Google A.I. Fund Leads $7M Boost For Boston Route Logistics Startup

Xconomy Boston — 

Google’s A.I.-focused fund Gradient Ventures has made its second Boston-area investment by leading a $7 million Series A round for autonomous dispatch and routing software startup Wise Systems.

Wise was founded in 2014 by a group of MIT and Harvard graduates. The company says it uses machine learning to autonomously direct delivery operations by melding traditional route efficiency tools with day-of variables such as weather, traffic, closed loading docks, parking limitations, and package types.

“Traditional route optimization is a hard problem—the ‘traveling salesman problem,’ as it’s known in the industry,” co-founder and CEO Chazz Sims tells Xconomy in an email. “Figuring out the most optimal (efficient and on-time) way to deliver thousands of packages or products across a city with 40 drivers on a daily basis would be difficult even if every recipient location, package, or product was exactly the same. In reality there are dramatic differences in every one of those deliveries.”

What’s more, e-commerce continues its relentless growth, and customer experience expectations are also on the rise, putting companies under “new levels of pressure” to make deliveries on time with customers constantly observing the process through package-tracking features, says Sims (who is pictured above second from the right).

Wise differs from traditional route optimization systems—which set static routes monthly or annually—by constantly updating to adjust to the day-of conditions that could delay a delivery. Sims says customers have seen a decrease in late deliveries of up to 80 percent after switching to the Wise platform.

Wise’s clients include beverage giant Anheuser-Busch (NYSE: BUD), which uses Wise for its U.S. wholesalers, and Dallas-based ride-hailing startup Bubbl, which focuses on transporting children, special needs families, and seniors. Wise says its system is in use in over 50 areas and by thousands of drivers.

The $7 million in funding pushed Wise’s total amount raised to $8.5 million. Earlier investors E14 Fund, Neoteny, Trucks Venture Capital, and Fontinalis Partners joined Gradient Ventures in the Series A round. Gradient Ventures made its first Boston investment in A.I. bookkeeping startup Botkeeper in late November.