Zeelo CEO Sam Ryan Earns Prestigious Industry Award for Second Consecutive Year

We are thrilled to announce that Zeelo’s CEO, Sam Ryan, has been named European CEO of the Year for the second year running.
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We are thrilled to announce that Zeelo’s CEO, Sam Ryan, has been named European CEO of the Year for the second year running. This prestigious award recognizes his exceptional leadership and the remarkable growth Zeelo has achieved under his guidance.

Sam's journey is truly inspiring. In 2022, he was honoured as one of Forbes' 30 Under 30 and recognized in the US in 2023 as one of the Association for Commuter Transportation 40 Under 40, highlighting his significant influence in the transportation sector.

Under Sam’s steadfast stewardship, Zeelo has seen remarkable expansion and innovation. Last year, Sam and co-founder Barney took a leap across the pond to spearhead our rapid US expansion, marking a major milestone in our global growth strategy. The H1’24 acquisition of Kura, a UK leader in the managed transport sector, has since further strengthened our service offering and market position, with the combined businesses now boasting the largest virtual bus operation in the UK, with over 220 customers, 450 operator partners and 40,000 daily riders using the service.

Additionally, Zeelo's impressive growth trajectory has been recognized by the Financial Times, where we ranked #118 on the FT 1000 Fastest Growing Companies in Europe list. We also achieved a notable position at #35 on the Sifted100 leaderboard, showcasing our rapid development and success in the tech and startup ecosystem.

To give you more insight into the vision and driving force behind Zeelo, we sat down with Sam for a Q&A:

1. What career accomplishment are you most proud of and why?

Reading our annual ESG impact report: it's extremely rewarding to lead a double-bottom-line business. We are laser-focused on building a large and profitable business, but we're fortunate enough that every dollar we add positively impacts our riders, clients, operators, drivers, and the communities where they live.

2. How do you envision the industry changing between now and 2030?

It's crazy that I'm saying this in 2024, but there is still a huge amount of digitization that needs to happen in the transportation industry. Fleet utilisation is low and this inefficient allocation of resources and route planning leaves so many people cut off from affordable, reliable, and dependable transportation. The use of technology and data can help transportation networks adapt, bringing affordable and convenient services to more people and providing much-needed accessibility and stability.

3. How do you foresee Zeelo evolving between where the company is today and 2030?

We've built a profitable Enterprise Transit market leader in the UK & Ireland but we're only just getting started - so we intend to double down and build something meaningful there. In the US, we intend to leverage the foundations we've built over the last two years to aggressively scale up the team and capture the large market opportunities that exist. Beyond that, we see opportunities to license our proprietary technology platform, as well as play an active role in transitioning our operator partner fleets to fully electric buses.

4. How have your past experiences shaped the successful leader you have become & how has your leadership style evolved over time?

Our business changes so much on a month-to-month basis; and meaningfully so every 6 months. That means that the leader I need to be changes materially every 6 months. When you overlay the pandemic and economic headwinds, all founders and leaders have had to learn how to be both wartime and peacetime leaders. I've had to build my resilience and learn to ride the ups and downs so I can intentionally lead the business through whatever phase we're in. Beyond that, I've spent a lot of time working on what “good” looks like as a startup founder vs. a scale-up CEO.

5. Looking back, if you had one piece of advice to give to yourself just starting out what would it be?

Be a sponge and be a cockroach.

Sam’s visionary leadership continues to drive Zeelo’s success, and we are excited about what the future holds for our company and the wider transportation industry. Congratulations again Sam on this well-deserved recognition!

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