BlaBlaCar ready to accelerate in emerging countries

The king of carpooling is ready to take advantage of the recovery. In September, its activity exceeded that of 2019.

BlaBlaCar has just given itself a nice gift for its fifteenth birthday. “In September, for the first time since the start of the health crisis, we exceeded the level of activity for 2019 on a comparable month”, says Nicolas Brusson, co-founder and general manager of the carpooling and long-distance coach app.»READ ALSO – Swiss Re joins forces with BlaBlaCar and L’Olivier Assurance to launch a driving coach

Revenue, operating margin… everything is up. Moreover, the start-up, valued at 2 billion dollars (1.7 billion euros), a few weeks ago reached 100 million registered on its site. This restart, the unicorn has benefited especially in emerging countries (Russia, Brazil, India…), where it offers its services. In Russia, for example, its turnover has doubled in two years. It is true that it now also benefits from operations carried out with Busfor. Bought in September 2019, this Russian actor is a ditigale reservation center for long-distance coach tickets active in his country and in Ukraine.

In the countries of Western Europe where BlaBlaCar operates (France, Spain, Italy, etc.), the recovery is slower. Thus, in France, activity was still down 20% last month. But the trend is on the right track: in September, a month traditionally slower than summer, demand was as strong as in August. “And, with the increase in the price of gasoline, there is an influx of new registrants (more than 40,000 for a month and a half in France) who offer carpooling”, emphasizes Nicolas Brusson. The same causes produce the same effects in Klaxit. For three weeks, this home-work carpooling specialist has recorded a 50% increase in its activity in France.

The group has the means to achieve its ambitions

But this catching-up will not be enough to compensate for a disastrous first half-year, marked by re-adjustments in Europe. And the group, which had exceeded 100 million euros in turnover in 2019, should still accuse ” a decrease of 20% this year», According to Nicolas Brusson. However, with its marketplace model, BlaBlaCar limits breakage, because it has few fixed costs. It is the motorists who offer to carpool. Not the start-up, which only collects fees for the connection. On long-distance buses, it has an equivalent model. ” We are the Booking.com for long-distance coach journeys , illustrates Nicolas Brusson. We connect coach operators and customers through our digital platform. It is only in France that BlaBlaCar goes further with its own-branded buses, even if they are operated by provider coach companies.

With this very flexible operation, the start-up intends to take advantage of the recovery that is beginning. “If there is no new wave of the epidemic, we should experience very strong growth next year”,says Nicolas Brusson. Especially since the group has the means for its ambitions: in April, it raised 99 million euros and it had in addition nearly 100 million aside to finance its expansion. Its objective: to strengthen itself in emerging countries, where it already achieves 70% of its activity. In particular those where it is already established.“We want to develop there, because the market is developing very quickly there and our way of digitizing the transport offer brings a“ plus ”. We will do this either through internal growth or by buying companies ”,says Nicolas Brusson.

In this context, BlaBlaCar, which, in its history, was only profitable in 2018, is not obsessed with having its accounts in the green in the short term. Amazon didn’t make any money for twenty years, quips Nicolas Brusson.And I don’t think he’s doing badly. Our objective is first of all to gain market share.

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BlaBlaCar ready to accelerate in emerging countries

Hank Gilbert