Montreal carpooling platform Netlift has announced the closing of a $1.3 million first tranche of funding, to be finalized at the end of June, from a group of investors and strategic partners, including Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), Cycle Capital and other investors, who join previous investors BDC Capital.
BDC Capital provided seed capital to Netlift in the form of convertible notes after Netlift graduated from the Ecofuel Accelerator program run by Cycle Capital.
The app was originally launched in 2012 in partnership with two Cégeps, Vanier and St-Laurent, in collaboration with the MOBA/Mobilité alternative initiative, which was created in 2001 by the St-Laurent borough to help ease traffic congestion problems for commuters looking to get to school or work from the suburbs.
“After more than two years of technology validation and market testing, we are pleased with the financial and strategic support of major investors such as SDTC, BDC Capital, Cycle Capital and our angel investors,” said Netlift president Marc-Antoine Ducas. “Their support will help us accelerate our transition to the commercialization phase and offer a compelling solution both in Quebec and beyond our borders.”
This investment is both seed capital and a grant, which will allow Netlift to further develop its mobile app for individuals and businesses, to prepare its entry into the Ontario market before the end of 2017.
Netlift’s “multimodal” carpooling mobile app uses a patent-pending algorithm that combines geomatics, optimization and operational research.
Netlift includes an electronic payment platform, which means there is no money exchange between users, and also allows companies to offer the service to their employees.
Companies that already use the service include Bell Canada, the City of Montreal, the Montreal Airport and Montreal area higher education institutions, the Cégep de Saint-Laurent and Vanier College.
The app claims to deliver an improvement in matching rates between passengers and drivers between 25 and 200 times more effective than traditional carpooling systems.
“Netlift has developed a promising technology platform that connects drivers and passengers from the suburbs, helping to improve their access to the city’s public transit network. In addition to contributing to reducing greenhouse gases, Netlift’s multimodal carpooling mobile app offers an effective solution to help alleviate traffic congestion in our cities,” said Andrée-Lise Méthot, Founder and Senior Partner of Cycle Capital. “Netlift is part of a growing trend in connected and intelligent mobility, where such business models have the potential to disrupt the industry while improving the efficiency and accessibility to public transit. We are proud to see that a company that was accompanied in a unique way through the Ecofuel Accelerator and well stimulated by Cycle Capital’s environment, continues to successfully grow to other stages of development.”
Montreal has taken a novel approach to integrating a variety of innovative public transportation initiatives into a single mix, with the Bixi bike sharing program, the city’s normal bus and metro system, the newly created Téo Taxi electric taxi fleet, and the CommuneAuto and Car2Go car sharing services.
As for Uber, its latest counter-proposal to continue operating in Quebec was rejected by the Liberal government. If the government manages to pass that resolution by the end of this week, before the end of the parliamentary session, then Uber will be legally shut down. If the resolution continues to be effectively filibustered, however, Uber will continue to operate on the gray market for the summer, until parliament resumes.