Uber for Kids: HopSkipDrive Brings in $37M

Kristin Snyder

Kristin Snyder is an editorial intern for dot.la. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.

Man and child riding in car
Courtesy of HopSkipDrive

In a Series D funding round, youth transportation startup HopSkipDrive raised $37 million to continue modernizing school transit.

The round was led by Energy Impact Partners, Keyframe Capital, FirstMark Capital, Alumni Ventures and Transform Capital. Having partnered with 400 school districts across 12 states, the Los Angeles-based company will use the cash infusion to build out its RideIQ platform, expand to new markets and reach more school districts.


“This funding fuels our path toward achieving our vision of a modern school transportation system, one that is safe, equitable, efficient and resourced to give kids the opportunities they deserve with both in school and after-school activities,” HopSkipDrive co-founder and CEO Joanna McFarland said in a statement.

Launched in 2014 with the intention to provide transit options for young people, HopSkipDrive’s RideIQ offers ride visibility for on-demand or pre-planned rides. Rides can service groups or individuals, and routes are optimized to focus on underserviced areas, allowing traditional bus drivers to pick up students along the busiest paths.

Replacing underutilized bus routes with smaller vehicles can help reduce the carbon footprint of school transportation, McFarland told dot.LA in an email. While efforts to electrify school bus fleets are in progress, replacing large vehicles with individual cars can quicken that process and allow hybrid or EV cars to service less busy regions.

“School transportation is not sustainable, especially considering the inefficiencies in current capacity utilization,” McFarland said. “A diesel bus filled with students may balance environmental impact with efficiency, but a mostly empty diesel bus is inefficient and harmful to the environment.”

A HopSkipDrive survey found that 88% of school districts are experiencing bus driver shortages; the company partners with schools to provide alternate transportation options. The company launched in Detroit last month and plans to partner with more school districts this year. It currently services the Seattle and Denver public school systems.

Last year, HopSkipDrive used a $25 million raise to launch in 30 new markets and won startup of the year at dot.LA's second annual startup awards.

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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AmazeVR Wants You To Attend K-Pop Concerts Virtually

Kristin Snyder

Kristin Snyder is an editorial intern for dot.la. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.

AmazeVR Wants You To Attend K-Pop Concerts Virtually
Photo courtesy of AmazeVR

Virtual reality startup AmazeVR now has $17 million to further expand its VR concert experience.

The West Hollywood-based company’s latest funding amounts to a bet that virtual shows, a staple of the pandemic, are here to stay. Mirae Asset Capital led the Series B funding round, with Mirae Asset Financial Group subsidiary (Mirae Asset Venture Investment), CJ Investment, Smilegate Investment, GS Futures and LG Technology Ventures investing again. Mobile game maker Krafton joined the group—but South Korean entertainment company CJ ENM’s stake reveals AmazeVR’s plans to expand into K-pop world.

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