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Zendrive taps into smartphone sensors to track driving behavior. It's collision detection system will send a text message if the driver is in an accident. Courtesy of Zendrive

BMW and Sherpa Just Invested in This Safe Driving Tech Startup

Feb 04, 2016

Zendrive, a San Francisco data analytics company that uses smartphone sensors to monitor driver behavior including phone use and texting, has raised $13.5 million.

The Series A funding round was led by Shervin Pishevar of Sherpa Capital, the same firm that has invested in ride-hailing app Uber and online used car startup Beepi. Nyca Partners, Thomvest Ventures, and existing investors First Round Capital, BMW i Ventures, Bill Ford's firm Fontinalis Partners, and Tad Montross also participated in the round.

Total funding received to-date is $15 million. The funds will be used to hire more staff and further develop the product. Zendrive has 35 employees and plans to double its staff by the end of 2016, a spokeswoman said.

What Uber did for the ride-sharing market:

Zendrive, which was founded by Google and Facebook alums, taps into smartphone sensors to monitor speeding, distracted or aggressive driving, phone use, texting, traffic infractions, and even collisions. It's the kind of tool that comes in handy for worried parents, ride-share companies, or any business that has a fleet of vehicles.

Online driver education company eDriving uses Zendrive's tech in a mobile app that sends parents a text message if their teen is in a crash. The company's other service ZenFleets provides driver data to ridesharing, valet, and car-sharing app companies.

HopSkipDrive, Kidzjet, and Shuddle, which provide on-demand rides for kids, use Zendrive's tech. Other apps that utilize its technology include on-demand road assistance app Urgent.ly and HyreCar, an app that helps car owners rent out their vehicles to Uber drivers.

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Numerous startups including Automatic and Zubie have developed devices that plug into the vehicle's diagnostic port to track driving habits and car data. Zendrive just uses software to tap into the smartphone, technology it argues is more affordable and less vulnerable to hackers than a hardware device.

Investor Pishevar, who co-founded Sherpa Capital, is certainly a believer. "This team has introduced the first significant driver and passenger safety innovation since airbags,” Pishevar said in a statement.

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