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It’s the classic startup question: to raise funding, or not to raise funding?

In Zap-Map’s case, the answer in the early days was fairly straightforward.

Spun out as a separate brand from Next Green Car when the chargepoint map became the most popular page on its website, a future of 100% electric vehicles – now planned for 2030 – seemed very remote.

Until we got our first seed funding, in 2019, we effectively bootstrapped the company from advertising revenue from Next Green Car,” explains COO and co-founder Melanie Shufflebotham to TechBlast.

In retrospect, I probably would have gone for funding sooner. However, it might have been difficult to engage funders on the size of the market at that point. 

“It was a little bit of a ‘chicken and egg’ situation.”

Zapmap – search for EV charging points, plan journeys and pay for charging with Zapmap.


Next Green Car, a database to compare the environmental impact of vehicles, is no more. But Zap-Map is racing following £9 million of Series A funding from Good Energy and Fleetcor UK Acquisition last year.

Fleetcor processes billions of electronic transactions a year and recorded annual revenue of $2.8 billion in 2021. The strategic investment built on an existing partnership which saw Fleetcor’s Allstar Business Solutions integrated into Zap-Map’s Zap-Pay product, which is designed to make EV charging payment simple.


“When that 2030 legislation came in, that was a signal to the market that it was going to happen. But even in 2019 it still felt quite early,” continues Shufflebotham. “Our numbers were decent, but they weren’t huge, whereas now we’ve nearly got a million downloads so anyone can see that there’s a market and that we have a great share of that.”

Zap-Map is the UK’s leading app and digital platform for EV drivers to search for available chargepoints, plan longer electric journeys, pay for charging and share updates with other EV drivers. On top of its core services, which are free, Zap-Map Premium offers enhanced features and filters, and incorporates the Zap-Map app into a user’s in-car dashboard – allowing them to safely access live chargepoint data, route plans and link to navigation apps.


The Bristol-based company starred on our sister publication BusinessCloud’s TransportTech 50 ranking late last year. “We were six people when we got our first investment. Then we went to 12, then to 20 – and now we’re at about 50,” says Shufflebotham.

“On one level, I think bootstrapping a company is really important – you have to have that balance between product development and revenue. But on the flip side, your focus isn’t just on developing the product; you also have to survive. 

“So I think if the market is mature enough, I would go for funding sooner.”

Zap-Map was able to grow organically during its first seven years by making effective B2B partnerships and building a loyal customer base of early EV adopters.

“We got into the broader value chain, so people knew about us: we had a value proposition for the installers; had energy companies promote us; and also the dealers – all of these different organisations are brand advocates,” she explains.

Go for it – how to grow a £168m turnover company

Scaling advice

Asked for advice on scaling a startup, she answers: “Set yourself up in a structured way because you need to be ready when investment comes along. You need to have employment contracts; all of your business contracts need to be 100% squeaky clean; thinking about the IP early on is important as well. 

Co-founders Shufflebotham and Dr Ben Lane, CTO, were joined by CEO Richard Bourne at the start of 2021 as well as the likes of Jade Edwards, who heads up the data insights team.

“Employ the best people you can,” advises the COO. “Originally, we weren’t able to get the middle management layer in place, but we have that now.

“In the beginning you feel that everything is either in your head or you’re training up people – and then as you grow, you can then employ people who bring new ideas, take things on themselves, and take it further than you could have taken it – which I think has been really, really good for us.

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