Zeelo, a UK online shuttle booking service has officially launched in South Africa after a series of months of beta testing its data analytics platform and ramping up its operations in readiness for a nationwide expansion.
With £4.25m in funding, Zeelo quietly launched in Durban in South Africa in mid-2018 and reports to have signed up over 20,000 vehicles on its platform already. The firm, also reports to have partnered with a number of local operators in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban to provide commuting, event and private charter services.
According to Zeelo Co-Founder and Chief Executive Sam Ryan: “The significant gaps in public transport provision in South Africa mean increasing congestion, pollution and car parking challenges, causing frustration for travellers and headaches for cities and companies. We see a huge opportunity to provide South Africa with the transport solution it deserves”.
Ryan adds that South Africa is the perfect market for Zeelo whose aim is to provide safe, convenient and affordable shared transport options especially to South Africans who only rely on their cars.
Currently, Zeelo offers ZeeloCOMMUTE to ferry company employees to and from work; ZeeloEVENTS, which is mostly for event goers and targeted at organizers who want to transport people to and from their events while its third offering ZeeloPRIVATE is marketed to private groups who need shuttles of between 7 to 60 seats for private parties, holidays, airport transfers among others.
In South Africa, Zeelo took over the foundations of ‘The Rugga Bus’ which was founded by two Durban locals Andrew Robarts and James Champion.
In February this year, Zeelo closed a £4.25 million funding round led by ETF Partners with participation from current investors InMotion Ventures, Jaguar Land Rover’s mobility venture arm, Dynamo and angel investors including Michael Liebreich and Liam Griffin to further establish itself as the market leader in the UK and expand operations in Africa and other new regions.
South Africa was one of the targets for the 2017 London-founded firm.
“There is a paradigm shift in the world of mobility which is driven by technological evolution, changing consumer tastes and, underlying all this, climate change.” Says Patrick Sheehan of ETF Partners. “People increasingly recognise the attraction of shared mobility alternatives to private car ownership in cities. The Zeelo team identified the opportunity to provide better transportation to millions of people outside major cities and are already doing a great job of delivering these new services. We are delighted to support them on their journey.”
Zeelo is also using the investment to develop its technology, data and automation and is investing in new vehicle technologies, on-board experience and drivers in partnership with its coach operators. The company will also look to launch new verticals beyond the existing ZeeloCOMMUTE, ZeeloEVENTS and ZeeloPRIVATE verticals.
In the UK, Zeelo has worked with firms like Aston Martin for its ZeeloCOMMUTE and Manchester City FC, Wasps RFC and the Welsh Rugby Union through ZeeloEVENTS to give fans a more convenient and direct route to games.
Barney Williams and Sam Ryan and Dani Ruiz sold their previous startup JumpIn, a taxi booking and sharing app, to Addison Lee in 2014 while still at university.
There have been a profound change in the way people move in major cities over the last 10 years, said Ryan. Transport has become more personal, more affordable but people outside cities have been overlooked and remain completely reliant on their car.
“Our customer-centric approach delivers a transportation service with a route that’s more direct, a timetable that’s more convenient, a service that is more environmentally friendly and, fundamentally, modes of transportation that allow people to make more of their travelling time, whether for work or pleasure,” concluded Sam Ryan, Co-Founder & CEO at Zeelo.