for commuting and that residents have not fully embraced the micromobility trend.
In all, Blue Duck generated about $243,000 in annual revenue from its three markets, according to company documents. By comparison, Bird, which is valued in the billions, reported it earned more than $100 million in revenue last year.