Ten Hot Transportation Startups to Lookout for in 2015


Startups are revolutionizing every business every industry with new innovative ideas. Transportation industry is also a part of it. These startups have even made public transportation simple and easier than ordering food online. Scope for startups in transportation industry is wide. It ranges from carpooling to reduce traffic and pollution to booking chauffeur services online, making transportation industry hot for young entrepreneurs. Startups make use of this to capture market and make money. Some hot and  interesting transportation startups are listed below.

1. SpotHero:

The Chicago-based startup SpotHero is an app that helps customers find available parking spaces and pairs parking companies with drivers looking to find and reserve parking spaces through online and mobile app. The garages themselves have a web interface that allows them to upload their parking inventory and update this in real-time. By just opening the app, the service will display nearby spots in parking garages and lots in a given location. Parking rates at different Chicago parking garages on the map around the user is also shown in the app. The app also allows the user to prepay and book a spot to ensure the garage saves a spot for the car. With its rapid growth, the startup has widened to offer parking spots not only in Chicago but also in NYC parking, DC parking, Boston parking with many more to come.

Founded in 2011 by Mark Lawrence,  the company generated a revenue of $2,000,000 to some of the largest national parking operators in just a year. Excelerate Labs served as the incubator for the company. In 2012, the startup has raised $2.5 million in funding led by Battery Ventures with 500 Startups, David Cohen’s Bullet Time, e.Venture, OCA Ventures, New World Ventures, Lightbank & Draper also participated. Last year, it raised $4.5 million from Chicago Ventures, Bullpen Capital, Battery Ventures, OCA Ventures, Pritzker Group Venture Capital, Lightbank, G2T3V, e.ventures, Draper Associates and 500 Startups bringing the total funding to $7 million. With the raised fund, the company very recently acquired San-Francisco-based ParkPlease, a startup that works similar to the SpotHero. This acquisition gives way to 250 additional parking adding on to the existing 78 parking facilities. This gives SpotHero the biggest selection of parking options of any app in San Francisco.


2. Loup:

San Francisco startup Loup is a hybrid or combination of a private car service and mass transit. Similar to Uber, passengers can book a ride in the car through a mobile app and like buses and trains, Loup runs on a pre-decided routes and on frequent basis. The company has tied-up with local limousine companies for the service. The company plans to use different vehicles later. The charges range from $2.5 to $6 depending on the distance and the company takes 20% commission for every ride. The rides book a seat using an iOS app on the next available Loup or a later one. Driver are made to hop onto the route when there is demand and pick up riders who had requested for the pick-up. The inherent weakness, inflexibility and often unpredictability of the public transport infrastructure works to the advantages for this startup.

Started in 2014 by Aptin Rostamian and Jimmy Ku, the startup raised funding from Twitter codounder Evann Williams’ Obvious Ventures, IDG Ventures, Greg Tseng, Enrique Salem, Brian Lee, Barney Pell, Alex Mehr, Shayan Zadeh, Kai Huang, Ali Moiz, Binh Tran and Adeyemi Ajao among others. A criticism was raised on the company that it is just another income-gap-widening service from tech startup, co-founder and COO Jimmy Ku argued that Loup, when it is more widely available, will be a good option for a lot more people. “We are not trying to create another elitist transportation system,” he said. “We want to create something that benefits as many people as possible.” Depending on the users’ demand, the company promises to change the route over time. The route may change if, for instance, road construction requires a detour. Basically, it is also designed to be flexible when it comes to the cars and route in its system.


3. Luxe:

Luxe another transportation startup that has come up recently as a solution to the problem of finding a parking space in busy cities. Through the Luxe mobile app,users book valets on demand and pay a small hourly or daily rate for the duration of period their cars are parked. It is very simple to book a valet. All the user need to do is to simply pick a spot for valet for their car to be picked up via the app, which is then parked in the company’s partner garages close-by. Calling back for the car is also simple. The user can use the app and choose the spot where they want the valet to bring their car which is usually done 10-15 mins ahead of the time. This simple idea grabbed attention of many and picked up market where the company operates. Company says, 60% of its customers are repeat users and use the service more than twice in a week.

Founded in 2014 by Curtis Lee, the services are available on San Francisco and Los Angeles and is looking forward to launch in Chicago, Seattle and Boston in near future. Last month it introduced Android app for its service. The startup charges a competitive price of $5 per hour with a maximum of $15 per day to capture bigger market. Recently, the company raised a big amount of $20 million led by Redpoint and Venrock. Redpoint was previously part of the company’s $5.5 million seed round, which also included investors such as Google Ventures, Sherpa Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Partners, Foundation Capital and Data Collective. Both Redpoint and Venrock will be taking a position in the board with the new funding. Lee said, “Luxe Model, where we bring a breakthrough business model together with the latest mobile technology creates efficiency and cost savings for consumers.”


4. RelayRide:

Another transportation startup RelayRides is an online marketplace that allows car owners to rent out their cars to those who need. It bridges car owners and potential renters and set ground rules. The cars are rented out on daily basis or weekly basis.  The startup that facilitate the connection between buyers and sellers or renters and owners and then charge a fee on the resulting transactions, have been quickly and steadily, with big venture backing. Services like this benefit from big markets in which they operate, but unlike regular service providers, the company does not require to invest money on buying and maintaining the cars. This service benefits the owners as they can make some cash through their unused cars- the average income from renting through this app is $250. For renters, the rate is on average 35% lesser than conventional car rental. The service is now available in 2,300 cities and 300 airports.

Started in 2010 and based in San Francisco, the company has raised $25 million in Series B funding led by Canaan Partners along with the previous investors August Capital, Google Ventures and Shasta Ventures. Deepak Kamra, general partner at Canaan had joined RelayRides’ board after raising the fund. The new funding raises the total amount raised to $44 million. Following the $25 million, the company has raised $10 million in funding despite of closing the round. The additional money will push the company push forward with its plans to improve its products and get an Android app to market much faster. It is also working on to expand and to serve more airports in the USA. To enable and withstand the expansion, price structure has been revised to make certain people who offer up their cars for rental get a bigger margin. Rates start from $0.20 per mile and $0.40 for luxury cars. To withstand the competition in the market, the company partnered with GM and OnStar to allow users to unlock and access vehicles without having to get hold of the keys from the owners. Recently, it acquired a company called Wheelz that had built Zipcar-like hardware to install in cars and facilitate on the spot access to cars.


5.Just Park:

This transportation startup Just Park allows its users to locate, book and pay for parking spaces whether in private lots, parking garages or street side meters. The app makes use of the GPS technology in the phone to find out when the user reaches the parking location. The app even makes of individuals’ private parking space. It charges the owners of the space commission on booking and the service is used by around 700,000 drivers spread across UK. The average space cost less than half the price of its nearest on-street equivalent and all of them are 100% traffic warden-free. On arrival, payment information will be submitted for the amount of time that has been allotted. This startup’s new technology helps in overcoming the pain to park vehicle, which it says a person wastes an average of 106 days in his entire life.

Founded in 2011 and based in UK, the startup raised half of $1.5 million equity fundraising target in just 12 hours after its announced its fundraising on the crowd funding platform Crowdcube. Later, around GBP 300,000 was raised 48 hours before the start, in an exclusive offer to the users of the app. The startup created a record for the platform in Crowdcube, with more than 1100 investors taking part for the funding. The total fund raised so far is GBP 475,000 and the biggest single investment so far in GBP 50,000. Earlier, the company was funded by BMW and Index Ventures, a venture capital firm that has backed big names like Skype and British takeaway ordering service Just-Eat. With the current funding round, BWM may sell its shares it bought in 2011 for GBP 250,000, whereas the other investor Index Venture may convert the loan equity at the same price as the crowd. The amount raised has been planned to be used for product development and involve in more aggressive marketing campaign to increase the market reach. f4a5ebf8-8cb3-467c-8c81-2abe9747ad16

6. Silvercar

The startup Silvercar is a role-model of how car rental business should be. Through the phone app users can book and drive away luxury sedan at a great price. This premium rental service not only lets users book cars and pay for it through the app but also unlock the car through it. The company operates in the eight airports of sunny areas like San Francisco, Phoenix, Miami, Dallas and Los Angeles with almost 100 employees. The smartphone app acts as a one stop shop which takes care from booking to paying. No paperwork, rental counter lines, fees for add-ons like extra driver fee or gratuitous charges for refilling gas tanks comes under this startup. The company stands apart from other company with its classy Audi A4 for all its services. That is, the startup rents only AudiA4 to all it customers. For a fixed price of $89 a day during weekdays and $59 on weekends, one gets along with the car, navigation system, satellite radio, Wi-Fi etc.,

Founded in 2012 by Facebook Billionaire co-founder Eduardo Saverin, the Austin-based startup led $14 million Series B round. With the latest funding Velos Partners’ Raj Ganguly will join the Silvercar board. The company raised $18 million  in 2012. On the whole, the company has raised $32 million since its inception, with other investors that included Austin Ventures, CrunchFund, SV Angel, Chris Dixon and Dave Morin’s Slow Ventures. With the raised fund, the company plans to expand and branch out in the future to create more of a platform for shared transportation services. With its recent expansion, it is seeing about 20% top-line growth after every month, and addition of about 10,000 new customer every three months. The company’s retention rate is also quite high for about 40% of the clients use the service again for the second time.


7. Lyft:

The startup Lyft is a private American transportation network company. It has a mobile phone application through which it facilitates peer-to-peer ride-sharing by allowing passengers who need a ride to place a request from available community drivers. This ride-sharing costs 30% lesser than the usual cab ride. The process for requesting a ride is very simple. All that the user requires to do is to sign up the service with email or Facebook account. The app also allows the passengers and drivers to rate and review each other on a five-star scale to help them decide better. It differs from the regular ride-sharing on the basis that the person who picks you up is not a professional driver but another Lyft app user. Recently, the app is testing out its new feature for Lyft Line users that will make the ride cheaper if one can wait longer.

Founded in 2012 as Zimride by John Zimmer and Logan Green and later renamed it as Lyft, the cars are recognized with the pink, fuzzy mustache that drivers place in the front. The company was started with the help of Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz who lead it to $60 million investment round in the startup. Recently, the company is looking out to make ride-sharing mainstream in cities across USA and around the world. A huge amount is expected from Andreessen as the contribution. Other investors in Lyft include Founders Fund, Floodgate, Mayfield Fund, K9 Ventures, Ooga Labs, fbFund and Keith Rabois. Last September, the company acquired Hitch, the first startup to embrace true carpooling and made use of its resources and technology. The company had already acquired two other startups last year – Rover and Cherry.


8. Uber:

Uber is a venture-funded startup and transportation network company that connects passengers with drivers of vehicle for hire and ridesharing services, through a mobile app. There is not much of a difference when compared its working with that of regular metered cabs except that all the booking and payment is made through its app rather than with the drivers. Apart from booking and payment, the app allows the user to track the reserved car’s location. People without the smartphone or app, can send a simple text message to reserve a cab. This startup functions at various cities around the world. Uber services are said to be affordable and reliable transportation. Last year was very important for the company for it grew itself from small upstart to a massive machine for transporting people around. During high demand times, the company increases its prices to ‘surge price’ levels to reach an economic equilibrium by roping in more drivers.

Founded in 2009 by Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp, the app raised $49 million in 2011 through venture funds. From 2012, the company began to expand internationally. Recently, facing very high demand from institutional investors, Uber has expanded its Series E round of venture financing by $1 billion. According to the documents filed with the Delaware Secretary of State on Wednesday, bringing the total funding of the company to $2.8 million. Weeks after it closed the funding, the company announced it had left capacity for about $600 million in additional strategic investments. The company’s popularity was more than imagination, that $600 million quickly became oversubscribed and so the amount was raised.  On the whole, the company was valued to be $40 billion, jaw-dropping by any private technology company’s standards, remains unchanged since the company first announced its round in December. After Xiaomi, the Chinese smartphone maker, Uber is considered to be the most richest valued private technology startups.


9. SideCar:

Another ride app that connects everyday drivers in their own car with people nearby for safe and affordable rides powered by everyday people. The startup offers three services that includes Sidecar that connects riders with everyday drivers in their personal vehicle, Sidecar Shared Rides that is a discounted instant carpooling app and Sidecar deliveries, a breakthrough innovation that combines people and packages for the fastest and lowest cost same-day delivery solution. Like other ride apps, Sidecar has a platform for bringing together the drivers and the passengers through the mobile apps for iOS and Android. The apps allows the passengers to request for the drivers in that area and alert drivers when there is a prospective passenger in their area. They are low-priced when compared with Uber, which is comparitively easier to get.

Founded in 2012 and headquartered in San Francisco, the company raised $20 million through A and B round funding led by Lightspeed Venture Partners and Google Ventures. The funding follows on a seed round raised late last year from investors that include Spring Ventures, Huron River Venturesm SV Angel, Lerer Ventures, First Step Fund, Jeff Clarke, Lisa Gansky, Robert Goldberg, Jared Kopf and others. Last year it raised another $15 million, bringing the total funding to date to more than $30 million. The latest round was led by Avalon Ventures and included investments from Union Square Ventures and Virgin founder Richard Branson. Sidecar team plans to use the new funding to build out its shared rides program and continue its nationwide expansion. Currently, the startup rides in San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, Chicago and D.C., among other cities.



The startup FlightCar rents out people’s cars through its website while travelling, giving it a share of the proceed, free airport parking and a car wash in exchange. Customers are taken by limousine from a nearby airport parking lot to their flights at SFO, while the company says renters get a cheaper rates. The idea behind is very simple. There are lot of people who own a car and does not use it. So instead of parking the cars for $300 – $400 per month, car owners in San Francisco and Boston can rent out cars for the entire month and car owners get a flat rate of $150 to $400 per month. Liability and property coverage is included for each rental and their previous records are checked before renting out. After San Francisco, the company launched its second operations at Boston followed by Seattle and recently in Portland.

Launched in 2012 by three teenagers Kevin Petrovic, Rujul Zaparde and Shri Ganeshram, the startup raised $20 million till date through General Catalyst, Softbank Capital, First Round Capital, Y Combinator,SV Angel, Brian Chesky, Ryan Seacrest’s Group, Garry Tan, SV Angel, Andreesson Horowitz, Emmett Shear and Erik Blachford. Given its business model, and like other “peer-to-peer economy” companies like Uber and Airbnb, FlightCar has dealt with its fair share of legal battles. On behalf of the state of California, San Francisco City Attorney had filed a lawsuit for unlawful and unfair business practices, seeking penalties and injunctive relief in 2013. The case was settled later. The company currently operates in 11 other cities and Seattle location is considered as the company’s fastest growing market ever.