Founded by MIT and UC Berkeley PhDs, the Populus platform helps leading cities securely access data from mobility operators to deliver safe, efficient streets
SAN FRANCISCO, Mar. 14, 2019, Calif — As shared scooters, bikes, and cars continue to grow in popularity around the world, cities and private operators have struggled to find ways of working together to deliver safer, more efficient streets. Founded by industry veterans with PhDs in transportation from MIT and UC Berkeley, Populus, a San Francisco-based startup, has just raised an oversubscribed $3.1 million seed round to help cities access better data to plan for private mobility fleets.
This latest round of financing brings Populus total funding to $3.85 million, with backing from Relay Ventures, Precursor Ventures, and a fund exclusively supporting MIT alumni, among others.
The Populus platform allows cities to securely access vehicle and trip data from shared mobility operators, including scooters, bikes, and cars, to shape transportation policy and planning. Through Populus’ user-friendly interface, city planners can view scooter parking events and trips to quickly identify new bike and scooter parking areas and dedicated lanes. Populus is also the only data platform that ingests real-time data from shared cars to support efficient curbside management and pricing.
Although the startup is less than a year and a half old, the Populus team is stacked with more than a decade of experience building software for cities. Populus CEO and co-founder, Regina Clewlow, who is being honored in this week’s San Francisco 40 Under 40, is a former executive of moovel (now ReachNow), the joint mobility services arm of Daimler and BMW. Prior to her private sector experience, Clewlow was a research scientist and lecturer at Stanford, UC Berkeley, and MIT, where she became a leading expert on shared mobility and their impacts on cities.
Populus CTO and co-founder Fletcher Foti also has an impressive background at the intersection of transportation science and software, having previously served as the Chief Data Scientist of a UC Berkeley software spin-off that was acquired by Autodesk to simulate the future of cities. Foti has a PhD in transportation and urban systems from UC Berkeley, where he and Clewlow previously worked together in a geospatial transportation analytics research lab.
“As our company’s name implies, the Populus team is focused on helping the public sector and private operators prioritize safely moving more people, not cars in our cities,” said Clewlow. “In a few short months, we have already seen that when cities have access to shared mobility data through our platform, they are able to make decisions that are sometimes politically challenging, such as carving off street space for bikes and scooters to safely operate. We are also seeing that many public agencies are beginning to consider new pricing models for streets, sidewalks, and curbs - strategies that can help reduce traffic and shift our cities towards more energy efficient transportation systems.”
Populus already supports major cities and private mobility operators to facilitate the exchange of vehicle and trip data for mobility management and planning. Their platform is being used in several metropolitan areas, including Washington, D.C., the Bay Area, and Los Angeles region, as well as by leading mobility operators who use their platform to securely deliver insights from their data to cities.
“Over the past decade we have seen an explosion of shared mobility services. In order to fulfill their promises of delivering safer, equitable, and efficient streets, shared mobility operators will require platform partners like Populus to facilitate their continued growth,” said Charles Hudson, Managing Partner of Precursor Ventures and new Populus board member. “The Populus team’s deep technical and industry expertise are unparalleled. They’ve dedicated their careers to solving the world’s biggest urban problems, and they are building a game-changing platform that will transform the future of cities.”
Populus is a platform that helps cities and private mobility operators deliver safe, equitable, and efficient streets through better data and analytics. Trusted by leading cities and the world's largest mobility operators, the Populus data platform integrates data on shared services (carsharing, ride-hailing, bikeshare and scooters) to plan for the future of transportation. Founded by experts on shared mobility and advanced transportation modeling from MIT and UC Berkeley, Populus builds an essential bridge for cities and private mobility operators to work seamlessly together.