Optibus, an Israeli startup developing a cloud-based platform for planning and managing public transport, closed a $107 million Series C. The investment was led by Insight Partners and Bessemer Venture Partners. The round also saw participation from Dynamic Loop, New Era Capital Partners, Pitango, Verizon Ventures, and Blue Red Partners. The round comes on the heels of a brand new partnership with the UK's biggest bus and stagecoach operator.
The crazy year that played to their advantage
Optibus’s SaaS platform helps mass transit systems optimize schedules, rosters, and more. The AI-powered system enables, mostly bus systems and car services, to reduce operating costs while improving access and service for commuters. The company’s algorithm automates the allocation of resources depending on needs while considering regulations, worker’s comp, road conditions, traffic, and personal preferences. Essentially, Optibus deploys smart software to help smart cities operate, well, smarter.
By installing GPS on every bus, the system receives a steady flow of data in real-time, so that delays are updated directly to the system. The Optibus solution is based on optimization algorithms and artificial intelligence, which should make public transport more accurate for commuters, and according to the company, can help save tens of millions of dollars (up to 15%) for transport operators. In order to adapt to the modern world, the platform also supports electric vehicle infrastructure, which requires a complex management system for all the different variables needed to take into consideration when planning a route.
Optibus reports that the funding comes following a year of growth, with revenues increasing 250% - an interesting number considering the global pandemic. In a call with Geektime, CEO and co-founder, Amos Haggiag, said that “we had no idea how Optibus would be impacted at the beginning of the pandemic, but we knew that it wasn’t looking good for public transportation.”
According to Haggiag, the company saw an 80% drop in commute in certain areas, where some of the company’s public transportation customers had told people to not use their services unless they’re essential workers. “That’s when we saw customers use our platform more than ever before, logging in at night and on weekends to add changes.”
And now for the new product
Alongside the funding round, Optibus also launched a new product - Geospatial Suite - a new mapping feature helps cities make transportation networks more passenger-friendly by visualizing crucial geographic information while planning routes – such as the bike paths that riders may use on the way to or from public transit, or the shopping districts, schools, health clinics or job centers where passengers may want to go. The suite also helps promote transit equity by making it easy to view demographic data showing how route changes could affect residents' access to public transit.
Optibus was founded in 2014 by Haggiag and CTO Eitan Yanovsky, and has raised close to $160 million to date - Alibaba participated in the company’s 2018 round. The company plans on using the funds to support global expansion, as well as to continue developing the platform, and doubling their roster by the end of 2021. The capital will also help accelerate the deployment of electric vehicles in public transport.