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Zoba, A Harvard Spatial Analytics Startup, Offers Logistics-As-A-Service To All

The age of the on-demand gig economy has allowed consumers to request whatever they need at once. For companies looking to service 21st-century consumers, logistics will be a critical factor in meeting the needs of consumers in a seamless, rapid manner. Joseph, 26, and Daniel Brennan, 30, are working together to build a software-as-a-service (SaaS) forecast demand platform called Zoba. Zoba is a spatial, analytics, and optimization company helping on-demand startups and firms leverage data to meet their logistical and operational needs. The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based startup has raised $3 million to date from CRV, Founder Collective, Mark Cuban, and other individual angels.

The majority of established companies and startups in the on-demand mobility space are not performing high-end logistical work. Logistics based on temporal and spatial constraints and parameters is a tough problem to solve. A satisfactory solution requires the analysis of critical indicators, real-time assessment of inventory to meet demand on a spatial basis, and demand forecasting based on historical data of the usage of your service. Given that most companies do not perform this work in-house, that creates a clear need for a provider like Zoba.

Estimating the market size of such a business is complicated, given the lack of data surrounding the overall or general revenue of logistics services and products. However, the market capitalization or valuation of leading companies and startups, which are primarily driven by or heavily-rely on logistics, can be used as an estimation. Public ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft command are valued at $52.32 billion and $13.61 billion (at the time of this writing), respectively. Private micro-mobility startups like Lime and Bird obtain valuations at $2.4 billion and $2.5 billion, respectively. Given that all of these services’ core functionality is dependent on efficient logistics, a company like Zoba could realistically become a standalone, public business generating on the order of $100M+ in revenue per year.

Zoba has built an application programming interface (API) to integrate seamlessly into a company’s tech stack to access their datasets and stream service usage statistics. From those two stores of data, as well as external data Zoba provides, the startup can instantly produce real-time demand forecasting and their resulting operational decisions.

“We augment the internal data from the companies with a variety of external sources—such as live and forecasted weather conditions,” Joseph says.

The startup states they can operate at scale from “day one.” The company designs its machine learning algorithms around critical indicators of the business they are servicing that correlate with increased demand. The algorithms train on data generated from the customer’s operations, which then produce insights. These insights are translated to the customer for them to implement immediately into their business. The startup’s business model is based on metered access to its services. The problem, market opportunity, and product require a strong team to exploit fully.

The Brennan brothers combine to make a strong team to tackle the problem of logistics in the on-demand shared mobility space. Joseph comes from a data-driven research background, having earned his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University. He worked as a research assistant under former Yale professor Nikolas Christakis at Yale and former presidential adviser David Gergen at the Harvard Kennedy School. Daniel served in the Marine Corps for five years, with his tours of duty, including operational stints in Baghdad, before obtaining a Master’s degree from Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He had come to understand how a city moves and “breathes,” learning how prediction could make cities more efficient. These two realize how Zoba can harness the power of logistics in helping individuals effortlessly move around their city.

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