Bengaluru-based bus ticketing platform redBus has been sightseeing across the borders as it looks to set up base outside the country for its next phase of growth.
Prakash Sangam, chief executive, redBus, told Livemint that its next lever of growth is going to come from its international business as it is currently evaluating opportunities in Vietnam, Thailand and Turkey.
It may foray into new geographies by the end of this year, he added. Sangam further explained that it is looking at entering these markets inorganically, through a local player. “But if that doesn’t happen, we are open to going the organic way by launching our own services,” he said.
redBus was founded in 2006. In June 2013, ibibo Group, a joint venture between South Africa’s Naspers and Chinese Internet company Tencent, acquired a controlling stake in online bus ticketing firm redBus, valuing it at about $140 Mn (INR 800 Cr).
The company claimed to have sold more than 180 Mn bus tickets till date. redBus is now part of the MakeMyTrip group. In 2018, around 61.5 Mn passengers reserved their tickets on the redBus platform. It has a monthly active user base of about 20 Mn, with an average order value of INR 1,100. Last quarter, its bus ticketing gross bookings grew 40%, while adjusted revenue climbed 37%.
It is already present in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, among other countries. As of the last quarter, international markets contribute 7% to its overall revenue. The company expects this to go up to 35% over the next 3-4 years. For this year, he expects international business to contribute in double digits.
For the next set of international expansion, the countries are being examined on the size of the bus market and should also have a fair amount of fragmentation in the supply base Moreover, the country should be at the right stage of ecommerce evolution—having the right balance of internet penetration, smartphone usage and payments, Sangam said.
redBus had also recently launched rPool, a carpooling service which will allow office commuters to avail and offer rides in their personal vehicles to others while travelling between home and office.
The international expansion has become one of the key growth parameters for Indian startups which have been exploring global markets. From hospitality chain OYO to cab hailing player Ola, the Indian startups are creating a niche market in the global market as well.
redBus in India is now competing with players such as RailYatri, which has expanded its train booking ops to include services such as inter-city bus. In the urban mobility space, the outstation services by Ola and Uber as well as car rental platform Zoomcar are challenging the urban market for redBus.