GoMetro, a South African tech company that operates in the fleet management space, has raised £9 million (~$11.4 million) in a Series A funding round led by Zenobē Energy, a strategic investor renowned for financing and operating electric buses.
Zenobē Energy also engages in large-scale battery projects for wind farms, with the U.K.’s National Grid among its valued customers (notably, the London-based company recently secured a $750 million investment from KKR, earmarked for fleet electrification financing). The fleet electrification platform, which finances large electric buses and trucks in the U.K., Australia, and New Zealand and an interest in the U.S., currently manages and finances about 25% of the entire electric bus fleet in the U.K.
Recognizing the importance of robust data quality in driving financing is behind Zenobē Energy’s lead investment in GoMetro, which specializes in logistics optimization software. As such, this collaboration — Zenobē Energy’s electric transport-as-a-service model and GoMetro’s multiple-OEM platform, Bridge — aims to enhance the capabilities and services offered to Zenobē’s extensive customer base.
Other investors in the round include new backers Futuregrowth, ESquared Ventures, Kalon Venture Partners and angel investor Greg Fury. Existing investors like 4 Decades Capital, Hlayisani Capital and Tritech Global participated.
GoMetro serves as a SaaS fleet management technology platform that focuses on vehicle data via Bridge, its flagship product that functions as a telemetry and data aggregator. Regardless of the vehicle’s make or model — whether it’s a Mercedes, BYD, or Yutong — Bridge consolidates all the relevant data of these vehicles into a unified platform, GoMetro founder and CEO Justin Coetzee told TechCrunch in an interview. The versatility of Bridge ensures that fleet managers can access and analyze data without being constrained by the disparate telematics systems associated with different OEMs.
As a civil engineer, Coetzee launched GoMetro after recognizing the inadequacy of available data in South Africa for designing transportation networks. This awareness originated from his involvement in constructing bus and train systems during the 2010 World Cup, soccer’s most prestigious tournament. In 2014, Coetzee took a significant step by creating a chatbot that informed people about train arrival times, laying the foundation for what GoMetro has evolved into today.
“During that time, I learned a lot about transportation, technology, data, and what would happen if you could bring mobile phones, the internet, connectivity, and the cloud to transport systems. And that’s ultimately the genesis of the business. My train was late. So I built an app that would tell me when it was coming,” Coetzee said on the call.
“We then moved to buses and minibus taxis in South Africa, which was adopted by the national government in the rollout of bus systems and the incorporation of the minibus sector where we built tracking solutions and fleet management solutions before moving into trucks during the pandemic.”
This strategic move, including pushing into the EV category, significantly contributed to GoMetro’s business growth. It currently boasts a network of over 15,000 vehicles (including 1,000 electric vehicles) and partnerships with 60 trucking and logistics companies.
The nine-year-old tech company, which raised about $1.5 million in seed in 2016, plays a crucial role in data management for logistics operators in South Africa. Meanwhile, in the U.K., most of its revenue comes from specializing in electric vehicle and bus management. The telematics tailored for electric buses address the shortcomings of legacy technologies designed for diesel engines, according to Coetzee. And as heavy-duty vehicles shift toward electrification, the Cape Town–based GoMetro wants to lead the way by pioneering OEM-agnostic electric vehicle telematics, according to Coetzee.
“The biggest change in the transportation sector is the switch to EVs across the spectrum. And so we think there’s an incredible opportunity for us to build groundbreaking leap-frogging tech that helps manage electric buses and trucks better,” said the CEO. “As we help bus operators and logistics operators in the U.K. plan for electrification, we will deploy that platform in South Africa and the rest of Africa as the models become available.”
Fleet owners typically rely on a dot on a map from their existing telematics provider, managing operations by contacting drivers for updates or checking a document map. In addition to its focus on EVs, Coetzee says what sets GoMetro apart from platforms such as the now-defunct WhereIsMyTransport is the ability to let clients activate any telematics unit, not limited to their own, and consolidate all fleets and subcontracting assets into a unified virtual cloud. The company then leverages its ETA algorithms to identify client operations bottlenecks. For each truck on the road, GoMetro applies rules specifying when and where it needs to arrive, notifying the fleet operator when deviations occur, and ensuring prompt attention to any delays or issues.
GoMetro’s tech actively delivers tangible value to its clients by addressing a critical challenge: efficiently extracting data from vehicles to enhance operational efficiency. This, in turn, helps its clients save time, reduce costs, minimize risks, and optimize fuel consumption, positively impacting their bottom line.
Bridge operates as an API service, utilizing a pay-per-use model. Additionally, it offers various products on a monthly subscription basis, such as its connected tire kit, which incorporates Bluetooth, temperature, and pressure sensing; a smart camera system; and a data hub facilitating data transmission.
Over the past 12 months, GoMetro has experienced a doubling in revenue; Coetzee, without providing details, says the company’s next target is to triple its current revenue by the end of next year. Expanding the fleet of its services will put it on track to that target. According to the CEO, GoMetro is looking to integrate more than 2,000 electric vehicles and 50,000 diesel vehicles onto its platform in the coming year.
In addition to using the Series A funding to help it solidify its operations in the U.K., Europe and South Africa, GoMetro is further focused on expansion to the U.S., Latin America and Australia, markets where Zenobē has a presence in the next 12 months. In the interview, Coetzee also noted that the company is looking at the Middle East, particularly Dubai and Saudi Arabia. “A lot of the same challenges and problems for fleet management we’re seeing exist in those markets,” he said.
“We are also working very closely with vehicle OEMs to bring our expertise and specialty now in data management, data aggregation and vehicle clouds to support them at a factory level. So we’ll be using the funding to grow our engineering teams, distribution and partner management teams, and investing in advancing electric bus and truck management,” the chief executive added.
“We are excited that African technology’s been globally recognized; a market leader in a city like London, which is famous for its public transport systems and excellence, has partnered with a technology business out of Cape Town. And I think that just validates the talent and the hunger that African technology companies have to tackle global problems and make global impacts.”