Internal combustion engines still rule when it comes to powering cars, but there are signs that they are slowly fading into oblivion, at least in some markets. The will of Sweden, Denmarkand the UK plans to ban sales of diesel and petrol cars by the end of the decade, while markets like Australia and California make moves too in that direction, albeit at a slower pace.
Part of this process will have to include making it easier for both consumers and businesses to move to electrification, for example by expanding access to charging stations for electric vehicles (EVs), as the US recently announced as part of its $1 trillion infrastructure bill. But companies also need help acquiring and operating their EV fleets — and this is where a new startup called Papaya will play its part.
Papaya’s software, which was soft-launched in February, is designed to help fleet managers find and manage electric or light-electric vehicles (LEVs), solving something that co-founder and CEO Santi Ureta says is usually “very fragmented and opaque”. And to take things to the next level, the London-based company announced today that it has raised $3.5 million from a slew of institutional and angel investors.
For context, there is already no shortage of vehicle management systems, from Automile and Fleet control until webfleet, but Papaya hopes to differentiate itself with its particular industry focus on smaller EVs likely to be used by last-mile delivery companies and the like. It’s about solving very specific pain points, reducing fragmentation and serving as one platform for everyone to connect and communicate.
“Nobody really connects all sides of the market like we do, and also builds the tools they need to better manage the relationship,” Ureta told australiabusinessblog.com.
Ureta and Papaya’s CTO co-founder Renato Serra both have experience working at companies where transport and logistics are critical to their bottom line, including European food delivery giant Deliveroo and fast-acting unicorn Gopuff. And this experience was what proved the origin of Papaya.
“We realized firsthand that buying an electric vehicle fleet is difficult and managing it efficiently is even more difficult,” says Ureta. “Managing a hybrid electric vehicle fleet with today’s software tools is impossible to do in one place.”
One of the problems Papaya wants to solve is the complexity of multimodality: electric fleets require different types of vehicles for different usage situations. For example, an e-van may be more suitable for large-scale grocery delivery, while a cargo bike or e-bike may be sufficient for food delivery. And for every type of vehicle, there is a whole range of different suppliers, maintenance companies and other service providers to keep everything running and in order.
Papaya essentially connects the dots between the fleet managers (e.g. Gopuff or Deliveroo) and service providers, including vehicle suppliers (e.g. Gopuff or Deliveroo). Hop or Otto), maintenance providers (e.g., fettle or cycledelik), insurance companies (e.g Laka or Zego), or even storage areas designed to house and charge EVs (such as Reef or Infinium Logistics)
“Every provider has their legacy systems – Google Forms, spreadsheets, emails, or clunky fleet management tools – and the fleet has to interact with all of these tools to report incidents and maintain their availability, which makes it really difficult and inefficient,” says Ureta. . “Papaya centralizes all these different processes and tools in a single operating system, giving the fleet full visibility, accountability and transparency about the status of their vehicles and managing all their relationships in the same place.”
In its original guise, Papaya was mainly about enabling the management of existing EVs and LEVs, but its overarching goal is to help companies transition from traditional fossil-fuel vehicles to zero-emission alternatives. And so, the company is gearing up to launch its vehicle marketplace, which will serve as a single channel for fleet managers to purchase EVs and LEVs and all related services.
“You Could See It” [the marketplace] as a way for vehicle suppliers and service providers to showcase their products and services to fleets, in the regions in which they operate,” explained Ureta, adding that he expects the market to be launched by the end of the year.” Papaya will make it much easier for companies to buy and manage EVs – this will accelerate the transition from combustion engine fleets to EV fleets.”
Papaya is already live in five markets, including the UK, Spain, France, Germany and Estonia. And in its short life to date, the company has already amassed an impressive number of customers, including the aforementioned Gopuff (currently valued at $15 billion) and parcel delivery giant. evric.
Gopuff uses Papaya to communicate with all vehicles in their fleet, track availability and costs, and manage incidents as they occur, according to Ureta.
“Gopuff uses Papaya as the main vehicle management system – they have all their vehicles on the platform and their main service providers on the other side,” Ureta said. “The platform is used by multiple actors, from drivers to hub operators, fleet managers and heads of operations.”
In addition to purchasing and managing EVs, like other vehicle management systems, Papaya is also substantively about generating data and gaining insights into everything that is happening in a fleet at any given time.
A quick look at the data reveals that Papaya is on to something. The European Commission (EC) has focused on a 90% reduction in transport emissions by 2050, while last-mile logistics currently accounts for about 5% of a company’s emissions in its supply chain – but as e-commerce is only going up, this figure is likely to increase. Indeed, the World Economic Forum suggests that the number of vans in the top 100 cities will increase by 36% by 2030, while emissions from traffic will grow with it.
In short, if the world has any hope of meeting lofty climate targets, it must tackle the emissions problem. And this is what lies at the heart of Papaya’s growth plans – the company’s new $3.5 million investment ushered in a host of backers including Giant Ventures, Seedcamp, 20VC, FJ Labs, Flexport, Cocoa, Sir Richard’s family Branson (specifically: Freddie Andrewes and Holly Branson, who manages the family fund), Glovo co-founder Oscar Pierre and former australiabusinessblog.com journalist Steve O’Hear.
The company said it plans to use its cash injection to “build Europe’s largest electric vehicle ecosystem and decarbonize Europe’s fleets.”