While plenty of cities are getting used to electronic scooters and bicycles, Atlanta will be the first city to ride around on electronic trikes.
Next month, the Charleston, S.C.-based ride-sharing company, Gotcha, plans to distribute its newest product into the bustling Georgia metropolis, which will also get a fleet of the company’s electronic scooters, bikes and cars.
Ahead of the newest addition’s rollout, Gotcha gave this year’s South by Southwest attendees and other Austin residents a chance to demo the black-and-green, three-wheeled machines that top out at 25 miles per hour. However, they didn’t just settle for shipping in a bunch to join the already-crowded sidewalks and streets during the festival. Instead, Gotcha CEO Sean Flood rode there—all the way from Tallahassee, Fla., where the company first began a decade ago.
Unlike some elaborate SXSW activations, the 979-mile ride wasn’t in the works for very long; Flood and his team decided on it just four weeks ahead of the annual tech festival—and to film a documentary along the way.
“While these trikes are not designed to go cross-country,” Flood said, “if I could ride it 979 miles from Tallahassee to SXSW in Austin, then you as a consumer could ride it to lunch or from your house to work and replace a car.”
The eight-day trip brought Flood through safer (and slower) backroads from the gulf coast of Florida, through southern Alabama, across Mississippi, through the bayou of Louisiana and finally to Austin. Along the way, a documentary team captured footage both of the journey—scenic sections, stops for fast food, and even an interaction with the police. It also let Gotcha explain its own story of why it thought the world needs electric tricycles in the first place.
While other companies focus more holistically on the brand in their marketing, Gotcha’s documentary feels far more personal. In some scenes, Flood just talks into the camera while cruising alone down some remote stretch of road. Others show him interacting with people he meets along the way: In one, he chats with party-goers in Lafayette, La., during Mardi Gras and gives rides to people in parking lots; in another, he explains his trike to a sheriff, who laughs in wonder at the sight of a grown man riding a motorized trike.
The movie has the feeling of a YouTube vlog more than a highly produced TV spot. “There’s like a level of joy,” Flood says in the film at one point. “It’s one of the things that I say a trike does for sure. One of the ways you change behavior is you have to add personality and excitement. Nobody ever does something that’s not fun and then does it for a long period of time.”
Other scenes are more artistically shot—above him with drones or alongside with another vehicle. However, because of the nature of the journey and the timeline before SXSW, there wasn’t much time for editing. The company didn’t disclose costs, but it said it made the film on a tight budget. (Part of that was spent on custom-wrapping a small trailer with Gotcha’s branding along with the phrase, “Our CEO put his money where his trike is.”)
“We had a very loose narrative in place to tell the story of Gotcha by recording Sean talking,” said Gotcha chief creative director Paul Dunbar, who added that they spent just two days to edit the 20-minute doc before SXSW. “Other than that, it’s complete run-and-gun for seven days. We’re just like, ‘I just hope everyone’s OK.'”
Indeed, the trikes are fun to ride. Adweek was able to take a few for a test drive in a parking lot behind a Schlotzsky’s restaurant in Austin, where Gotcha had its makeshift riding area. Two front wheels provide more balance than a regular bike, and the seats would be appealing for longer distances. However, will the general public embrace taking them on actual roads?