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Populus Raises $3.1M to Help Cities Plan for Shared Mobility

Just one year old, Populus has raised $3.85 million to date and says it’s been enlisting a new client every week. Its platform collects data from shared scooters, bikes and cars to give to city planners.

San Francisco-based Populus, a startup whose software platform gives cities data to plan for shared mobility services like scooters and bikes, has raised $3.1 million to grow its team to keep pace with demand.

Regina Clewlow, CEO and co-founder of Populus, said the seed funding round began in January and closed on Monday, bringing its total funding to $3.85 million. Lead investors were Precursor Ventures and Relay Ventures, with additional backing from Castor Ventures and others.

Without specifying exactly how many clients Populus has, Clewlow told Government Technology the company serves cities from coast to coast, adding roughly a city a week.

“We are going to be expanding the team, because we are seeing significant growth in demand for our platform and are going to be scaling it to more cities around the world,” she said. “Most of the demand is in the United States, but wherever scooters launch, there tend to be new regulatory regimes that are put in place by cities. Wherever you see cities, you typically see a need for mobility management.”

Launched in April 2018, Populus’ platform collects vehicle and trip data from shared mobility operators, such as scooters, bikes and cars, and shares it with city planners who can identify new bike and scooter parking areas and dedicated lanes. Populus also bills itself as the only data platform that gets real-time data from shared cars to help cities with curbside management and pricing.

“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,” Clewlow said in a statement. “We are also seeing that many public agencies are beginning to consider new pricing models for streets, sidewalks and curbs … that can help reduce traffic and shift our cities towards more energy efficient transportation systems.”

Populus counts governments in the metropolitan areas of Washington, D.C., the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles as clients, as well as mobility companies who use the platform to share their data with cities.

“Over the past decade we have seen an explosion of shared mobility services,” said Charles Hudson, a managing partner of Precursor Ventures and new Populus board member, in a statement. “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.”