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Public Transport App Trafi Closes $6.5M Series A Led By Octopus Investments

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Lithuania startup Trafi, which offers a public transport app to help you plan journeys, has closed a $6.5 million Series A funding round led by Octopus Investments. EBRD Venture Capital Investment Programme and BaltCap also participated, along with previous investor Practica Capital.

Like competitor Moovit, which earlier this year raised a further $50 million, Trafi could be considered a ‘Waze for public transport’. It uses real-time data provided by users and transit authorities to provide up to date and as accurate as possible journey planning information.

For the time being, the app is available in Turkey, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Brazil, and the young startup says it will use the additional capital to launch in additional markets and to further develop the technology and scale the team, including opening an office in London. I’m told the focus remains on Europe and specifically “high-growth emerging markets”.

One area in which Trafi reckons it beats competitors, who also include the likes of Citymapper, is in the accuracy of its data, which is powered by the startup’s predictive technology that uses machine learning to analyse local traffic patterns alongside real-time traffic data.

“This is a critical element in this business,” co-founder and CEO Martynas Gudonavicius tells me. “We are taking raw data from official data sources and applying our scientific algorithms to predict journey durations and arrival times. This approach results in even more accurate data than provided by public sources.”

Gudonavicius also thinks competitors are trying to scale too fast without addressing the underlying data challenge. “Moovit currently is our biggest competitor worldwide,” he says. “Their focus is on scaling to multiple cities quickly, without fixing the core problem — data quality. We see enormous potential in emerging market cities where complex transport networks and the imperfect public information available currently makes it difficult for commuters to plan their journeys. In environments like these, Trafi’s highly accurate platform sets us clearly apart from existing public and private solutions.”