Israeli group ridesharing startup Via raises $100 million in colossal investment

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Israeli cooperative transportation startup Via announced a $100 million Series C investment Thursday in a round led by Pitango Growth, Poalim Capital Markets, and C4 Ventures. Other investors include 83North, Ervington Investments and Hearst Ventures.

“Via is creating the public transit system of the future,” said CEO Daniel Ramot and VP of Development Oren Shoval, co-founders of Via in their communiqué to the press. “With existing transportation infrastructure straining and in some cases failing to meet rising demand across the globe, Via’s dynamic bus system offers cities a smart solution to traffic congestion and emissions. We’re delighted to have secured significant backing for our vision: eliminating single-occupancy vehicle trips by creating a mass transit system powered by advanced algorithms and data.”

Via cars are noticeable by the large blue pinpoint logo in the window (image, Via via Instagram)
Via cars are noticeable by the large blue pinpoint logo in the window (image, Via via Instagram)

Founded by Israelis Ramot and Shoval in 2012, the company is headquartered in New York City, with offices in Chicago and Tel Aviv. This injection of cash just about quadruples the company’s total fundraising, bringing them to an impressive $137 million.

Unlike many of the other actors in the ride share space like Uber or Lyft, Via is looking to offer more than just freelance drivers that can push you up at the push of a button on your app. They appear to have built an infrastructure for making mass transportation smarter and better organized.

Beyond their boasts about the incorporation of “360° fleet monitoring” and the obligatory automatic/app-based fare collection, they offer deep insights alongside advanced dispatch systems that bring order to any transportation system to save time, fuel, and other costs.

Via’s target customers are mainly public transit agencies, planned communities, corporate and college campuses, all systems that could use some added intelligence. They also serve small groups for carpools and “vanpools.”

The service might be more comparable to the Israeli model of the ‘monit sherut,’ or shared taxi vans that run along planned routes both within and between cities, picking up passengers as a sort of privatized auxiliary to standard transportation, but at the same price as the bus.

In NYC, rides are available between 6:00 AM and midnight at two different rates: $5 (plus tax) 6AM-9PM and $5.95 9PM-midnight. In Chicago, it operates between 6:30 AM to 9:00 PM: generally $3.95 but $4.95 during peak hours.

Via takes this concept and makes it even smarter. Users can order the pickup to their location and Via’s software will match people based on their location and destination to coordinate with a ride going on the most efficient route, taking passengers where they need to go without any significant detours.

The service is currently only available in New York and Chicago. However after this funding round, the company says that they plan on opening up in other cities.

They already have a collaborative initiative underway with Mercedez-Benz and Development North American for what they are calling a niche project in Orange County, California.

While ride share services are a dime a dozen, Via is bringing something new to the table. If they are able to partner with the transit systems of major cities, they could do a lot to improve the user experience of the average commuter.

Gabriel Avner contributed to this report

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