School districts across North America are on board with Transportant — to the tune of $11 million in pre-sale agreements, co-founder John Styers said.
The startup, which uses video-based technology to allow students, parents and school administrators to better monitor school buses, announced the milestone — $10 million over its goal of $1 million in pre-sales — Thursday at Lean Lab’s Launch[ED] Day pitch event.
Noting big agreements with New York public schools, Collins Bus Corporation (the largest bus manufacturer of Class A buses in the country) and educational software company Lumen Touch, Styers said Transportant also nabbed a crucial customer to the north.
“We got a signed agreement from British Columbia public schools, which is 18 percent of the entire student population of Canada,” he said.
Kansas City-based Transportant, led by Styers and co-founder Alan Fairless (also co-founder and CEO of SpiderOak), was one of five Lean Lab incubator fellows participating in Thursday’s pitch night. Fellows received $8,000 through the program, with two winners — Transportant and H3 Enterprises (Healthy Hip Hop) — each taking home checks for $25,000 at the end of the evening.
The bus tech company fills a clear, but previously unaddressed need, Styers said.
“School buses are exactly the same as they were years ago. It creates a void. And it creates a pain point,” he said. “Students can be standing at a corner waiting for a bus. They don’t know if the bus is going to get there, if it’s going to be 30 minutes late, or never show up at all.”
Kids aren’t the only ones in the dark, Styers added.
“We have administrators who don’t where their buses are. They don’t know when they’re going to get to the school. They don’t know who’s on the bus. And they don’t know what’s happening on the bus,” he said.
Citing instances of students getting off at the wrong stops — or even falling asleep on the bus, being overlooked by the driver and getting trapped inside at the end of the route — Styers said Transportant can help solve issues of basic human error.
Hardware mounted by the school district in its buses communicates with software customized to each user, offering real-time live video feeds, tracking and other details, he said.
“Students are going to be safe and secure staying at home, monitoring where the bus is located and when it’s getting close. They’re going to get notifications when the bus is being delayed or if it gets canceled,” Styers said. “The parents will be notified when their students are dropped off at the correct bus stop. … They’ll use our Apple TV app so they can monitor the bus. They can check the weather. But most importantly, they’ll be able to see what’s for lunch today.”
Bus drivers’ needs also were included the technology’s development, he said.
“These are gods and goddesses. These drivers put up with some unbelievable issues,” Styers said. “Now they finally can get a route-by-route guidance selection. This is a dynamic routing capability, so as we change the routes for fuel efficiency or drop-offs and pickups, they’ll know exactly where to go.”
For photos from Thursday’s Lean Lab Launch[ED] Day event, as well as a video highlighting the fellows, check out the gallery below.