Spare Labs chief operating officer Josh Andrews (left), CEO Kristoffer Vik Hansen (centre) and chief technology officer Alexey Indeev
The company has been steadily growing and innovating since it was founded in 2015
When Kristoffer Vik Hansen, Josh Andrews and Alexey Indeev met 10 years ago at UBC, they set out on a fairly ambitious venture.
“We were trying to be the first team in the world that could cross the Atlantic Ocean with a fully autonomous self-driving boat,” Vik Hansen remembers with a laugh. “It was a fun little university project that eventually led to us starting Spare about four years later.”
Vancouver-based Spare, founded in 2015, is an online platform that lets providers launch and manage their microtransit, paratransit and ride-hailing services in a way that actually serves customers instead of sending buses down the same fixed route.
One of the early participants in Ryan Holmes and Meredith Powell’s Next Big Thing incubator, the firm bootstrapped itself with only a couple of employees until 2019. That’s when the founders put together a $6-million fundraising round and started grabbing big-name customers left and right, like Mitsubishi, Toyota and Dallas Area Rapid Transit.
Two years later, Spare has announced an oversubscribed Series A fundraising round of $18 million, led by Inovia Capital and supported by a host of others, including Kensington Capital, LinkVC, Ramen Ventures, Ridge Ventures, Japan Airlines (as JAL Innovation Fund) and Nicola Wealth.
The main goal will be to expand Spare’s employee count of 50—most of whom are based in Vancouver—in a big way.
“We should be able to double or triple by next year; that’s the current plan,” says Vik Hansen, noting that the company intends to add a hub location in Toronto. “The grand product vision is about being able to be the underlying technology to make transportation vastly more efficient. And bringing significant technology improvements to a lot of the transportation providers that are out there.”
Odds are good that Spare will keep pushing along, kind of like that autonomous boat in the Atlantic.
“It made it across the ocean—if it made it across the ocean in our control or not, that’s a different question,” Vik Hansen says with a laugh. “It was mostly floating through half the ocean. It did make it to Europe, though.”