Zeelo, UK’s Uber for buses picks $12M to wheel expansion in UK, EU and more


Ridesharing, or rides-for-hire services like Uber and Lyft, have become popular alternatives to public transport and taxi services of late. Many commuters prefer using Uber and Lyft because of their sophisticated, app-based technology that puts control back in the passenger’s hands. Meet Zeelo, London-based mobility platform that has adapted the ridesharing concept to create a direct coach or minibus hire service for people needing reliable and cost-effective lifts to work or other places.

The online shuttle booking service has hit the headlines recently as it has picked up $12 million (nearly £8.7 million) for its expansion.

Global expansion plans

The investment round was led by ETF Partners, with participation from InMotion Ventures and various angel investors including Neil Smith, Founder of Transit Systems. The investment will be used to accelerate its expansion in the US, UK, Europe and Africa. Further, the startup plans investment in its SaaS technology offering and continued rollout of fully electric bus shuttle programs with zero-emission buses and coaches.

“Outside urban centres, the vast majority of people need a car to access work and education. Amongst our shift-worker customers, 30% of candidates don’t turn up to the job interview in the first place because they can’t get there. Zeelo is playing an important role in improving social mobility and decarbonising transportation. In the past 18 months, employers have realised the importance of it too. Now it’s time to bring this to the masses” said Sam Ryan, Co-Founder & CEO.

“Zeelo’s focus on public transport deserts directly tackles the issues of car-dependency, transport emissions and social mobility. The growth of the business during the pandemic has been extraordinary and we are delighted to continue to support the business. The world needs need more and affordable and sustainable mass transit – Zeelo is defining the category” added Patrick Sheehan, Managing Partner at ETF Partners.

Image credits: Zeelo

Massive growth during pandemic

Zeelo was founded by serial mobility entrepreneurs Sam Ryan and Barney Williams in 2014. Headquartered in London, the company operates in the UK, USA and South Africa, serving over 70 customers with over 75 employees and moving nearly 100,000 riders each month.

Zeelo has recorded over 600 per cent revenue growth over the past 18-months, reaching regional profitability, by supporting companies in logistics and manufacturing industries as well as post-pandemic hybrid workplaces and schools. It enables access for people in car-dependent areas to reach work and education by sustainable transportation.

Sustainable solution for commute

The company works with employers, schools and fleet operators to deliver affordable and convenient bus programmes that provide a viable alternative to driving a car, in order to support staff recruitment and to reduce CO2 emissions from commuting. Through the use of Zeelo’s mobile apps, client workplace planning tools, route-optimisation software and asset-light vehicle model, costs are reduced by up to 42 per cent versus using a traditional bus operator and CO2 emissions are reduced by 78 per cent.

Zeelo offers both turnkey and SaaS solutions to multinational customers such as Ocado, Amazon and Wincanton.