Share Mobility, which provides transportation solutions for companies, today announced that it closed a $12 million Series A led by Iron Gate Capital and Renewal Funds with participation from Employment Technology Fund, JobsOhio, Seamless Capital and others. CEO Ryan McManus said that the goal with the new cash will be threefold: supporting growth, people and product.
"The funding allows us to grow into our enterprise customers’ more than 2,000 locations across the country and hire the right people to make it happen," McManus told TechCrunch in an email interview. "We are well positioned to expand our footprint in the areas they are asking us to expand, as well as add more features to our platform."
Founded in 2016, Share was initially focused on autonomous vehicles. But it later pivoted to "mobility as a service"; McManus says that the company found a product-market fit during the pandemic.
"When people started to return to work and companies were in dire need of workers, we quickly realized that if companies are able to hire people that don't own cars, their hiring pool increases from 20% to 60%. And that was the revelation -- to offer a service that helps employers get employees to work, to fill those job openings and retain them," McManus said. "We showed enterprise companies that they can solve their workforce shortage by providing transportation as an employee benefit. Companies like Google were already providing it as a perk for employees in major hubs, but as more enterprise companies stake their claim into regions like the Midwest, the need for reliable commuter transportation was clear."
Image Credits: Share Mobility
Transportation is a common employee perk among tech giants (excepting those under pressure from activist investors, perhaps). As of 2020, there were an estimated 1,020 private commuter shuttle buses in the Bay Area -- a private transportation system worth more than $250 million. Some Silicon Valley buses travel as far as 55 miles from San Francisco to pick up workers daily.
The dramatic expansion of private shuttle programs reflects the pressures that the tech industry has put on major cities. In Silicon Valley in particular, high salaries have driven up housing prices, forcing white- and blue-collar workers to move farther away from their jobs. Absent affordable public transportation or shuttles, employees are forced to pay out of pocket to get to work. This disproportionately impacts low-income workers; according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, low-income Americans spend 37% of their income on commuting -- a percentage that's likely to increase with rising gas prices.
Share develops tools designed to help smaller companies build their own shuttle-based transportation solutions, in a nutshell. The platform leverages a company's data to create and schedule routes and works with local fleet operators to provide vehicles and drivers, delivering a toolkit that allows for real-time vehicle tracking. (No word on whether drivers can opt out of tracking if they're concerned about the privacy implications.)
All the drivers Share works with are salaried, McManus said, and use different vehicles depending on a company's requirements. Customers get a dispatch team and rider hotline with live agent support.
"The workforce shortage is one of the biggest challenges facing enterprise companies today. HR departments have never before tapped into where their employees live to attract talent and better retain its current workforce," McManus said. "We are enabling companies in any part of the country to have better, expanded access to talent through employee data that shows directly where their workers are coming from."
The mobility-as-a-service market is expected to grow from $182.12 billion to $210.44 billion by 2026, according to Fortune Business Insights. Per McKinsey, investors have poured nearly $330 billion into more than 2,000 mobility companies since 2010.
But it isn't always smooth sailing. In 2020, Share lost 96% of its revenue nearly overnight as the pandemic put a halt to operations, McManus said. Even amidst the broader slowdown in tech, however, he asserted that Share is in a place to scale through its enterprise model, particularly as companies expand into Midwestern and Southern states. The company has expanded to 11 states with customers planning to add Share-powered routes in over 100 locations this year.
Image Credits: Share Mobility
On the horizon is expanded work with municipalities. Share can work with cities to create mobility-as-a-service programs that function like on-demand ride-sharing but with fleet vehicles, McManus explained. Cities can use their own vehicles or Share partners, mixing public and private transit to provide transportation to business parks and other places that municipal busses won't go.
Startups like Via are already doing this. But McManus thinks that Share's platform is sufficiently differentiated.
"As enterprise companies continue to battle inflation, worker shortages, supply chain issues and other factors that directly impact its bottom line, it’s evident that the need for an economical, scalable solution to workforce challenges are critical. Improved access to transportation and commuter benefits can help close these gaps," McManus said.
Tapping the new cash, Columbus, Ohio-based Share plans to increase the size of its workforce from 35 employees to 75 by the end of the year. To date, the company has raised $19 million in venture capital.