European long distance travel booking platform GoEuro is in talks with Uber about an integration to cover the last mile of a journey, an area GoEuro does not focus on. The startup does share an investor with Uber — with Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers joining its $70 million Series C round last month.
Naren Shaam, founder of the Berlin-based startup, revealed the news during an interview with TechCrunch’s Ingrid Lunden here at Disrupt London. Lunden also asked whether GoEuro is talking to last mile public transport app Citymapper about an integration — but Shaam said it’s not yet got around the table with the UK-based startup.
“Consumers travel no matter what. So serving that market is what we focus on and I think there’s still a huge opportunity for us to capture that market. And we can definitely complement with Uber and Citymapper to make an end-to-end [integration],” said Shaam.
Lunden also asked if GoEuro is getting acquisition offers — pointing to the $1.74 billion Ctrip buy of flight search company Skyscanner last month. Shaam said he couldn’t comment on that but described the Skyscanner acquisition as “very nice” for the industry.
“Asian companies coming to Europe? Yes I see more of that,” he added.
But Shaam was very clear that his personal motivation is not a big exit. He’s in it for the long haul, he said, recounting how he moved to Europe four years ago with the aim of fixing the fragmentation of national transport networks — and went on to launch GoEuro as a single founder startup.
“I don’t build companies because of valuation. You build companies to solve a consumer problem. And the larger the consumer problem you solve, valuation is a derivative of — it’s basically like stock market valuation can go up or down. That’s not the focus; the focus is really how can you build a large company in a very large industry — that’s really what drives me,” he said.
“I fell in love with this problem I wanted to solve, I moved to Europe, left everything, didn’t know anybody — so I’m after something that I did want to solve.”
Shaam also said GoEuro is committed to maintaining its headquarters in Berlin, which he said he picked over Stockholm or London because it’s more centrally located in Europe, and because of lower costs for hiring developers — although he added they may now look to open up offices elsewhere to “tap into talent as we scale.”
“I knew from the beginning that it would be a very large engineering company — more than half of us are engineers. So hiring a lot of engineers in London is expensive. The cost of labor in Berlin is much cheaper. So it was basically a very rational choice to move to Germany and start the company.”
At this point GoEuro has around 200 staff, and operates across 12 countries in Europe — with around 600 train and bus companies integrated into its platform so far.
While it took the startup around a year to get its first contract with a transport provider it’s been able to speed up launches as it’s built connections with and deepened its understanding of the transport problem it’s tackling.
“We can launch countries faster and our existing products also get faster because we can cache a lot of inventory because we already understand schedules, how pricing works, etc. So the product itself gets very fast, with more and more consumers — so there’s a lot of efficiency gains that scale. And we have a deep understanding of both network and customer travel patterns that makes us smart in the middle.”
Shaam confirmed GoEuro has raised $140 million at this point — far more than the various startup competitors also tackling the space in Europe. The platform, though revenue-generating, is not yet profitable. Why does GoEuro need such a large amount of VC funding, Lunden asked?
“We’re going after a very large space, 150 billion-plus in Europe alone, transport — most large companies when you go after a very large space and you want to move fast, takes capital. Because you’ve got to build everything for the consumer, and we focus on the consumer — which is both the partnerships, the technology, the marketing machine. And the consumer experience. So we have to build all of this, and it takes a lot of capital,” said Shaam.
“We are not going after a small industry — we are going to go after hopefully taking a very big share of this large market… Raising capital is just a means to an end — in terms of how large can we make the company.”