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September 1, 2022

Q&A with eSkootr Championship chief exec Hrag Sarkissian

eSkootr Championship chief executive Hrag Sarkissian discusses launching an entirely new sport from scratch and the importance of its mission.

By Stu Robarts

This May saw the launch of the eSkootr Championship (eSC), an international electric race scooter series conceived in part to accelerate the use of micro-mobility solutions in cities.

The inaugural eSC race in London on May 14 was followed by round two in Sion, Switzerland (May 27-28). Rounds Subsequent rounds were initially planned in Italy, France, and Spain, but a postponement to the first of those, which would have been in the city of Genoa, has meant some rejigging.

Updated plans for a minimum of two more races this year – rounds three and four – are expected possibly as soon as next week, and there will be an expanded calendar for the 2023 season.

The 2022 season is being contested by 30 riders – both male and female – spread across 10 teams and competing on what is described as the “fastest e-scooter in the world,” with a top speed of over 100kph and “Formula 1-style tech.”

It’s also benefiting from coverage by some significant players, including BeIN Media Group and DAZN.

Hrag spoke to GlobalData Sport about how the series was conceived and developed, the plans for growing it, and the reception it’s had so far.

How was eSC conceived and developed?

My friend and business partner, the former racing driver and Middle East motorsport development consultant Khalil Beschir, and I discussed a wild idea for a world escooter racing series. Now eSC’s chief operating officer, Khalil has a sporting background while my own experience is in innovation-led business, so together we homed in on the idea of a sport with a wider purpose that speaks to a new generation and could inspire a new movement for safer, sustainable, and more liveable cities. eSC really went from brainstorming to business plan in a matter of hours.

Khalil reached out to our mutual friend, ex-Grand Prix driver and two-time winner of the legendary Le Mans 24 Hours Alex Wurz, now chairman of Formula 1’s (F1) Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (GPDA) and the founder and chief executive of an internationally renowned business focusing on road safety, driver training, and track design. He too was soon hooked and really saw eSC becoming an innovation lab that accelerates performance and safety improvements with real-world relevance.

We then met with Lucas di Grassi, who has enjoyed great success in the Formula E electric series and is someone who is very much involved in the social, political, and financial conversations within the mobility realm. He shared our vision for eSC becoming an important platform for showcasing climate action through sport and he became our sustainability ambassador. Alex also came on board as safety ambassador.

From there, it was really about turning our dream into reality, albeit at the same time as we were all experiencing the pandemic. But the hard work paid off, and we finally brought the vision to life in 2022 with our inaugural season and the first race in London.

How did you go about productizing and monetizing the eSC?

At this stage in eSC’s development, the race event is our core product, which we then promote locally and distribute globally through our broadcast partners. As a completely new sport, in our inaugural season, our focus is very much on raising awareness and building an audience for the category.

We then have a variety of monetization levers we will activate in future seasons, from commercial partnerships through to advertising, team sponsorships, media rights, franchising, and intellectual property licensing.

Is eSC’s mission of promoting micromobility a help or a hindrance to it becoming a successful sporting property?

eSC is not just a new championship but an entirely new sport and entertainment format for a new generation. It was conceived with a clear mission to use racing and the power of sport as a platform to promote new, more sustainable, and accessible methods of urban transportation. So, promoting micromobility is not only helpful to the success of our sport but central to its purpose.

The new generation of sports competitors have a vision of their own – they want to make a difference. That has been very clear in the 500 or so athletes we have spoken to and assessed during the process of narrowing down our field to our current 30 riders. The world around them matters and the chance to be part of a sport that not only entertains but at the same time informs and inspires societal change is really appealing to them. They take their role as ambassadors and advocates seriously because they know that eSC is a sport with fans at its heart and that those fans care about sustainability, diversity, and accessibility as much as we do. As eSC develops, we look forward to sharing more plans to address those areas.

How have race destinations been selected and what is the offer for destinations?

We chose London for our first race as it is both the home of eSC as well as an urban center for the development and promotion of micromobility. In Sion, our second round, we partnered with a sustainability festival where we were able to race in the heart of the city center attracting an audience of around 10,000.

We will conclude our inaugural season in Europe with two further rounds (soon to be announced) and from season two look to race further afield, partnering with host cities who share our vision of an inclusive, accessible and sustainable sport available to everyone.

What is on offer for partners and broadcasters?

We offer an extensive broadcast package ranging from a live feed through to extended and highlights packages. We also stream the race live via our own eSC Fan Hub.

What partner, broadcast, and calendar developments can be expected this season and beyond?

2022 is very much a foundation year that will inform how we develop the sport for seasons to come. Our first two rounds in London and Sion established a really positive baseline and gave pause to other cities that had expressed an interest in hosting a round of the championship.

In some cases, it is key to those cities that they align with related events such as the sustainability festival in Sion and so those destinations will come on stream for the 2023 calendar. We’re forging new relationships with broadcasters all the time, such as eSC recently featuring on ESPN. And we’re looking forward to revealing more of our plans to bring our sport to even more competitors around the world in future seasons.

What has the initial reaction been among fans, partners, and broadcasters?

Since the beginning of the 2022 season, eSC has benefitted from vast global exposure, largely due to partnerships with global broadcasters across more than 20 territories, with a potential home reach of over 400 million.

Aligned to this, eSC social channels have seen rapid growth thanks to engaging, short-form content. An example of this is eSC’s TikTok channel, which received more than 460,000 likes in only the first two months of being established. eSC’s Instagram has an average of 10.4 million monthly reach with over 225,000 unique engagers, and, as a result, the channel’s engagement rate surpasses that of the sports category’s average. Additionally, in its first month, eSC’s Instagram saw a 76% audience growth.

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