$ 4.5 billion-valued ride-sharing startup Go-Jek may be busy in Southeast Asia, where it is aiming to step into the gap following Uber’s exit, but that isn’t stopping it from looking at opportunities elsewhere in the world.
Over in Bangladesh, motorbike-taxi hailing service Pathao has announced that it raised a “pre-Series A” investment led by Go-Jek. The Indonesian firm first invested in Pathao last year, and it is leading this new deal which includes participation from existing backers Openspace Ventures — which just rebranded from NSI Ventures and is an early Go-Jek backer — Osiris Group and Battery Road Digital Holdings.
The round is undisclosed, but TechCrunch understands from a source that it is more than $10 million. The startup did confirm that its valuation is over $100 million.
CEO Hussain Elius told TechCrunch in an interview that Pathao plans to use the capital to expand to new cities, and continue to build out additional services. The company began offering motorbike taxis on-demand and a logistics service, and it branched out into food delivery this year. Now, Elius said, it is developing a mobile wallet app that he hopes can encourage adoption of digital payments among Bangladesh’s population of over 160 million. That could unlock the door for a move into other verticals in the future.
When you look at the ride-hailing space and the way that companies have used investment to grow their reach — in particular China Didi’s which has invested companies in the U.S., Latin America, India, Europe, the Middle East and Southeast Asia — it’s inevitable to think that Go-Jek’s investment might lead to future opportunities for the company to expand into South Asia.
Not so, says Elius.
“Go-Jek is an inspiration, [but] we are an independent business and not Go-Jek. [Our] market is very different; there are certain things we are doing which they are not. For example, bike financing is something we are exploring.
“They help us learning, but we don’t share any tech; that’s built in-house,” he added with some pride.
Pathao has plenty in common with Go-Jek. The company began in 2015 initially as a courier service latching on to the growth in e-commerce. It expanded to bike taxis — which was seen as a risk, since they aren’t as popular as in places like Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam — and then into cars last year. The move appears to be paying off. Today Pathao claims 50,000 bikes and a team of 500 employees who cover its three cities. It said it handles a million rides and “over hundred thousand deliveries” each month.
Elius said the firm plans to broaden its coverage of Bangladesh — with the potential to reach 25 towns and cities in the future. It is also look to expand into neighboring countries soon, although he isn’t giving away details at this point. One thing for sure is that they will avoid markets where Go-Jek is present, he said. That seems like a smart strategy.