The plane steadily and safely landed at Schiphol Amsterdam Airport. After almost 20 hours of flight and transit, Juyu got off the plane on the Luggie, a lightweight, energy-saving, electric scooter, invented by our company. Not stopping, she moved easily to the immigration counter and together, we transferred to our car and travelled to REHACARE 2016, the International Medical & Healthcare Exhibition in Düsseldorf, Germany. After a long, continuous travel and jetlag, I started yawning as soon as I got off the plane. However, Juyu, my travel companion, did not seem the least tired. She was even able to discuss with me the details of our participation at REHACARE enthusiastically. Juyu was worried that we may miss out any details and be faced with challenges. Every time there is a commercial exhibition or opportunity to promote our product, Juyu and I will definitely grab it. To promote our product globally, I know that for a company to make money, we must let go of the old-age idea that ”a penny saved is a penny earned”. The correct way is“spend money to earn money”, i.e. we only spend on the right things, such as participating in international exhibitions etc. These are expenses that we need to make, we must spend money to promote our FreeRider Brand and increase overall brand awareness.
The European and American electric scooter market developed much earlier than Taiwan’s. Thus it is a more mature and stable market, and of course, competition is more aggressive. Plus, in recent years, China also entered the electric scooter market. Chinese manufacturers entered the market with lower prices. This throat-cutting strategy transformed the market and made it complicated and messy. We are in a highly competitive environment which worsens as the day goes on. We are deeply afraid that if we reduce costs and lower the quality of our products, we may tarnish our brand, FreeRider, built over years of hard work. Thus, after, discussing with Juyu and our Michael overseas designer, we decided not to reduce costs or prices and improve our product quality. This will maintain our current market share and we will also actively look for new market opportunities. We want to turn this crisis into opportunity. It is because of this that we now have the improved, lightweight, foldable, portable, convenient, energy-saving, affordable, sleek and practical Luggie.
Every person has his or her own life story. Juyu may not have outstanding academic achievements, her family background is modest and since young, she suffered from polio. Thus, she has trouble moving around. However, this does not mean that she has lost value in life, even though many people think of her as someone who started out in life with a handicap. Juyu has overcome her existing disability with her never-give-up determination and attitude. She has and is living a life more colorful than normal people. Juyu frequently chatted with me that with her disability, even though she is pretty and smart, she dared not dream the dreams of a normal girl. She just hoped to have a 9-to-5 job, like her brother and sisters, she would be happy with that. Entrepreneurship to her is like a dream come true. In the early 1950s, Taiwan was yet developed socially and the working rights of many people with polio were not protected. They were rejected as employees and many were jobless. Since young, Juyu understood that she could not achieve success without hard work. To be successful, she told herself that she had to work extra hard. Due to polio, she was unable to walk and this made her realize that she had to work even harder than normal people without disability. She would not give up no matter what.
Once, she visited her relatives in USA and for the first time then, she discovered the wonders of an electric scooter. Juyu thought to herself that that was what she needed- a sleek scooter that she could drive on her own without effort. The electric scooter would be the thing to allow her to fulfill her dreams. Since young, to move around, she rode on a manual tricycle which she had modified herself. As Taiwan didn’t have any electric scooters, at the time, these tricycles were modified from motorcycles, bulky and hard to maneuver. The electric scooter was a god-sent! The modified tricycles were dangerous and accidents were frequent. However, they were much better than the two electric scooters which Juyu brought back from USA. When compared to the Luggie which we have invented, the scooters were still bulkier and harder to use. Juyu moved around on the electric scooters the moment she returned to Taiwan from USA. She no longer needed the manual tricycle which needed a lot of effort to go up slopes or someone to help push from the back. At that time, many people were envious of Juyu. Her disabled friends asked her where she got her electric scooter. It was that moment that Juyu knew from the bottom of her heart that she wanted to help people like her. It was then that her entrepreneurial spark was ignited.
Juyu needs to travel domestically and internationally often due to business, so she needed a handy scooter to move around. In the beginning, the earlier models of electric scooters were bulky and came with rechargeable batteries that need to be disassembled before putting back into the back of the scooter. It was very troublesome and inconvenient. I remembered one time during an international exhibition, on our way home, the tiring journey totally exhausted Juyu out. When we landed, we still had to wait a long time for her electric scooter and it became such a hassle to leave Taiwan. Not only that, Juyu also had to change into airport wheelchairs at waiting areas. Juyu told me in a determined voice and steely eyes that she wanted to develop a lightweight, safe electric scooter that did not need to be assembled nor required people’s help. A scooter that could allow users to enter and get off the plane or any public transportation such as high-speed rail, subway, bus etc. On the return journey, I came up with the 1st draft of Luggie’s blue print.
After returning to Taiwan, I consolidated all the initial ideas of Luggie that Juyu and I came up with. We got in touch with Michael Chen designer, Wolfgang Deisig and Nils Kohn from Germany together we developed, designed and put together the 1st professional blue print of Luggie. In recent years, the UK and USA’s electric scooter markets have even gotten more developed and the strong competition made it even more difficult for us to penetrate the global markets. It was also obvious that our journey to penetrate the markets with our scooters will be very hard. But we did not give up, we continued to come up with new ideas and designs to refine our Luggie. As Juyu is handicapped, she understood very well the challenges of disabled people so she could give very practical recommendations and was involved in the design right from the start. There were also other considerations we had- due to rapid global development, lack of resources and environmental protection issues, we decided to make Luggie energy-saving and environmental-friendly. After two years, in 2010, the first Luggie prototype was lightweight and energy-saving. We brought Luggie (powered by a Lion Battery) all around the world to seek business partners and allow them to experience Luggie first-hand. We must credit the success of our first Luggie to Juyu. She used Luggie herself and it was her testimonial that made Luggie so popular. Luggie brought her convenience and independence. She can now move around with ease, including taking public transportation without hassle. Her testimonial is the strongest that Luggie could wish for.