On-demand transit company Via today announced the closing of $27 million in Series B funding to help accelerate the growth of its unique transit system for heavily trafficked cities. The funding was led by Pitango Venture Capital, with participation from Hearst Ventures, a unit of Hearst Corporation; Ervington Investments, representing Russian businessman Roman Abramovich; and previous investor 83North (formerly Greylock IL) who led Via’s Series A financing. The funds bring Via’s total investment to $37 million.
“Our goal is to transform public transit from a regulated system of rigid routes and schedules to a fully dynamic, on-demand network,” said Daniel Ramot and Oren Shoval, co-founders of Via. “We believe the future of urban transit systems will rely on dynamic technology like ours to make it easier and more efficient to get around town, and after operating a very successful service in New York City, we are excited to use this infusion of capital to provide new services and roll out to new markets very rapidly.”
Via’s mobile app connects multiple passengers who are headed the same way, allowing riders to share a chauffeured, premium vehicle at highly affordable rates - currently $5 (if prepaid) or $7 (for a single ride). Average pickup times are under 10 minutes, and trip durations are comparable to a taxi, despite the complexities inherent in matching routes for multiple passengers. The company’s proprietary algorithm dynamically matches passengers with seats at scale, solving unique computational and operational challenges and resulting in a more affordable and convenient mode of transportation. Via has been approved for pre-tax transit benefits, allowing members to pay for the service using pre-tax dollars.
Via was first launched in New York City in September, 2013. It currently provides New Yorkers with tens of thousands of rides per week and has provided over 300,000 shared rides in total. 40,000 members have signed up for the service, 90% of which have come through word-of-mouth referrals. All Via drivers-now more than 500 of them-are TLC licensed and drive premium vans or SUVs. The company currently operates between 32nd to 110th streets in Manhattan and is expanding rapidly.
Chemi Peres, a managing general partner and co-founder of Pitango VC, has joined the Via board of directors. “Today’s cities require a new approach to their transit challenges, but most solutions don’t address the very real problems of too many vehicles on the road and not enough affordable and convenient transportation options,” said Peres, “Via has a solution that will reduce traffic while getting people to their destinations faster and more comfortably. Via has built an impressive technology infrastructure to solve one of the world’s transit problems, and we are proud to invest in the company and the team.”
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on April 2, 2015
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