ClickBus is on the move. The Brazilian bus ticketing platform has announced plans to expand into two new markets: Mexico and Germany.
This announcement comes less than two months after ClickBus revealed a R$5 million (around US$2.15 million) investment from Rocket Internet’s regional holding company, LIH. Given Rocket’s penchant for doing business aggressively, this fast move to expand shouldn’t come as a surprise. The same can’t exactly be said for the chosen locales.
Mexico is certainly a more obvious choice, sharing a number of traits with Brazil. “Mexico has a market very similar to the Brazilian one,” remarked Marcos Sterenkrantz, Co-founder and Co-CEO of ClickBus. “A lack of infrastructure combined with a huge population creates a scenario in which people have to use buses in order to get to most destinations. “
That’s not to say that Mexico will be easy going for the company. With a US$2.45 million investment from Alta Ventures, Boston-based Wanderu has its eye on the market as well.
The selection of Germany is the more interesting choice here. Yes, it is Rocket Internet’s home base, but that hasn’t been the only deciding factor. A law binding all bus companies to the government in Germany recently came to an end, spurring a huge amount of growth in the ground transportation market in a short period of time. ClickBus is hoping to capitalize on the situation.
The startup has no plans of stopping its expansion. In fact, it’s accelerating. ClickBus’ goal is to reach 14 countries in its first year, keeping its headquarters in Brazil and onboarding local representatives in each new market.
Sterenkrantz filled us in on a few more of the details of the company’s plans.
Emily Stewart: There are a lot of startups starting to move about in this arena. Why do you think this is happening how?
Marcos Sterenkrantz: Mobility was always a need for people. The difference now is that people have been getting used to adopting the internet to purchase products and services.
ES: What will you think will determine who wins? What do you think will make you win?
MS: There is no space for price wars in the bus market in Brazil, because the government regulates the market. In that case, we believe the differentiation will come from service quality. We are currently the only company offering a phone line to help customers, for example.
ES: The bus industry isn’t exactly on the cutting edge of technology. How do you get bus companies on board?
MS: Bus companies are traditionally resistant to adopting changes. However, online sales increases are impressing them. They now realize the importance of the internet and are willing to go online.