Ex-WMU soccer participant brings electrical scooter enterprise to Battle Creek
Odell Miller is nice at shifting individuals.
His bodily power and willpower earned the 2014 Gull Lake Excessive College graduate a chance as a walk-on for the Western Michigan College soccer staff, the place he finally turned the Broncos’ beginning tight finish and earned the nickname “The Nice Wall of Odell.”
Now, after a shot within the NFL, the Battle Creek native is making an attempt to maneuver individuals by the use of his startup electrical scooter rental firm, Fly Rentals.
“Micro-mobility sharing is the longer term,” Miller mentioned. “It is good for the surroundings, good for the economic system. It is economically pleasant. It is an effective way for college kids to get round campus… My objective is to develop larger, however I wish to develop slowly. I wish to concentrate on mid-sized school campuses. I wish to begin in Kalamazoo and Battle Creek and slowly develop out.”
Miller is the only proprietor and founding father of Fly Leases. He personally designed the electrical scooters, which can journey as much as speeds of 16 mph. With a headlight, bell, flip sign and brake lights, they’re avenue authorized in Michigan.
The Fly scooters are outfitted to function in all climate and seasons and have a 600-watt motor. The scooters take between three and 5 hours to cost, and a single cost can provide as much as 35 miles of journey, relying on the situations.
What makes his scooter rental sharing service totally different from others, Miller says, is the corporate’s leasing mannequin. Scooters might be leased weekly for $60, month-to-month for $40 per week or by the semester for $30 per week. Upkeep, a charger, GPS and lock are included within the subscription. The scooters can solely be unlocked by the client, who makes use of the Fly Leases app to show the automobile on and off.
Miller mentioned Fly Leases will formally be out there within the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo space by early November.
The concept for the enterprise got here to Miller when he was in Boise, Idaho, for WMU’s 2019 Potato Bowl contest towards BYU. He thought the electrical scooters he used to get round city within the days main up to the sport would work in southwest Michigan. He invested cash from his DJ enterprise, OD Leisure, to launch Fly Leases, which has been in improvement for greater than a 12 months.
Miller mentioned he had meant to supply a rental service just like different ride-sharing electrical scooter providers which have gained recognition in Michigan since 2018 however that the COVID-19 pandemic triggered him to pause and reassess his enterprise mannequin.
“I all the time search for the positives of every thing. And the positives of COVID was me with the ability to shift,” he mentioned. “What can I take positively out of this? So I began to crunch numbers and see what the longer term will seem like and was like, ‘Wow, this leasing mannequin makes extra sense’… I made a decision to pivot and never do the standard journey sharing like different corporations you may see in different cities the place scooters are mendacity all around the streets and it is crowding town.”
Whereas Battle Creek presently has no ordinances particular to electrical scooters, it does limit individuals from using a bicycle, scooter, skateboard, curler skates or inline skates on any sidewalk within the Central Enterprise District downtown.
Michigan would not have a definition for electrical scooters, which falls below “electrical skateboards.” Utilizing scooters on sidewalks is authorized, as long as riders yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and provides an audible sign earlier than passing. Scooters are solely allowed on streets with velocity limits of lower than 25 mph, besides when crossing, and have to be ridden as close to to the suitable aspect of the roadway as potential. Helmets are required for riders 18-and-under.
Miller mentioned his days of carrying a soccer helmet are behind him after NFL tryouts with the Cleveland Browns and the Washington soccer staff. After graduating from WMU with honors, he’s now attending Midwestern College Chicago Faculty of Osteopathic Medication, the place he’s working towards a doctorate in bodily remedy.
Only one.6% of school soccer gamers attain the NFL in accordance with a 2017 NCAA examine, and Miller mentioned defying these odds and incomes a short stint in skilled soccer “taught me a ton.”
“It taught me I might do no matter I put my thoughts to,” he mentioned. “Though some individuals wanting in may see that it was unsuccessful, I see it as profitable in the event that they notice that I got here from being a walk-on and a no person and a no-name.”
Victoria McCartney, Miller’s girlfriend, has supported the Fly Leases launch by attending numerous conferences and modeling the electrical scooters on social media and the corporate’s web site. She mentioned she wasn’t shocked when Miller advised her he was launching the enterprise whereas going to high school for his doctorate.
“All of the behind the scenes stuff is fairly unbelievable, as a result of his thoughts simply works otherwise,” she mentioned. “I’ve by no means seen someone’s thoughts inform them out loud that, ‘I can do that,’ they usually do it to the perfect of their capability. Every part he touches turns to gold. I am simply excited to see it develop from the very backside.”
Nick Buckley might be reached at email@example.com or 269-966-0652. Comply with him on Twitter:@NickJBuckley