While Uber and Lyft are cruising along, a new competitor might be coming up in their blind spot.
Ridesharing app Via announced today that it has raised $27 million in a Series B round of funding. Participating investors included Pitango Venture Capital, Hearst Ventures and Ervington Investments, as well as 83North (formerly Greylock IL), which led Via’s Series A financing.
Via will use the funding for hiring, product development and entering new markets, the company said in a statement. Chicago and Washington, D.C., are the next cities it hopes to break into.
Via has been operating in New York City -- specifically, in the area between 32nd and 110th streets -- since September of 2013, and plans to “transform public transit from a regulated system of rigid routes and schedules to a fully dynamic, on-demand network,” co-founders Daniel Ramot and Oren Shoval said in a statement.
The company provides rides in a professionally chauffered SUV or van for a flat fee to multiple people going the same way. The cost is a flat $5 or $7 per ride, not including tax, depending on whether a user pays in advance.
To date, the service has 40,000 members and more than TLC-licensed 500 drivers. Via has provided more than 300,000 shared rides.
While this most recent round of financing brings Via’s total investment funds to $37 million, it’s still far behind the bankrolls of Lyft ($862.5 million raised) and Uber ($5.9 billion raised). Uber, in particular, is said to be carrying a valuation of $40 billion. Both services offer Via-like options of their own in limited markets: Uberpool and Lyft Line.
How will Via fit into an industry that is simultaneously fledgling and crowded? That remains to be seen. Investors, however, are happy to join Via for the ride. “Via has built an impressive technology infrastructure to solve one of the world’s transit problems, and we are proud to invest in the company and the team,”said Chemi Peres, a managing general partner and co-founder of Pitango VC who sits on Via’s board of directors.