Oway Group, Myanmar’s leading travel booking and ride-hailing service provider, is planning to close a eight-digit funding round (US dollars) in the next three months, a spokesperson told this portal.
The startup, which owns online travel portal oway.com.mm and ride-hailing app Oway Ride, is currently in discussions with potential investors, including institutional investors and private equity firms, for the latest funding round.
As part of the round, IFC made an equity investment of $2 million in Oway in early 2017, marking the World Bank arm’s first investment in a technology startup in Myanmar.
Oway Group had previously received investments from Taft Co Pte Ltd, BeeNext Capital and Qualgro Capital.
Facing increased competition from local startup Hello Cabs and bigger rivals Grab, which recently launched full-fledged operations in the frontier market, and ride hailing giant Uber, Oway is planning more technology investments to differentiate itself in the market.
Founded by Stanford and London School of Economics alum Nay Aung, a Myanmar national who has earlier worked with Google and Blue Lithium, Oway is already tapping into the payments space and exploring other tech-based offerings.
The next step for the firm is to penetrate into smaller townships across Myanmar and expand Oway Pay, its mobile wallet service.
Looking Beyond Yangon
Going beyond the major cities in Myanmar is not what other ride hailing majors Grab and Uber are looking into. A Grab spokesperson said the firm does not have any plans to go beyond Yangon or launch motorcycle hailing services.
“We aim to make our services available mainly in tier-1 and -2 cities throughout Myanmar,” said the Oway spokesperson.
This would pit it against Hello Cabs, which has already expanded to Mandalay.
Earlier this year, Hello Cabs raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Nay Min Thu, founder of iMyanmar Group. The funding was expected to value the company at a high seven-digit figure (US dollars). The local company benefits from not only a first mover advantage, but also from having Yaung Ni Oo Co Ltd, which imports cars and has a traditional taxi service, as a major shareholder.
Oway plans to start its expansion from Mandalay and it is already conducting trials for expanded offerings. “By September, we will be able to offer other modes of transportation,” said the spokesperson from Oway. Additional transportation modes will include motorcycles.