BlaBlaCar Expands Beyond Europe

After raising a massive $100 million round last summer, BlaBlaCar is opening its first market outside of Europe with India — if you count Turkey and Russia as part of Europe at large. This country marks the 14th market for the company.

As a reminder, BlaBlaCar is a marketplace for city-to-city rides. You browse the platform to find a driver who is driving from one city to another and book a seat in advance. Drivers can make back a bit of money while riders can travel for cheap. It has the same business model as Airbnb — you pay or get money every time you ride or drive, and the company takes a 10 percent cut on average. In October, BlaBlaCar CEO Frédéric Mazzella told me that the company arranges 2 million rides per month.

While many people living in India rely on trains and buses to go from one city to another, trains are nowhere as efficient as in other countries. BlaBlaCar will therefore compete more or less directly with existing buses by filling up empty car seats. It will be a nice alternative when your bus is fully booked.

When Mazzella took the stage at Disrupt Europe, he was very clear about the company’s expansions plans. “The $100 million round just now is to help us become global,” he said. “We have to take what’s proven successful in the countries we are, and go to the next level.”

Yet, today’s expansion is still more significant than your average expansion as it is the first one outside of Europe, creating new challenges for the company. In July, I heard that the company was looking at India, Turkey and Brazil. The first two countries were launched recently, so Brazil might be coming in the next few months.