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Newly acquired Gotcha shifts to help restaurants in Charleston during coronavirus

Seanriding.jpg

Gotcha CEO Sean Flood takes one of the company's bikes for a spin in Charleston last year. File/Staff

A Charleston company that merges technology and transportation is coping with the rocky economy by pivoting to try to help other businesses in need of a hand during the coronavirus pandemic.

Gotcha Mobility said last week its vehicles will remain on the road unless the government advises otherwise.

The firm, started roughly 10 years ago, runs a ride-sharing service that enables users to rent bicycles, electric scooters and other vehicles for short periods of time.

But with stay-at-home orders in place in many states, the company shifted its business model to food delivery as local restaurants struggled to adapt to Gov. Henry McMaster's order to close their doors to dine-in service. 

Gotcha is offering its bikes and scooters at a discounted rate of $15 per day. The company usually does not operate scooters in Charleston, but it has shipped in sit-down versions from its new owner, Last Mile Holdings

The mobility company is contracting individually with restaurants that want to participate. All of the vehicles will be cleaned regularly, the company said. 

The scooters are not available from the company's ride-sharing app, though the powder-blue Holy Spokes bikes are. 

Sean Flood founded Gotcha in 2009 in Atlanta and moved the company to Charleston in 2014. The business was sold by its private equity backers in November, but the brand has been kept intact.

The sale, valued at $12 million including stock, put the Charleston firm under the ownership of a publicly traded company that's listed under the ticker symbol "MILE" on the Toronto Stock Exchange

Gotcha's strategy is to secure exclusive contracts with cities and universities that are seeking a vehicle-sharing provider. It prefers not to attempt to compete with industry giants Lime and Bird, which favor a strategy of deploying vehicles as widely as possible.

The Gotcha app is available in dozens of locations throughout the U.S.

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Reach Mary Katherine Wildeman at 843-607-4312. Follow her on Twitter @mkwildeman.