In December last year Vostok New Ventures (VNV), a major Swedish investment firm operating internationally, invested $4.5 million in online bus ticketing platform Busfor, in addition to the $4 million it had injected in the company in mid-2018.
The latest transaction was revealed Wednesday by business daily Kommersant, based on VNV’s latest financial report and exchanges with Busfor’s founder Ilya Yekushevsky.
Busfor — previously known as Gillbus — aims to change what has been mostly a grey and offline market so far. Launched in Ukraine in 2010, the company is now headquartered in Poland. It operates in Belarus, Georgia, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Thailand, Tanzania, Rwanda, Iceland and several countries of the EU, according to its website.
The company claims to partner with more 700 bus transport companies, and hopes to sell more than 10 million tickets in 2019. According to Yekushevsky, the number of sold tickets already tripled in 2018.
The average ticket price amounts to $22, with Busfor getting a 15% fee on each sale, reported Kommersant last year, citing company data.
The bus transportation market in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union amounts to some $9 billion, with online ticket sales accounting for just 2%-5% in 2018. Busfor believes online sales will grow to some 30% by 2022, and aims to control a third of this volume.
Since its inception in Ukraine in 2010, Busfor has received financial support from Intel Capital, InVenture Partners and FinSight in 2014, from Ukraine’s Chernovetskyi Investment Group (CIG) in 2015, then from Baring Vostok and Elbrus Capital in 2016. In November last year InVenture Partners sold its share to Baring Vostok and Elbrus Capital.
Previously known as Vostok Nafta Investment, VNV has been one of the most active international players on the Russian venture market. Its most brilliant investment decision was to bet on Avito.ru at the early stages. The Russian classifieds giant was fully acquired by Naspers at a $3.85 billion valuation just weeks ago.
Among the firm’s other present or past portfolio companies from Russia are Onetwotrip, in which VNV injected $2 million OneTwoTrip “in an internal financing round,” according to the financial report; DOC+, in which the firm has just invessted $9 million, and Yell.ru.