Online bus ticketing platform redBus said its next lever of growth is going to come from its international business. redBus is currently evaluating opportunities in Vietnam, Thailand and Turkey. It may foray into new geographies by the end of this year, said a top company executive.
“We are evaluating these markets right now," said Prakash Sangam, chief executive, redBus. “We are 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."
redBus is already present in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, among other countries. As of the just-ended quarter, international markets contribute 7% to its overall revenue. Sangam 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.
“We are evaluating the markets based on several factors. First, it needs to be a large bus market and should also have a fair amount of fragmentation in the supply base," said Sangam. “Moreover, the country should be at the right stage of e-commerce evolution—having the right balance of internet penetration, smartphone usage and payments."
Increasingly, several domestic startups have started looking at aggressive international expansion strategies as they turn to global markets to tap into the next level of growth.
Launched with Malaysia in 2016, hotel chain Oyo started expanding its international presence. Subsequently, it launched its services in China, Nepal, Indonesia and the UAE. Similarly, cab-hailing platform Ola has a presence in Australia, New Zealand and the UK.
Pilani Soft Labs Pvt. Ltd-owned redBus.in, which was founded by Phanindra Sama, Sudhakar Pasupunuri and Charan Padmaraju in 2006, was acquired in 2013 by Ibibo.
Sangam said in 2018 that around 61.5 million passengers reserved their tickets on the redBus platform. It has a monthly active user base of about 20 million, with an average order value of ₹1,100. Last quarter, its bus ticketing gross bookings grew 40%, while adjusted revenue climbed 37%.
Apart from expanding to foreign lands, redBus is also looking at curating pilgrimage packages for its users, which they believe could be another growth driver for the platform.