Blablacar’s activity in Russia has reached a “phenomenal level,” said its co-founder and CEO Nicolas Bruisson in a recent interview with French business daily Les Echos.
“Our concept is popular there, there was a demand but little competition,” Bruisson said. He expects Russia to become his company’s number one market, even before France, in 2017.
The French startup entered the Russian and Ukrainian markets in 2014 through the acquisition of Ukrainian site Podorozhniki.
Bruisson confirmed a recent €21.3 million euro capital injection from Baring Vostok, a leading Russian private equity firm: “We were looking for a trustworthy local partner to help us better know the market. This investor is independent from the authorities and the oligarchs, and has supported the development of Yandex and Avito,” the French businessman emphasized.
“This round of financing was different from the previous ones in that the financial dimension was not very important,” Bruisson added, somehow elliptically.
No new markets for Blablacar
Recently, Blablacar also launched its service in Brazil, India, Mexico and Turkey. “It’s too early to draw conclusions, but our start has been very strong in Brazil,” said Bruisson.
Meanwhile, Blablacar has not taken off in Great Britain, for reasons which the company has not fully understood yet.
Taking into account the existing activities across Europe and emerging markets, Bruisson believes that Blablacar has almost exhausted its growth potential in geographic terms: “We’re not sure there’s really a market for car sharing in the United States; and penetrating the Chinese market is almost impossible. So there are few new market opportunities for us, except perhaps Japan.”
Rather than focusing on geographic expansion, the French unicorn will seek to increase service use in the countries where it already operates — by improving user experience, introducing new functionalities and potentially launch new low-cost services.