Mompreneur builds $1.3 Bn school bus startup backed by AI and EV

The web helps us stay informed a lot about notable startups across various sectors including edtech, fintech, foodtech, AI, logistics, mobility, and more. But have you heard of Zum, a Redwood City, California-based startup valued at $1.3 billion? Let’s know about it.

LAFFAZ Media
LAFFAZ Media

Founded in 2015 by Ritu Narayan, 50, Zum provides child transportation for school districts and busy families. According to an interview published on CNBC, the idea of starting such a startup triggered Ritu out of a personal concern which was the inconsistency in the ride for her school-going children.

Narayan, who was a longtime tech product manager for companies like eBay and Oracle in the past had to drop her work schedule whenever her children’s school ride fell off.

She also shared that her own mother had to put her career as a school teacher aside to raise four children as she experienced the same problems as Ritu.

Narayan dropped her career to launch Zum, a self-funded AI-backed electric school bus service for school children. The company operates on a fleet of vetted private drivers, and parents can book rides for their children whilst tracking their location through the Zum mobile app.

Narayan shared that Zum received an initial quick response from the Bay Area parents. And in 2019, she started introducing Zum to local schools and asked them to promote Zum to parents. Thus, the schools enlisted Zum as a privatized school bus fleet with tracking ability.

Speaking of the competition, Narayan said that she didn’t chase competition with larger established bus companies initially because doing so could collapse her company by investing too much in the infrastructure. However, she took the risk, and five years later, Zum is valued at $1.3 billion.

Today, Zum has contracts of over $1.5 billion worth with over 4,000 private schools across California, Washington, Texas, Illinois, Tennessee, and Maryland.

Ritu Narayan has been named to ‘2024 CNBC Changemakers: Women Transforming Business List‘.

Zum is backed by notable investors and venture capital giants including Sequoia Capital, Softbank Vision Fund, GIC, BMW i Ventures, and Climate Investment among others.


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Asiya
Asiya

Staff writer at LAFFAZ, Asiya is a keen collector of lesser-known yet significant facts and stories from all across the world and loves presenting them to the masses through her writings.

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