Malaysia’s pioneering bus ticketing platform operator Catch That Bus Sdn Bhd is in talks with venture capital firms for its second funding round and expects to seal a deal within the next three months, a top company executive said.
The latest funding round is set to be much larger than the seed capital the company had secured from investors led by Singapore’s Jungle Ventures.
In May, the company better known as CatchThatBus had its first round of funding for an undisclosed amount, believed to be around S$1 million. In addition to Jungle Ventures, other investors in the seed funding round included, National Research Foundation and Sachin Bhatia, the co-founder of India-based and Nasdaq-listed online travel company MakeMyTrip.
A check on CrunchBase data showed that the recent Series A funding for other companies in the same category, ranged between $1.5 million to $30 million, with most of it in the single-digit millions.
The company’s chief executive Viren Doshi did not want to put an estimate for the expected funding but confirmed that the company was talking to investors. However, he noted that the forthcoming round is likely to be much larger, taking into account the company’s goal to expand beyond Malaysia and Singapore.
He said that the company was still strategising its regional expansion plans and thus, is yet to pinpoint the amount it would need for the next phase of growth, in both the local and the regional markets. The company, he said, intends to remain flexible in its fund utilisation, and hence it was not fixing allocations for local or regional plans.
“There is a fine line between raising just enough and raising too much or too little. We are still working out our strategy – like the team we will need to expand into a new market, or if we need to deploy offline strategies in certain countries,” he said, adding that the company was still weighing all options for further expansion.
While Doshi was not too keen to talk about the on-going discussions with seed fund investor Jungle Ventures or other potential venture capitalists (VCs), he revealed that the future funding is likely involve more international VCs (aside from the existing Singapore-based investors).
“There is investor interest in us and we are speaking to some (of the VCs) but we really want to find the right fit. A lot of people have the money but we want to bring in key strategic investors who share the same values,” he said, adding that Jungle Ventures will likely stay invested in CatchThatBus, as the company continues to grow.
CatchThatBus has grown its bus operator base from 11 (in May this year) to 25, currently. With official numbers indicating about 100 registered bus operators in Malaysia and Singapore, CatchThatBus has one-fourth of the bus companies, on board, here.
The company has seen a five-time increase in ticket volume (customers of its platform), in the past six months. Its revenue has hit a five-figure number, and Doshi was confident that the growth momentum will continue.
Last week, Tourism Malaysia soft-launched its collaboration with CatchThatBus to promote lesser known towns around Malaysia.
CatchThatBus sees itself as a technology enabler for the bus ticketing service in Malaysia and Singapore. The tickets it sells are the priced similarly to those bought over the counter. Revenue comes from taking a commission from the bus operators that are on its platform and the commission arrangement is made separately with each operator.
The bus ticketing platform has a customer retention rate of between 60-70 per cent.
The company was founded in June 2011 by Viren Doshi and Ashwin Jeyapalasingam. It began transacting in September 2013. Doshi was involved with a family business prior to starting the bus ticketing business, while Jeyapalasingam, the chief operating officer, was an associate director in the consulting arm at PricewaterhouseCoopers.