In 1977 Peter “invented” the Two-wheeled Motorized Vehicle Rental Business in the United States….
He was only 19 years old and had just started college as a first-year student at the University of Virginia. Peter J. Burns III rode a second-hand moped to class as transportation and at the time, the law classified it as a motorcycle with the requisite license tag, registration, required motorcycle driving license and insurance…as if it were a big, bad Harley. At a maximum speed of 25 mph and gas mileage topping out at 150 mpg, the little motorized bicycle was the perfect way to get around the sprawling grounds of UVa.
Peter talked his way into the “Entrepreneurship” class at the McIntire School of Commerce, even though he was only a first-year student and admission to McIntire couldn’t happen until his 3rd year and the elective in “Entrepreneurship” was for select 4th-year students only. Coincidentally, the Federal law of moped registrations changed, allowing States to regulate their classification and “overnight” the motorcycle requirements were gone in 35 States and anyone with an automobile driver’s license could ride a moped on the streets….no motorcycle tags, licensing, registration or insurance required.
The “Entrepreneurship” class that Peter took required the preparation of a Business Plan from an original idea. Peter J. Burns III fashioned America’s first moped rental business for his Business Plan and targeted his longtime summer home of Nantucket as his “beta test.” That summer after receiving his only “A” in his short-lived college career, Peter bought 15 mopeds from the Austrian moped manufacturer, Steyr Daimler Puch, and placed the 50 cent folding table and cash box acquired from a thrift shop and mopeds, smack in the middle of Nantucket on a dirt lot that he rented for $500 for the summer. In 10 weeks, his moped rental fleet had grown to 40 mopeds and he had generated $55,000. Not bad for a teenager’s first “official” business venture over 40 years ago!
Peter’s academic career was over but his entrepreneurial legacy was launched. He eventually built his recreational rental business to 100 locations around the US and Caribbean, expanding into bicycles, jet skis, and even Harleys at some of the finest resorts, making him millions of dollars over the years.
The foundation of Peter J. Burns III’s “empire” was his rental business which threw off enough profits to launch some 150 other businesses in dozens of fields over the years. Even after Peter left the rental business some 20 years ago now, he has watched the industry (two-wheel rentals) morph and grow into the multi-billion dollar electric scooter rental that has proliferated recently.
Peter J. Burns III is amazed at how his teenaged college project 40 years later, has metamorphosized into one of the greatest transportation plays in history:
He may not be in the rental business anymore and cashing out in the billions as some operators have taken this industry…but no one can take away the fact that he is the pioneer that started it all in the United States as a 19-year-old entrepreneur!
Follow the adventures of Peter J. Burns III at http://www.peterjburns3.com
Note: Previously published by Peter J. Burns III on Medium (2018)