California-based Zum, a modern student transportation provider, is revolutionizing the school bus system in the US with its focus on digitization and electrification. Founded by Indian-origin entrepreneur Ritu Narayan, the startup has raised $140 million in Series E funding, led by Singapore-based GIC, with participation from Climate Investment and existing investors like Sequoia and SoftBank Vision Fund 2.
This funding round propels Zum’s valuation to $1.3 billion and brings its total funding to $350 million. The US-based company plans to use the new capital to expand its AI-driven technology platform, which aims to decarbonize the school bus industry and combat climate change. The company is deploying fully electric school bus fleets and is working on Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) technology, turning these buses into virtual power plants. This technology is not only limited to Zum’s fleet but is also available for public school districts to use in their internal fleets.
AI Transforming School Transportation
Since its inception in 2014, the startup has been at the forefront of using proprietary AI technologies to transform school transportation into a tool for decarbonization. Its technology platform offers personalized solutions to help schools increase efficiencies and reduce costs associated with student transportation, which is typically the second-largest budget item for schools. The platform provides administrators and drivers with unprecedented visibility, allowing for optimized routes and real-time updates to parents.
National Expansion and Sustainable Impact
The services are not just limited to transportation; they also contribute to increased safety, reliability, and sustainability for school districts across various US cities. CEO Ritu Narayan’s vision for the company is to revolutionize student transportation, moving beyond traditional methods towards a future where innovative technologies advance sustainability efforts.
The investment in Zum highlights GIC’s commitment to funding the transition to net-zero in the real economy. Investors like Sequoia Capital and Climate Investment express their excitement in partnering with Zum, recognizing its role in reinventing student transportation and contributing to a more sustainable and efficient future.