Carson Brown, co-founder and main product in electric scooter startup Taurus, spent four years commuting to work on a self-balancing electric unicycle. Nowadays he rides a scooter several times a week.
As a micromobility user, Brown has put a lot of thought into the design of light electric vehicles. What elements do they need to make people see them as valid forms of transportation, rather than toys? How might the design of a scooter prompt a rider to substitute public transportation or car rides for the vehicle, rather than using it just for fun in the park?
Brown has a deep background in product development, that is, he is obsessed with how a customer will use his product. He thinks this mindset will help Taur be the company that separates owned scooters from shared scooters, that shows people how to integrate scooters into their daily lives, that makes scooters cool.
“All scooters need to have really good bike lights, handle really well and have wheels big enough to handle the terrain you’re going to get in the city. But those are just the basics.” Carson Brown
Taur stood out in the oversaturated but largely meh scooter market by daring to design a forward-facing vehicle. The company is currently gearing up for its first launch in Los Angeles, which will test the power of this bold idea.
The startup is still very new – Taur was founded in 2019 when it launched a pre-order campaign for its sleek white flagship. To be raised about $5.2 million to date, including Trucks VC’s recent $3.3 million seed round.
We spoke with Brown to discuss why scooters should be designed to handle today’s roads, how good design can help people adapt to using scooters in their everyday lives and why Taur could be the brand ambassador that the scooter market needs to flourish.
Editor’s Note: The following interview, part of an ongoing series with founders building trucking companies, has been edited for length and clarity.
You worked at Uniwheel for four years. What did you learn there that brought you to Taur?
Carson Brown: My time with Uniwheel was very early in the electric unicycle space. Our team came from all over – a little bit from the automotive industry, a little bit from Formula 1. I had a product background. We were all designing something from the start that we hadn’t seen before. By building that product from scratch, you learned a lot of things about the basics of electric vehicles, batteries, motors, powertrains. But you also learn what it’s like to be a user. The most valuable thing I learned was what it’s like to commute in a micromobility vehicle every day for four years. That’s how I went to work, that’s how I went shopping. It really was an all-out effort to understand what the product was supposed to be and how its benefits were completely different from anything you might experience.
When I was at Uniwheel, electric scooters barely existed, so we built that for essentially a niche audience. Electric scooters today represent something that both my co-founder and I have great confidence that people can learn instantly and get all the benefits of any small micro-mobility vehicle. You get the portability aspects, the ease of use, the really low running costs. They suit a large audience much better.
What did you notice as a micromobility commuter that brought you to Taur?
Most importantly, the riders felt confident on the road. It’s getting better and better in a lot of cities with bike lanes, but there’s usually that horrible experience of feeling a bit of a second-class citizen, occupying a part of the road where you’re not expected, and it can be quite intimidating if you’re not are prepared. So from a design standpoint, there are things you can do about that. Of course there is the lighting of the vehicle. There’s how it handles, both in terms of stability and control. Its visibility to other road users, that’s why we designed a white scooter. All of these things can boost your confidence to drive regularly. What we don’t want is people who love it but don’t feel safe driving it on backstreets or for their weekend leisure time at a park, but don’t use it every day. At the forefront of our thoughts was, how do we build something that people would confidently use every day?
Also, the Uniwheel performed extremely well in terms of portability. So the whole concept of being able to take a product inside instead of locking it outside by default. This reduces the risk of theft and provides extra mobility. It’s like being at home with me. When I’m working, it’s with me. All I have to do is decide I want to go somewhere, and that accessibility is a game changer.
Taur is still at the beginning of his journey. What is the long-term vision? Do you stick with scooters?
We are quite focused on two-wheeled transportation. I don’t know how broad we’re going to get, but there’s a lot of room for innovation. The latest national numbers we looked at have surpassed show scooters in both sales and growth. So we see a lot of dry powder in this room.