Seen and heard

Masters of the scooterverse

This past spring, according to a summer intern/informant, students on scooters became “a ubiquitous campus presence.” The Core tracked down the entrepreneurs behind the trend.

Carrie Golus, AB’91, AM’93


Kuhn and GutweinHow did you get into riding scooters?

Gutwein: When I came here as a first-year, I did not want to walk around campus. So I brought my scooter from childhood.

Kuhn: I’m walking to math class, and he’s like—voom!—past me on his little Razor. I thought it was pretty cool. I’m from New York City, and my family has never owned a car. We always biked everywhere.

Aren’t you a little big for a kiddie scooter?

Gutwein: I’m 190 and 6’2”. Yeah, I had to bend down. Within a couple of weeks it just snapped in half. I checked online and discovered they actually make adult scooters.

Kuhn: We put our heads together and thought, it would be great to sell them on campus.

So you managed to live down the social stigma?

Gutwein: At first I was “the scooter kid.” Now people say, I see your scooter gang all over the place. It’s erased some of the stigma. Those five minutes going to class add up to a half hour every day at least. It’s definitely worth it.
What are your roles in the company?

Kuhn: He’s more the businessman, financial guy. I’m more into the social realm, design, and maintenance—any mechanical issues. I put them together, clean them, and oil them in the winter.

Are you making a profit?

Gutwein: It’s a startup. We’re not in it to win it right now. It’s definitely a learning experience.

You sell a few different brands.

Kuhn: The Xootr is known as the Porsche of scooters. It’s actually bulletproof. The Razor is lower quality but still a good option. It should last through college—it depends how hard you are on it. It’s not meant to do tricks. No scooter sold commercially is meant to do tricks. All the ones you see trick riders use, on YouTube or the X Games, they’re reinforced.

What about helmets?

Gutwein: The party line is to wear a helmet and kneepads. In all reality, compliance with that is zero.

Have you gotten any institutional support?

Gutwein: We’re trying to work more with the University. Last year we tried to get into the RSO Fair as Scooterversity. They were going to charge us hundreds of dollars. This year we were in it as the RSO Scootervarsity, which is to promote scooter usage on campus. And we’re teaming up with Scooterversity, who’s our sponsor.

Do you plan on selling scooters after you graduate?

Kuhn: Our long-term plan is to expand. We’ll probably start with Chicagoland schools: IIT, UIC, Northwestern.

Gutwein: You know how Facebook came out of Harvard? Maybe scooters will come out of UChicago.

Anything else you want to say?

Gutwein: So are you interested in a scooter?


Lee Kuhn (left) and Victor Gutwein. (Photography by Jason Smith)