Blog Post

Zum Accelerates Plans To Modernize School Transportation With $130M Series D Led By Softbank Vision Fund 2

I started Zum 6 years ago to break a cycle. A cycle that has held parents and families like mine back for generations. When I was young, my mom had to quit her job as an educator in India, like her mom before her, to ensure my brothers and I could get to and from school. Once I had kids I feared I might end up having to do the same. When they became school-age, I was working as an executive and couldn’t find good transportation options for my kids to attend their school. So, I created an alternative, Zum. And in doing so I altered a cycle that not only impacted me, but also so many of the other local working parents I’ve met since starting the company. Making sure parents didn’t have to worry about their kids while on school transportation was and still is our primary goal.

Yet as Zum has grown, so too has our ambition for fixing the systematic problems. As we dug in, we realized the problem was far greater than just about helping local working families. It turns out school transportation is the nation’s largest mass transit system, and it’s massively broken. It’s a problem hidden in plain sight as it hasn’t changed much in over 80 years. Over 25 million kids go to and from school every day in an outdated mode of transportation. Student transportation is costly, it’s bad for the environment and there’s very little visibility into safety and maintenance records, on-time arrivals, real-time vehicle locations, background checks on drivers and more.

We started out as a company for parents to directly schedule rides for their kids, yet we knew there was an opportunity to build on our success and expand our services to the entire system. We saw an opportunity to break even more cycles. To break the cycle of dependency on diesel-fuel powered buses that result in 6 Million tons of co2 emissions per year. To break the cycle of parents and school administrators remaining in the dark about knowing where exactly students were and whether they got on or off the bus. To break the cycle of wasting unnecessarily large amounts of school budgets on transportation rather than on programs like after school activities or meal subsidies.

Today, we are taking a huge step forward in solving the systemic issues that have plagued school transportation. We’re modernizing the entire system because we believe schools, parents, kids, and drivers all deserve better.

We are excited to announce $130 million in Series D funding led by Softbank Vision Fund 2, with participation from existing investors, including Sequoia and BMW i Ventures. This brings our total raised to more than $200 million.

We will use the new capital to further our mission to reimagine student transportation by strategically expanding our service across new markets and districts while adding new electric vehicles on our platform as we deliver on our 100% EVs by 2025 commitment.  To learn more about our plans, I encourage you to read our recently unveiled vision. for student transportation through 2025 and beyond.

I started out with the belief we could help families facing challenges like mine. And quickly learned that we have an opportunity to go far beyond and help families across the country and the broader communities by ensuring safe, sustainable, flexible student transportation for all.

If you’d like to learn more about the details on our funding announcement, please see this morning’s press release.

All of this has been made possible by our amazing team who have been champions of our company and our vision and executed tirelessly and flawlessly to make this happen.

Thank you,

Ritu Narayan

Founder & CEO