Russia’s Busfor raises $20M to wrap up bus ticketing across Eastern Europe and Asia

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While Uber and others fight over private car transportation, there remains an elephant in the room which has simply not been disrupted yet and which actually carries far more people on the planet: Buses.

You may laugh at the idea, but we are not talking about creating an “Uber for buses” here. The complication for passengers is not the bus coming to you, but the ability to travel farther than most disconnected bus companies will allow. Sorting out the hell of a medium, or even long-distance journey by bus would drive most people mad. Time tables are unconnected, as are ticketing platforms and, of course, prices.

Perhaps this is why Berlin startup GoEuro has raised $146 million to create a multi-mode search tool that compares and combines rail, air, bus and car for European destinations.

But it turns out that emerging markets are ripe for the highest levels of disruption, because this is where buses are used most.

And while the world ruminates over other issues with Russia, Moscow-based marketplace startup Busfor has been quietly getting on with the job.

The startup has a platform for finding and buying bus tickets across Russia and plans now to expand in Eastern Europe and Asia. Because they can implement any tickets’ seller they don’t compete with the bus companies. They just give companies and customers an easier way to find the tickets, which are sold on commission.

It’s now raised $20 million from two Russian PE funds, Baring Vostok and Elbrus Capital.

At the same time, Russia-based fund InVenture Partners has increased its existing investment. This takes Busfor’s investment to $25 million in total.

The investment will be used to accelerate Busfor’s growth in domestic markets and enter new markets. It’s aiming to hit 20 percent of the Russian bus ticket market by 2019.

Founded in 2012 by ex-racing driver Ilya Ekushevskiy and ex-developer Artem Altukhov, Busfor entered the market because more people travel by bus in CIS states than by any other means of transport. And they do this even though online bus ticketing is a mess in most of these countries.

The company enables carriers and bus stations to easily sell tickets to the customers searching for them online. So far it operates in Russia, Eastern Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States and Thailand. It’s partnered with 5,000 bus companies, and claims to serve 2 million customers per month.

Competitors include Germany’s Flixbus and India’s RedBus. But Busfor has mixed those two models, meaning bus companies can access a bigger market. This tends to lead to investment in better, more comfortable, buses because the bus companies have to compete on a more level playing field. Handy.