HopSkipDrive Fundraising Doubles, Fueling its Expansion

Published on February 6, 2020

HopSkipDrive is an L.A, kids ride-sharing company; solving the lack of safe transportation for school districts and families, announced it raised $22 million in funding to fuel its expansion.

HopSkipDrive is Using the Funds to Expand

Co-founder and CEO Joanna McFarland told dot.LA, “the capital will really help us expand to more markets and service as many kids as we can.”

The company expanded to Las Vegas and partnered with Clark County Child Welfare Services in January. Helping kids get to school.

And upon launching, HopeSkipDrive’s vice president of strategic development, Qiana Patterson, said so far the launch has been good and is offering fosters kids stability, which is important to them. 

“The response has been really good,” Patterson said. “If you removed, let’s say, five kids on Sunday from their home and place them in an emergency shelter or a location with a caregiver, to get them to school the next day it’s really hard for a government agency to be able to respond quickly. One thing important to foster kids is to have that stability … Our work in Vegas and other regions provides that.”

According to county documents, the Clark County commissioner approved a year long contract for $250,000 in December 2019, with a potential yearly contract over a four year stretch worth $1.25 million. 

Solving Lack of School Transportation

HopSkipDrive is allowing school districts to reduce the transportation cost for school districts.

The service helps by transporting kids to areas outside of standard bus routes so the district does not need to add additional routes. This means money is put back into classrooms.

Leigh Cook, Director of Federal Programs and Academic Compliance at Keller Independent School District in Dallas-Fort Worth says, “[HopSkipDrive] helps reduce the district’s overall transportation costs [and] helps shorten commute times – meaning less time in transit and more time learning.”

And Los Angeles Department of Child and Family Services Education Specialist Tina Garcia says the company is helping kids “attend their school of origin” which can be “the most stability [foster youth] have.” And without HopSkipDrive it would be impossible.

Ride-sharing Safety Concerns

But the industry’s security is a big issue, considering kidnappings and other incidents of people being assaulted frequently makes headlines. 

Which is why Uber and Lyft’s company policies instruct drivers to not pick up passengers under 18 years old. For safety reasons.

So, parents question the safety of kid ride-sharing companies like HopSkipDrive, Zum, VanGo, Kango and similar companies.

To address parents’ safety concerns, HopSkipDrive implemented a 15-point certification CareDriver vetting process, making it a first of its kind. And according to the company, “this process leads the industry and is still the most rigorous driver vetting process for childe rideshare, or any rideshare.”

And its Safe Ride Support technology “enables real-time ride monitoring and anomaly detection so that parents, schools and Safe Ride Support team always have full visibility and can proactively address any situation live and in real-time.”

The verification process includes county, state and national criminal record checks, FBI-approved finger-printing background checks and at least five years of caregiving experience. And since care-giving is required, 90% of drivers are females.

But the added safety measure comes at a high price. The cost for a HopSkipDrive is $17 plus $1.50 per mile and 50 cents per minute. While Zum charges $19.50 for single rides.

The ride-sharing company says having a diverse team of investors is important “and looks to increase the amount of funding going toward female founders.”

Cyrus Capital Partners, State Farm Ventures are just some of the many investors.

Kevin Pichinte is a staff writer at Grit Daily. Based in Los Angeles, he is a news associate at ABC7 and was formerly a digital news intern at NBC7 and TLM20. At Grit Daily, he covers entertainment and culture news.

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