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Meet AtoB, The $100 Million-Backed Fintech Transforming Transportation

Startup Spotlights
Vignan Velivela has spent a lot of time hanging out at truck stops. It’s not exactly where he thought he’d spend the majority of his early days building San Francisco-based AtoB. When he cofounded AtoB alongside Harshita Arora and Tushar Misra in September 2019, the idea was to fix the city’s transportation issues with better buses (think the type of shuttles Google and Facebook used to get workers to their campuses).

The trajectory of AtoB drastically changed when, only a few months later, the pandemic effectively ended the commute as we know it. But the experience of growing a transportation network quickly highlighted the lack of technology in the transportation industry. Companies like Square and Stripe weren’t optimized to streamline things like fuel payments, fleet maintenance and payroll – so Vignan decided to build a company tailored to the transportation industry’s needs.

The pivot was fortuitous for AtoB. Today, it’s one of the fastest-growing fintech startups with 90 employees and over $100 million in funding from Y Combinator, General Catalyst, Marc Benioff and others. It also landed the company a spot on the 2022 Startup Search Fintech List.

Ahead of AtoB joining Fintech Fair 2022, a recruiting event for today’s top fintechs [APPLY NOW], Startup Search spoke with Vignan for a look into what makes AtoB so unique, as well as what the future holds for the rapidly growing company.

Top Jobs At AtoB

What’s exciting about building fintech for transportation vs. more traditional industries?

Payments are a mature and solved problem in the startup world. I don't mean to offend anyone who is doing fintech in the startup community, but the products are much more mature, frictionless, and cost efficient. In the transportation world, which is a trillion-dollar industry, it's still stuck in the 1990s.

About 90% of the industry is small businesses – mom and pop companies across Idaho, Montana and elsewhere. It's a truly all American industry not centered around cities, but spread across rural areas. So the products we are building are with that end application in mind. Our north star is helping those small businesses most hit by the lack of technology.

What was missing from transportation’s payment infrastructure?

We used to talk to truck drivers about this all day long – learning from the frontline of the industry. It was foundational because everything we took for granted about how payments worked for truck drivers in the real world was wrong. Whether it’s fuel payments, payroll or fleet maintenance… all of them were running on completely different networks. There’s a very legacy nature of these networks, they have all sorts of problems.

When we asked why trucking companies don’t move to a modern, streamlined credit card product, they said it’s because they have very specific requirements different from traditional customers. The main problems they most encountered are the high cost and fraud, as well as the low-quality reliability for drivers on the road. Whether they're trucking companies or everyday mail delivery, we’re helping fleets pay for their fuel, pay for their drivers and all the expenses along the way.

How would you describe AtoB’s culture?

I think there are two qualities we primarily assess in people: we want people that are both smart and kind. The reason for that is we are building a complex engineering product that deals with payments and banks and credit card networks – there’s no real playbook that you can copy and say ‘this is how we build it.’ You have to be creative with how you approach these problems and resourceful in solving them. We are looking for people who can think through context problems, break it down to simple units and be scrappy to test them fast.

The second thing is we want to grow as a team and being kind is part of the value system we are building. Learning from each other, helping each other out: being a good team member is equally important.

Why’s now an exciting time to join AtoB?

This is an important problem to solve and we cannot think small on how we are solving it. One of the most important trends we have seen is the growth of ecommerce. The direct result of that growth is the growth of logistics and particularly last mile and local logistics. There is no organized technology company that is focused around transformation and solving for multiple problems that these businesses have. This is an essential part of modern living and, frankly, modern civilization.

We see this as a decade-defining opportunity to work on foundational problems that have real world impact. The metric we measure of our success is the success of small businesses. We want to see that end user of a small business or truck driver delivering your packages is succeeding by using our product. Next, we’ll be expanding beyond just the US, to Canada and Mexico and, in the near future, to Western Europe.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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