Since Voyhoy launched in Chile in 2014, the South American multimodal transport platform with real-time ticket bookings across multiple countries and local payment providers, has garnered more than 10 million visitors to the platform.
Last year, the company expanded to four additional markets so that it now serves Chile, Argentina, Peru, Columbia and Brazil. Limited routes are also available in Paraguay and Uruguay. The startup is also one of the region’s largest sources of intercity transport data and inventory, with more than: 200 non-air transport operators; 15,000 bus terminals, train stations, stop and pick-up points; 20 local and budget airlines; and 3,000 airports.
CEO and Co-Founder Jake Moskowitz said:
Our five core markets by themselves represent over 350 million people and over 500 million long-distance passenger trips made annually across transport modes, most of which are domestic ground transport.
There’s certainly enough room for growth in the markets where we already have a presence. That being said, we would like to connect the map: adding more coverage in Ecuador, Paraguay, Bolivia, and Uruguay.
The expansion strategy also includes hard-to-reach destinations like national parks and island destinations as well as limited experiments in Central America, focusing on Panama and Costa Rica. Plans are also in the works for a mobile app as well as to add more ticket inventory to increase coverage, so that rural transport and tourist shuttle services can also be purchased on the platform.
In fact, the greatest challenge that the Voyhoy team encountered when they initially began developing the platform was friction from operators, many of which did not offer tickets via a GDS, had antiquated ticketing software or still worked with pen and paper or through a third party ticket provider. In turn, Voyhoy uploaded static schedules and trip information and then presented volume data to operators with service on the highest demand routes.
Moskowitz said that “the process became of our greatest strengths” and the same approach is still used to prioritize Voyhoy’s commercial strategy.
Today, the startup also provides B2B partners with a suite of APIs, embeddable widgets, and admin consoles for route, pricing, and interlining management.
Angel investors and the Chilean government’s innovation agency CORFO were the company’s initial source of financing, which was later followed by investment from TechStars when Voyhoy was selected to participate in their mobility accelerator program.
In 2017, the startup closed a seed round from institutional and strategic investors such as 1776 Ventures, Fontinalis Partners, Outbound Ventures and Autonebula. Planning is currently under way to raise a series A financing round this year in order to invest more aggressively in paid marketing channels.
Four years since launching and more than 90 percent of Voyhoy customers are local travelers in the region. Moskowitz explained:
Our users are very different from those of legacy travel sites primarily because of their price sensitivity and our consolidation of ground transport content has also allowed us to capture buckets of the market that most travel companies overlook –cost-conscious travelers and commuters.
Also, lower car ownership rates in the region have helped to give rise to a growing bus industry. In turn, Voyhoy has also built a growing following among travelers who make journeys of 50 to 250 kilometers twice monthly or more frequently, often making round trips from small towns to city centers. "By providing access to this kind of travel content, we’ve built a stickiness with traveler segments that don’t fit into the conventional consumer profiles in the online travel space," he claimed.
But the startup also caters to international travelers, with an English version of the website, English-speaking customer care agents and foreign payment processors that accept international credit cards. This has also helped give rise to a segment of the region’s many intra-country travelers who had previously struggled to pay for a bus ticket in one country with their own local currency.
To accommodate the growing customer base and after witnessing how the US startup community contrasted with its Latin American counterpart, Voyhoy opened a Miami office in January 2017, serving as the company’s international headquarters. He believes that:
Miami boasts one of the best startup ecosystems for companies focused in Latin America, but for an online travel startup like Voyhoy, it holds even greater strategic importance as it’s also a hub for the travel industry, with many of the most establish players in the space, using Miami offices as their gateway to the Americas.