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Business News/ News / World/  This Indian-origin mom's $1.3 billion startup is changing school conveyance in US. Details here
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This Indian-origin mom's $1.3 billion startup is changing school conveyance in US. Details here

Zum, founded by Ritu Narayan, started as a self-financed Uber-like platform offering parents a reliable transportation solution with a mobile app for scheduling rides and tracking children's locations, now worth $1.3 billion with contracts in multiple states.

A diesel school bus turns a corner while headed toward school, Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024, in Virginia Beach, (AP Photo/Tom Brenner) (AP)Premium
A diesel school bus turns a corner while headed toward school, Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024, in Virginia Beach, (AP Photo/Tom Brenner) (AP)

Ritu Narayan, formerly involved in managing tech products for major companies like eBay and Oracle, encountered a familiar challenge, that is ensuring her children's punctual arrival at school while balancing her career responsibilities.

Meanwhile, this dilemma encouraged her to leave her job in 2015 and found a startup called Zum, specializing in an AI-driven electric school bus service.

Initially, Zum functioned as a self-financed Uber-like platform, offering parents a dependable transportation solution. The innovative mobile app enabled parents to schedule rides in advance and track their children's location in real-time, as reported by CNBC Make It.

Meanwhile, Narayan told CNBC Make It, “I knew [Zum’s original model] was changing the lives of working parents. Working women would write to us how they went back to the job, started to advance more — because they didn’t have to run at 4 pm to pick up their children — and got promoted." 

"Five years later, Zum is worth $1.3 billion. It has contracts worth over $1.5 billion with more than 4,000 private and public schools across California, Washington, Texas, Illinois, Tennessee, and Maryland," according to Narayan.

Narayan explains the rationale behind her challenging decision, its eventual success, and offers guidance for individuals grappling with dilemmas that seem to clash emotions with logic.

The original model of Zum had already begun to significantly benefit the lives of working parents, particularly women. Narayan received messages from working mothers who found themselves able to concentrate on their careers and achieve promotions once Zum alleviated the pressure of rushing to collect their children.

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Published: 05 Mar 2024, 01:55 PM IST
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