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With ClickBus Investment, Rocket Internet Bets on Buses in Brazil

15 August 2013

(pulsosocial) Rocket Internet is at it again. The vehicle this time around: ClickBus, an online booking platform for bus travel, which commenced operations this week in Brazil.

To get the ball rolling, Rocket Internet has injected R$5 million (about US$2.15 million) into the startup by way of its regional holding company, LIH. The investment will give ClickBus a boost in a sector that isn’t exactly virgin terrain in Brazil, with entities like Aceleratech-backed Brasil by Bus and Wayra pick Chegue.Lá also in the mix.

ClickBus was founded by Eduardo Madeiros and Marcos Sterenkrantz, who originally tested the concept under the name Busao. Recognizing the potential of the model, which developed traction fast, the two realized they were onto something good early on. Rocket Internet did, too, when conversations between the parties commenced in April. “The initial results demonstrated the potential of the business,” Madeiros told Brasil Econômico, adding, “Without a doubt, those initial results helped to convince our partner to make the investment.”

The ClickBus platform works as you’d expect – it aggregates bus travel information and allows users to purchase tickets at the same prices offered by the bus companies themselves (rates are regulated by law). It already offers 3,500 destinations.

As with all Rocket Internet startups, ClickBus has some lofty goals. By the end of next quarter, the company aims to cover 80% of Brazil and sell 1,000 tickets per day. And by the end of the year, the plan is to reach 1.2 million tickets sold. Madeiros affirmed:

Our goal is very clear: to change the way bus tickets are purchased in Brazil. Beyond that, we believe that we’ll expand into Latin America and Asia next quarter, bringing this transformation to other markets around the world.

The Brazilian bus market ClickBus is going after is a sizeable one, moving about R$8 billion (US$3.4 billion) annually – double the country’s air travel sector. However, just 5% of bus tickets are purchased online. With Rocket’s backing, ClickBus stands a fair chance of changing that.