27 Apr 2018

PasajeBus eyes Argentina as well as M&A potential for further growth

Latin American bus ticketing start-up PasajeBus is planning to expand further around the region outside of its home market of Chile.

PasajeBus.com, which was set up by two Indian tech entrepreneurs in 2014, is based in Chile and also operates in neighbouring Argentina, as well as having some limited coverage in Brazil and Peru.

The company offers a range of services based around the inter-city bus network in Chile and Argentina: providing software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions for bus operators, acting as a bus tickets distributor for both physical and online travel agencies, and also selling direct to consumers through its own website.

Co-founder and CEO Amit Sodani, formerly an analyst at Deutsche Bank, told tnooz the company had grown quickly to the point where nearly half (48%) of Chile’s inter-city bus seats are now being distributed exclusively through its SaaS distribution platform.

On the trade side, PasajeBus works with major regional OTA Despegar as well as more than 2,600 physical points of sale including traditional agencies, hostels and convenience stores in Chile.

It also has deals with corporate clients and universities, giving access to more than 400,000 travellers, who receive discounts on their bus ticket purchases. Sodani says:

“Since we started four years ago, we have sold more than two million passengers. For the first three years, we were getting the bus operators on side.

“There’s been huge growth in the last year – now, we are growing exponentially with double-digit growth month-on-month. We are the biggest seat distributor in Chile – we have the highest number of seats in the country.”

So far, PasajeBus has raised $2.5 million in funding since its formation in 2014. This includes $1 million from the Daire family in Chile and a $100,000 award from the Chilean government’s Start-up Chile fund, both in 2017.

The company has also received support as part of Microsoft Imagine Business Lab’s accelerator programme for technology start-ups in Chile. Soldani adds:

“We have no immediate short-term plan to raise more funding. We are looking for more internal expansion in Latin America – we are looking at the market in Argentina where we’re planning to set up an office later this year. We are also looking into Brazil and Peru.

“We could expand into other areas of Latin America by looking at M&A opportunities and trying to acquire another company in another part of the continent.”

Sodani said that PasajeBus could also look to complete deals to feature its bus content on the major worldwide GDSs, such as Sabre and Amadeus.

But he adds:

“Getting on the GDS is not a top priority but we are possibly open to it. We think it would add value to the other GDS but we’re not sure how much traction there would be. It’s something that would be good to have, but it’s not must have for us.”

Sodani set up PasajeBus with co-founder Dasharatham Bitla, who acts as the company’s CTO and is based in Bangalore. Bitla is also founder of Bitla Soft, which offers SaaS services to the travel industry in India including bus companies.