How Populus Helps Cities Deal With Shared Mobility Operators

By Amit Chowdhry ● March 22, 2019

Populus — a company founded by Regina Clewlow, Ph.D. (CEO) and Fletcher Foti (CTO) — helps cities and private mobility providers deliver safer, efficient, and equitable streets through actionable data. And the Populus Mobility Manager platform integrates real-time data from multiple operators in order to extract learnings.

This data helps city planners view where people park and ride scooters and bikes in order to determine where to set up scooter parking and dedicated lanes. Currently, Populus works with Washington D.C. and the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles. Plus Populus also offers real-time data from ride-sharing companies for informing curbside management and pricing. And several months ago, Populus partnered with Lime to set up a data sharing program for the LimePod car-sharing service.

Before working in the mobility industry, Clewlow received her Ph.D. in transportation and energy systems from MIT. And she worked as a research scientist at Stanford, UC Berkeley, and UC Davis where she developed and led research on the travel behavior impacts of shared mobility services. Prior to launching Populus, Clewlow was the director of business development and strategy at moovel and was the director of transportation research and policy at RideScout (acquired by Daimler/moovel).

And Foti is also known as the co-founder and lead developer of MapCraft.io — which is a web platform for testing the impact of public policy on social and economic outcomes. Plus Foti worked as chief data scientist of a UC Berkeley-founded urban data science startup called Synthicity that got acquired by Autodesk in 2015.

“One of the key issues that cities face around mobility services (in general), is that these services are arriving faster than most cities can keep up,” said Populus CEO and co-founder Regina Clewlow via TechCrunch. “They are fundamentally changing transportation choices and travel patterns in ways that are unpredictable and unmeasured, making it very difficult for cities to design and manage public infrastructure (a job that only they can do). With access to better data and more importantly, information, we are finding that our customers, such as Arlington County in the D.C. area, are able to design infrastructure that can help shared mobility services grow safely and sustainably – such as new bike lanes and scooter corrals.”


Populus CEO and co-founder Regina Clewlow – Photo via LinkedIn

To fuel the growth of the company Populus recently raised $3.1 million in seed funding from Precursor Ventures, Relay Ventures and several others. Including this round, Populus has raised $3.85 million in total funding.

“Over the past decade we have seen an explosion of shared mobility services,” added Precursor Ventures Managing Partner Charles Hudson in a statement. “In order to fulfill their promises of delivering safer, equitable, and efficient streets, shared mobility operators will require platform partners like Populus to facilitate their continued growth. The Populus team’s deep technical and industry expertise are unparalleled. They’ve dedicated their careers to solving the worlds biggest urban problems, and they are building a game-changing platform that will transform the future of cities.”

Populus’ core product launched in September 2018. At that time Clewlow and Foti were working on software that was helping the Bay Area regional transportation agency predict the next 30 years of travel. While working on that project, the two of them learned how cities were struggling to understand all of the new modes of transportation.