Micromobility companies that aim to generate profit must juggle running a tight ship, adhere to constantly changing local regulations, and get as many passengers as possible on vehicles. Zoba, a Boston-based micromobility fleet optimization startup, has developed a platform to help you.
Zoba runs a logic layer behind the scenes of an operator’s fleet management software that uses AI to help decide where each vehicle in a fleet should be positioned, how to incentivize users with dynamic pricing, and how to optimize performance. operational efficiency.
“The way we approach this problem is that we have a core platform that we’ve built that is basically designed to help us understand the current conditions in your market, so we’re using machine learning to figure out where it will be. demand for systems, how would that happen. be impacted by prevailing weather conditions and all other kinds of very dynamic factors that are happening in the market, ”Joseph Brennan, co-founder of Zoba, told TechCrunch. “Then we feed that information into a specially designed optimization engine to help us solve these very large and complex optimization problems quickly enough to be operationally relevant. “
Zoba’s technology is connected to the backs of more than 150,000 vehicles in 150 cities around the world, primarily in the United States and Europe. The startup is working with very large operators, including Spin, and announced on Tuesday the closing of a $ 12 million Series A funding round led by NTVC, with the participation of existing investor CRV.
Zoba intends to use the funds to expand its go-to-market functions, such as customer support, sales and marketing, as it expands into new markets like India and the United States. ‘Latin America. She also wants to expand into new verticals such as delivery and maybe even autonomous transportation in the future, explains Brennan.
“We really see ourselves as a deep tech company,” said Brennan. “The product is not finished, it never will be. And we will therefore continue to invest heavily to expand what we consider to be a fairly significant technical advance between us and anyone else in this problematic space. “
Zoba’s system is informed by historical data provided by operators, such as where vehicles have been driven or when they have been for maintenance. This information is then used to reconstruct the demand history in a way that can not only detail where trips have been in the past, but also predict where they will be in the future.
Zoba also collects environmental information about the city that could cause short-term fluctuations in demand, such as road networks and weather data.
“The weather is really critical,” said Brennan. “We use the weather data from Tomorrow.io, which is best-in-class weather data, very granular and precise, because we need to know for the next two hours if the temperature will drop by five degrees? Will it start to rain? This is the heart of what flows through our system.
Most in-house fleet management platforms are less data-driven and more intuition-driven, with local markets guessing where the demand might be, says Brennan.
“What we’re trying to do is take this data which is an incomplete, heavily censored dataset, and find some sort of truth about what demand really looks like using models that we’ve been developing for years. years, ”he said.
The company says that by implementing its platform, shared micromobility companies have seen ridership increase by 20-50%, which helps cover overhead costs like the vehicles themselves, warehouses and more. Workforce. Zoba also claims that it improves labor productivity by 20% by managing deployments, rebalances and battery swaps, and helps operators be better partners with the city by helping to manage area constraints and maintain vehicles off the sidewalks.
“Zoba is really unique in this market, in that they’ve spent a lot of time thinking about industry issues and then creating a new solution from the ground up to manage fleet optimization,” said Ben Bear, CEO of Spin, said in a statement. “Instead of relying on historical trends to determine demand, Zoba allows us to predict in advance where our customers will need our services. This really allows us to increase our revenues while reducing operating costs.