Tonia Edwards and Bill Main are the owners and operators of Segs in the City. The entrepreneurial pair got their start in 2003 with an internet café and bicycle-rental shop in Annapolis, Md. The pair soon expanded their rental business to scooters and then, eventually, to Segways, the two-wheeled, self-balancing personal transportation vehicle. By the fall of 2004, though, the two had noticed a huge market opportunity: People loved riding Segways, and they responded even better to having a guide take them around a city on the futuristic devices. And so “Segs in the City” was born.
The business has succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest expectations. Today, during their busy season (Segs in the City shuts down once snow starts falling), Tonia and Bill’s small business operates up to five tours of D.C. a day, seven days a week. They still lead at least half the tours themselves, charming tourists with stories, jokes, and their hard-earned expertise. During the summers, about half the company’s tours are led by part-time employees, mostly college students on summer break.
To Tonia and Bill, most of the joy of a Segs in the City tour is seeing people learning to have fun on a Segway for the first time—whether they’re riding around the National Mall or zooming past the city’s historic embassies. While Segways can be a little intimidating from the outside—the battery-powered scooters are entirely self-propelled—they are remarkably easy to use, and it generally takes only a few minutes for guests to get comfortable gleefully rolling on their own.