Several years ago, Nitin Gupta needed help. His mother had gone into shock and Gupta immediately called 911, summoning paramedics to his Mountain View, California, apartment complex.
“Five or six minutes into my call they arrived at the building, but I couldn’t leave my mother alone [to guide them to the apartment] and it took them 15 minutes to find my unit,” he related to Modern Shipper in a recent interview.
Fortunately, Gupta’s mother survived and is doing well today. Reflecting on the experience, though, led Gupta down a new path in life. Having gained valuable experience working as a software engineer at Uber and also having spent time at Google, Gupta understood the power of technology. Together with co-founder and friend Akash Agarwal, who had worked at a startup acquired by Yahoo, the pair sought a way to map the final few feet for emergency personnel and delivery providers.
“We should really fix this [problem] because the stats say that a minute [matters],” Gupta said. “Fifteen minutes means you’re talking life and death.”
The co-founders announced a $17 million investment round in their venture, Beans.ai, Thursday. Led by Saama Capital and Google veteran Amit Singhal, with participation from Venture Highway, Mubadala Capital and industry veterans Brian McClendon and Manik Gupta, among others, Beans.ai is mapping the final destinations of packages, working with companies like Uber Eats, Instacart, FedEx Ground, OnTrac and Nestle Waters Direct to provide those key delivery instructions such as which door to enter the building or even where in a complex the correct building is located.
Beans.ai offerings include:
- Beans Maps+: Hyper-accurate location information for apartments, condos, hospitals and universities, along with access codes, parking locations and other important information to access a destination.
- Beans Route: Logistics app and platform to simplify dispatch, improve operations and manage driver schedules. Beans Route comes with preexisting integrations for safety, fleet, telematics and insurance management.
- Beans Optimize: A fast dynamic route planning engine that provides for unlimited customization in route sequencing, route planning and assisted dispatch.
Gupta said the company has already mapped about 65% of the U.S. and handled approximately 2% of the U.S. last-mile logistics volume last year. He said the issue for many delivery providers and emergency personnel is simply that Google Maps can get them to the location, but not the precise location.
“Downtowns have a very different kind of problem,” he said. “Finding the right unit is not the problem, you find the building and walk in and you are probably going to meet the doorman.”
It is the apartment complexes, college campuses and office complexes where multiple buildings exist and the correct delivery point may not be obvious.
“There is a lack of complete standardization of addresses,” Agarwal, who serves as chief business officer, said. “The current technologies – GPS and location data – are not solving the problem because it is not accurate [to that level].”
Gupta added, “For bigger complexes, the problem is more [buildings]. You can have building 1 and building 20 sitting next to each other. You also have to find the right parking and access points.”
Few of these locations have been mapped, and that also includes malls, which are handling an increasing number of e-commerce packages that providers must pick up for last-mile delivery.
Agarwal said Beans.ai is working to collect as much information as it can on properties, including where cars or vans can park and where items should be delivered, noting that some buildings may require packages be left at the office while others may have different drop-off locations.
“Customer experience is critical for any company,” Agarwal said. “You could be a telecom operator, a food delivery service or a package delivery company, and chances are that over 20% of your customers are getting inconsistent service because they live in hard-to-find addresses where traditional maps and data services fail. We have solved that.”
The company said that delivery drivers using its micro-mapping platform are able to make 20% more deliveries per hour due to time savings achieved on each delivery. Companies using the platform have seen 15% less driver churn, and drivers report 70% higher satisfaction with their jobs, Beans.ai said.
“Navigating the last mile of delivery is an incredibly complex problem to solve,” said Brian McClendon, CEO and co-founder of CVKey Project and formerly vice president at Google, where he built Google Earth, Google Maps and similar applications. “By combining data collected from ground ops with machine learning algorithms, the Beans.ai team have introduced efficiency into logistics solutions that were previously unattainable.”
Beans.ai currently has 21 U.S. employees and about 60 in India. Gupta said its product is available in the U.S. and Canada at this time, but the funding round will help it expand internationally as well as complete mapping in the U.S.