When one thinks of AI and its many uses, getting your kid to school faster is likely not the first thing that springs to mind.
However, school bus startup Zum now has 1.3 billion reasons why you should.
The Redwood City, California-based transportation company raised a $140 million Series E led by GIC at a $1.3 billion valuation. Others participating in the round include Climate Investment, and existing investors Sequoia Capital and SoftBank Vision Fund 2.
The new round is a significant jump in value for a company that last raised money in October 2021 — a $130 million Series D — at what was a reported $930 million valuation.
The 40% valuation jump is even more impressive considering 2021 was a very different time in the private markets, with venture capital funding hitting all-time highs. Since then, many companies have seen their valuations significantly cut.
The wheels on the bus are helped by AI
Zum tries to help school districts increase efficiencies and reduce the costs of managing bus fleets through its proprietary platform — that, of course, uses AI. The platform gives districts visibility so they can optimize routes and even deliver real-time updates to parents.
In addition, the startup also has its own fleet of EV buses for districts to use. The company’s platform also can analyze when to discharge and recharge the buses, so the buses can actually send power back to the grid.
Zum’s platform is already being used by schools in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Oakland, Seattle, Chicago and Nashville among others. Zum serves more than 4,000 schools across the U.S.
“Zum is on a mission to revolutionize student transportation, moving beyond the status quo toward a future where innovative technologies are used to advance sustainability efforts,” said founder and CEO Ritu Narayan.
Founded in 2015, Zum has raised $350 million, per the company.
Illustration: Dom Guzman
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