SmartRyde, a Japanese platform for pre-booked online airport transfer services, is a marketplace that connects travelers with local transport operators / online travel agencies (OTAs).
Sota Kimura, co-founder and CEO of SmartRyde, founded SmartRyde in 2017 after struggling to find a taxi from the airport to the hotel when traveling abroad, Kimura told TechCrunch.
SmartRyde, which currently operates its airport transfer services in 150 countries with 700 airports worldwide, has worked with around 650 taxi companies and over 25 online travel agencies (OTAs) including Booking.com, Expedia, Trip. com, Indonesian Traveloka and Argentinian Despegar. Kimura said.
Unlike similar services that are already offered by horseback riding companies, SmartRide offers customers a one-stop travel service, including sightseeing tours, in addition to booking airline tickets and hotels, a Kimura said. This makes SmartRyde special and the company will continue to promote partnerships with online travel agencies, travel agencies and mobility companies, Kimura added.
SmartRyde announced today that it has secured a $ 1.6 million Series A to strengthen its system’s integration with OTAs on the demand side, create a reservation management system for transport operators on the demand side. offer and accelerate digital transformation in the pre-booked transport industry. It will also use the funding for global expansion, Kimura said.
The latest round was led by Angel Bridge along with other investors including SG Incubate, Yamaguchi Capital, SMBC Venture Capital, Hiroshima Venture Capital, Iyogin Capital, Inventum Ventures and Optima Ventures.
The company plans to expand further into major cities and tourist destinations, including Mexico, Spain, Thailand, the Dominican Republic, the United States (Honolulu, Las Vegas, Miami) and Japan, Kimura said.
Since the pandemic outbreak in March 2020, SmartRyde has experienced a significant decline. The number of bookings has increased again, however, especially tourists from the United States, since December 2020, according to its statement.
“Due to the impact of COVID-19, there has been a change in the way people move, such as avoiding traffic jams. As part of such a trend, we believe that airport transfer services via OTAs, which are the starting point for travel bookings, will develop further, ”said Ryota Yamaguchi, director of Yamaguchi Capital.
“We invested in SmartRyde because we sympathize with its mission to ‘contribute to the sustainable development of local communities through transport’ and are drawn to its business model, which collaborates with many global players,” said Daisuke Miyazaki, director of SG Incubate, the CVC of Saibu Gas Group.