While San Francisco may be home to Uber and Lyft, Boston is the hub of many emerging tech companies that are changing the face of transportation, whether it’s an “Uber for women” service or software that powers self-driving cars.
With the oldest subway system in the U.S., Boston actually has quite the history in leading the way for transportations. Even if the aforementioned subway system has lost its mojo, there are a number of successful technology companies that have popped up over the last three decades and made a big impact on transportation, including Mathworks and Zipcar.
In the last few years, a number of new ventures have cropped up in the Boston area, including ones that are trying to make transportation more equitable and safe—in various ways. Here are some of Boston’s hottest transportation startups that have been making moves recently:
Within less than a month, Chariot for Women has become one of the most talked about early-stage ventures in Boston because of its plan to provide a ridesharing service that only caters to female drivers and passengers. The startup has its share of skeptics who question its legality, but co-founder Michael Pelletz recently told the Associated Press he believes the plan will hold up in court. While it continues to make national headlines, the startup recently announced that it’s delaying its launch from April to this summer to meet growing demand.
While Google and a slew of other companies have been working on self-driving cars in some capacity, this MIT spinoff in Cambridge has its own ambitions for the industry through software development. As we reported in January, the startup is already profitable because it’s developing self-driving features for companies like British car giant Jaguar Land Rover. What’s more, it has raised a $3.6 million seed round, with investors like Samsung Ventures, and it’s also planning to launch a fleet of self-driving taxis in Singapore.
Like Chariot for Women, Zemcar is another ridesharing alternative that plans to launch in the Boston area, except this one aims to provide an Uber-like service for children. While it sounds like a risky proposition on paper, founder and CEO Bilal Khan told us in February that the startup plans to provide a safe and reliable service through an extensive background check and interview process and a mobile app that has many safety features, including real-time video monitoring, a panic alert system and a trusted drivers list.
With former longtime Zipcar CEO Scott Griffith as one of its co-founders, this Boston startup is developing software for insurance companies like Progressive that encourages motorists to drive safer, track their driving behaviors and reward safe drivers with cheaper insurance premiums. The company most recently changed its name from Censio to TrueMotion, and it plans to launch a free standalone app that helps track the driving behaviors of family members. The company raised $10 million in funding led by General Catalyst Partners last fall.
Bridj provides a data-driven bus service that travels on dynamically created routes based on demand through its mobile app. After launching in Boston in 2014, the startup has since expanded to Washington D.C. and Kansas City, and expansion to the latter city, announced in February, was made possible through a public-private partnership with the local transit agency there. Founder and CEO Matt George told BostInno recently that he’s currently out fundraising, after already having raised $11 million, and he expects Bridj to add six more cities by the end of the year.
Openbay is an online marketplace for auto repair and maintenance services, and on Monday it released what it said was the first app of its kind on Android. The marketplace allows car owners to compare services, book an appointment and pay for the service. It has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from GV (formerly Google Ventures), Andreessen Horowitz, Boston Seed Capital, Stage 1 Ventures and several angel investors.