FlixBus, largest intercity bus network in Europe, and backed by investors General Atlantic and Silver Lake, is planning to venture into India.
The company operates on the same model as cab service aggregators such as Uber or Ola. It does not own any bus or hire drivers but facilitates operational support, like scheduling, and ticketing, among other things. The company partners regional bus operators, and offers rides across Europe and in the US. It works on the principle of dynamic pricing, through an online platform and a FlixBus app.
“We recently started our recruitment for the Indian market and the project is still in an early business development stage,” said a spokesperson of FlixBus Global over e-mail.
One of the most successful German start-ups, it was launched by Daniel Krauss, André Schwämmlein and Jochen Engert in 2013, after deregulation of the bus market in that country. FlixBus is a subsidiary of FlixMobility, which has also launched train services. The firm works with around 300 independent bus and train entities.
In 2015, FlixBus began expanding internationally, with long-distance networks in France, Italy, Denmark, Netherlands and Croatia, as well as cross-border services to Norway, Spain and Britain. It connects a little more than 2,000 destinations in 30 countries, says the company.
In August, FlixMobility said it had extended a Series-F funding round by partnering with Baillie Gifford, Luxor Capital Group and Odyssey 44, with additional investment provided through funds and accounts managed by BlackRock. The capital raised will be used to fuel further global expansion and to launch a new FlixMobility service, FlixCar. The latter would be a ride sharing platform that will complement the existing FlixBus and FlixTrain networks, as well as the company's charter platform, said the company.
The funds would also help in attaining market leadership in the US; by 2020, it will also see buses in South America and Asia, it said.
Apart from new investors, existing shareholders include General Atlantic, a leading global growth equity firm, and Silver Lake, a global player in technology investment. The company entered the US markets last year.
The entry of FlixBus could lead to a big shift in intercity transport in India. While there are operators offering online platforms for ticketing and customer support, there is no Uber-like standardisation of services on a large scale.
According to an official survey titled ‘Key indicators of household expenditure on services and durable goods’ in 2014-15, the bus is the most reported means of transport in both rural and urban areas. About 66 per cent of households in rural areas and 62 per cent in urban areas reported expenditure on bus travel.