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BMW, Volvo invest in Zūm; ride-sharing for children

BMW i Ventures and Volvo Cars Tech Fund each have invested in Zūm, a fast-growing on-demand ride sharing service for student transportation for school districts and working families. The company, which celebrates its fourth birthday this month, aims to become the world’s safest and largest child transportation provider.

The new funding will be used to expand Zūm’s business model and increase school partnerships throughout the country as the company works to double its footprint by the 2019-2020 school year.

Funding will also support the advancement of Zūm’s proprietary technology, such as its GPS vehicle tracking and real-time system dashboards for school districts to have full visibility into a child’s commute for enhanced safety and efficiency.

Zūm was founded in 2015 and provides a trusted network of vetted drivers that allows parents and schools to schedule transport for school commutes, after-school events and other activities. It also provides the option of adding child care before or after a ride as needed.

Drivers are vetted through a three-step process. They need to be able to prove they have a clean driving record and previous child care experience. Each driver is also subjected to a driving test and multiple background checks. Finally, each driver needs to present their car and pass a thorough 22-point vehicle inspection.

Zūm applies advanced routing algorithms and machine learning to create the most efficient routes possible and to match drivers with rides. A mobile app and online dashboard allow both parents and schools to follow and track their kids’ journeys in real-time as they are being driven.

Because of the predictable nature of the business as well as Zūm’s lean and efficient business model based on smart algorithms and machine learning technology, it is a credible competitor to existing school bus operators and increases choice for parents and school districts.

Zūm currently has thousands of certified drivers in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles and other urban areas in California that together serve 80% of the state’s population. Zūm added more than 100 new school districts in 2018, and now operates in 400 cities, transporting children to more than 2,000 public, private and charter schools, with a collective 750,000 students in attendance.



Turning "Mom's Taxi" from a bumper-sticker slogan into a business model.  Nicely done!


Effective way to reduce pollution, ridesharing. An extreme case could also save school districts money by eliminating bus transportation from the budget.


Trying to replace buses with a large fleet of LDVs runs into problems of traffic volume, scheduling and especially loading.  You can line up a small number of buses in a specific order every day at the appointed time; doing this with a fleet of mom-mobiles is going to be orders of magnitude harder, and missing the right spot along 200 feet of curb when the right vehicle pulls up may result in leave-behinds.

I see this as having far more value for things like after-school and extracurricular activities.

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