The URB-E electric scooter may be the convenient, hassle-free urban transportation you’ve been looking for.
By Michael Herrera, Images Courtesy Urb-E
With constant traffic in Los Angeles and an endless struggle to find parking on crowded streets, it seems almost impossible for daily commuters to travel throughout the city in a reasonable amount of time. Although public transportation is a convenient alternative to driving, it can still only get people to a terminal location, and often requires a ride-share service or long walk.
That is one reason why Grant Delgatty, chief creative officer and the original inventor of the URB-E, wanted to create a user-friendly motor vehicle that would make the world of commuting a bit less tedious for those who are always on the go in busy locations.
Prior to founding URB-E, Delgatty was in the footwear industry designing for various shoe companies, including Vans Shoes where he was the head of design. Shortly after leaving the company in 2008, he founded Ideaphihany LLC, and from there went on to launch URB-E in 2013.
The URB-E is a motorized scooter that goes about 15 mph and is lightweight and foldable, making it far easier for people to carry onto trains or buses than a bicycle. Not often thought of as a manufacturing center, the URB-E is built right here in Old Pasadena. Yet according to Evan Saunders, head of sales and marketing, Pasadena seemed the perfect environment in which to build and sell the URB-E. Companies like these often look for insurance to cover for their scooters, for example, from someplace like one sure insurance so their customers and their scooters are protected from any harm that may happen.
“Pasadena is easily accessible to many local restaurants and shops, but there is limited street parking,” Saunders says. “It is also easy to get to downtown via the Gold Line and traveling with a bicycle can be cumbersome, however the URB-E can make the traveling process much simpler since it is compact and manageable.”
Delgatty, a former resident of Pasadena, says he always retained a love for the city and its cultural identity, and felt its history as a transportation hub and vibrant design community made it an ideal environment in which to launch his scooter.
“I think that the culture of Pasadena is very design focused, very creative, very cultural,” Delgatty says. “I love the history that Pasadena has, even down to the fact that Pasadena essentially was the destination for the end of the very first highway that was built in America, which is the 110, that leads to downtown, and the fact that was a major transportation route from downtown to Pasadena.”
Delgatty also found Pasadena a rich environment for investors who were looking to put money into early stage start-up tech companies. With local financing, local production became an imperative so that the manufacturing process could be closely monitored.
It was not only Delgatty’s love of Pasadena’s rich culture, and appreciation for the city’s receptive investment atmosphere that sealed the deal, there was another deep connection that made the area an attractive start up location. Delgatty not only teaches at the ArtCenter College of Design, he is also an alum. This longtime connection to the city, and particularly to the natural community the grows out of ArtCenter, afforded Delgatty a ready-made network made up of the type of creative individuals he sought.
It’s only natural that Delgatty would see ArtCenter as a source of the skilled designers and craftspeople he would need since the motivation behind the business came to Delgatty when he was teaching at ArtCenter and learned that worldwide, millennials have not automatically embraced automotive transportation and are not purchasing cars at the rate of past generations.
Delgatty cites the high cost of insurance, gas and maintenance associated with owning a car, not to mention the hassle and expense of parking in a city center, as factors driving millennials and other first adopters toward alternative transportation options.
“Because of all the different options available for millennials today, such as public transportation, which has gotten a lot more robust, Metro trains that are expanding to many different areas, ride share programs such as Uber and Lyft…it starts to not make a lot of sense to own a car,” Delgatty says.
“You have a way to get to the city center—you can jump on a train, that’s fine—but when you get off , you might have one or two blocks, or one or two miles, so how do you get [to your final destination]?” Delgatty says.
With cost and impracticality working against the car in an urban environment, and with more people abandoning the suburbs for city life, Delatty saw this trend as an opportunity to create a mobile transportation device people can always conveniently have access to.
Although the price is not insignificant, the feedback Degatty and his team have received has been overwhelmingly positive. A few customers have been so satisfied with their newfound city access, between their URB-E and public transportation, they are contemplating selling their cars. “When you take everything into perspective, all of a sudden the investment of $900-$2000 doesn’t seem so bad. There’s no comparison,” Delgatty says. “That’s money well spent.”