This week, I had the pleasure of speaking with Mount Founder and CEO Madi Rifkin. Based out of Denver, Mount is a SaaS for private properties to launch, track and monetize their guest amenities.
On the surface, Mount is not your traditional sustainability-oriented company. But through their innovative software, rental units around the world can encourage guests to use electric transportation options in place of rental cars, ride shares, and public transportation that would otherwise use combustion engines.
That local impact can not only lead to energy savings, but also reduced traffic in cities balancing sustainable transportation with increased tourism.
Mount’s private property model also keeps ugly scooters off the streets, a major pain point for local officials. Large electric scooter companies like Bird and Lime disrupted cities when they launched in 2017, prompting some city administrators to ban them.
In addition to government barriers, Bird and Lime are facing the struggles of scaling a capital-intensive business.
Mount’s solution allows private property owners to launch personal, secure micro fleets for guests. Under this model, users can safely enjoy the benefits of quick, easy transportation, without the local eyesore.
Let’s learn a little bit more about Madi Rifkin and her new tech product Mount!
Who is Madi Rifkin and what is Mount?
Madi Rifkin is the CEO and founder of Mount. Mount is a SaaS platform that enables the tracking, management, and monetization of amenities at Airbnb properties, hotels, and apartment complexes. Really anywhere that has physical recreational assets, we can turn into an amenity.
The Mount team comes from industry leaders at transportation companies well-versed in launching large fleets of electric vehicles. Mount’s advisors come from the Airbnb and short term rental space as well. Mount brought its industry knowledge together, and discovered how a tech platform for creating and managing amenities really doesn’t exist.
That’s what Mount is doing — bringing ancillary revenue streams to Airbnb properties. They also help larger hotel chains with existing revenue streams better optimize and monetize amenities.
Q: So Mount functions as an app? Walk us through the technology. How does Mount work for an Airbnb host?
A: Airbnb hosts can pick out a vehicle or asset on the platform. We are currently compatible with electric bikes and scooters. If you don’t have one, you can purchase one and have it dropshipped to your property.
Once receiving your scooter or bike, Mount will set up your fleet on its management platform. The tech platform allows you to see who’s riding your scooters, how much money your making, where your guests are going, and all the data points around that.
Lastly, there’s a front facing app that you give to your guests. They download the app, create an account, and place payment information to use. Guests will scan the QR code on the scooter while they’re using it, and then they just need to bring it back at the end of their rental.
Q: How would you describe Mount’s mission? Have you aligned your mission with sustainability goals as you look toward a long-term vision of the company?
A: Mount’s mission is really twofold. First, we want to take cars off the road for short drives. We see that already happening with electric scooters and bikes, where there is less of a need to not take Ubers and taxis when traveling within a travel destination.
With Mount, your guest may not need a rental car, because now your property has its own local transportation options. In terms of sustainability, electric scooters and bikes have a serious opportunity to reduce carbon emissions in tourist hot spots.
The other half of our mission focuses on travel itself, where we want to offer travelers an authentic local experience wherever they go.
By leveraging recreational assets, we’re prompting tourists to jump on a vehicle, and explore the local town. We want visitors to try that local restaurant, that local shop, that historical site with congested traffic.
Ultimately, we want to provide value for the whole destination community through the controlled use of personal, rented scooters and bikes.
Q: I love founder stories. What inspired you, Madi Rifkin, to launch Mount while still in school?
A: My entrepreneur journey starts at a young age. I developed a bike lock at age 12, which is really how I first entered the bike and scooter space. I then received my first patent at 15. You can say I’ve always had that ‘entrepreneurial’ bug.
When I arrived as a freshman at Northeastern University, I chose to study entrepreneurship. At the time, we received an assignment to create a theoretical company. I got sick of making theoretical companies, thinking to myself: let’s actually make this work mean something.
That’s really where Mount was born — out of that original bike lock idea. In college, my cofounders and I dove headfirst into micromobility. That was about four, four or five years ago when the space was brand new. At the time, there were maybe 10 scooters in Santa Monica.
I kind of thought, you know, this is an interesting, new industry that’s really being born right in front of our eyes. And I think Mount could have a spot in there.
From bike lock to tech talk
So me and a few team members tried to learn as much as we could about the scooter space. What started as a bike lock company evolved into an operating platform for these large scooter companies.
When COVID hit, we pivoted again, this time into hospitality. We really just kept learning along the way. Eventually, it got to a point where we finally had a viable product market fit. Property hosts responded well to our amenity platform, especially for scooters and bikes at Airbnb properties. For hosts, it was both easy to use and profitable.
So, for the last six months, that’s really what we’ve done, what we’ve been building and where we plan to go to for the future. It’s been a long journey of twists and turns but I am really to excited about Mount’s role in the hospitality tech space.
Q: What’s your long term vision for guest amenities and micro hospitality? How will technology drive innovation in the space and where do you see it going in 5, 10, 20 years?
A: Mount is industry and asset agnostic. Meaning, we can work with apartments, office buildings, hotels, short term rentals, really any piece of private property that has an amenity that they either aren’t monetizing, or they can’t correctly manage. That’s really where we see ourselves going and growing into.
For apartment complexes, typically if they have an amenity like a kayak or paddleboard, it’s probably going to be in the side room or in the garage, where you as a tenant can go and rent it or just basically pull it out and use it. But there’s no way to know if it’s there. There’s no way to know if it’s getting back.
Mount is the company that brings data to this industry. Mount morphs traditional amenities into smart amenities, where your guests or tenants can rent before they even arrive.
The property management company will know how often assets are getting used. Maybe they aren’t marketing their amenities properly, and no one’s using your golf carts, but everyone’s using the paddle boards. You can now start to shift the way you use your station amenities and make better business decisions.
And so really, that’s our long term vision — building smarter amenities for private property.
Q: In what cities are you currently operating? If any readers own private property, and we’re interested in Mount, how can they sign up?
A: The great thing about our platform is that it’s not dependent on geography. So really any amenity in any property would work on our platform.
With that said, we did start opening up in cities and towns that don’t have a ton of micromobility solutions, partly because it would incentivize the guest to use our scooter or bike more. Also, it just gave that town a new transportation mode.
We opened up in Denver, which actually has a lot of micromobility options, but that’s where we’re based. We also opened up in Estes Park, which is a small mountain town, in Colorado. We’re active in Miami, Los Osos, Big Bear, and Coronado in California, and Phoenix, Arizona.
The US West has been a wide market for us early on but we definitely plan to expand across the US and internationally after our Wefunder is closed.
If you want to get in touch with us, you can sign up for our waitlist on Mount’s website. That’s probably the best place to reach us at the moment. If you’re interested in participating beyond a customer, you can join our Wefunder as well.
For those who don’t know, Wefunder is a crowdfunding website, similar to Kickstarter.
Q: Mount already broke their $75,000 crowdfunding goal in a just a few weeks. Madi, why did you decide to launch a crowdfunder alongside venture capital?
A: We decided to open a Wefunder so our family, friends, and customers could invest alongside larger VCs that participated in our seed round. This Wefunder is a way to get our community tied to our success as a company.
Potential customers can invest as little as $100 to get involved and access a safe investment for future equity (SAFE).
Mount would love to have customers and prospective customers as investors; you are the ones who know our product best. In the long run, this will help us grow. And as we grow, we want to give back to you and ensure that you’re reaping the benefits on the customer side too.