Rocket Internet’s Easy Taxi secures Series D funding its highest so far

Brazil-based taxi hailing app maker EasyTaxi, backed by Berlin headquartered incubator Rocket Internet, has raised $40 million in series D funding. The funding round was led by the Russian Phenomen Ventures with participation of Tengelmann Ventures, the investment company of Germany’s multi-sector retailer Tengelmann Group. This puts Easy Taxi’s total funding  at $ 77 million.

EasyTaxi - Rocket Internet

Easy Taxi currently operates in 32 countries and 162 cities worldwide, its 185,000 drivers are spread across Latin America, Africa & Asia.  The company’s official statement says “The confidence new investors have put into the world’s farthest-reaching taxi app is a testament to Easy Taxi’s successful expansion during the past year and its leadership position across multiple markets.” Easy Taxi had relatively less competition in West Africa, but last week with the launch of Uber  in Lagos things may hot up.

Dennis Wang, Co-CEO of Easy Taxi, said, “We are very proud to have secured this new round of funding, which will allow us to continue our growth trajectory in existing markets, advance our technology, scale our operations and improve our service towards more audiences and geographies. In particular, the expertise of our new investors aligns with our ambition to further increase our market share in Asia and consolidate our leadership in Latin America.”

The funding journey of Easy Taxi

  • Easy Taxi received $5 million in Oct 2012 from Latin America Internet Holding for its global expansion. (Series A)

  • In June 2013, EasyTaxi had raised an additional $15 million worth of funding from Africa Internet Holding (AIH) to expand to Asia, Africa and the Middle East. (Series B)

  • Africa Internet Holding and Rocket Internet invested $10M in July 2013. Oct 2013 Rocket Internet and iMENA Holding have invested $7 million into the EasyTaxi’s regional rollout in the Middle East and North Africa. (Series C)

  • July 2014 raised $ 40 million from Phenomen Ventures & Tengelmann Ventures. (Series D)

A battle for a scale

“In the last year, we were able to add over 150,000 drivers to our network, bringing it now to around 185,000. We complete millions of rides per month across 160+ cities in 30+ countries worldwide, and the additional funding will enable us to continue working towards our mission of making the traditional taxi industry function in a much more convenient and safe way than it ever has,” said Co-CEO Tallis Gomes.

Rocket Internet’s (soon to go for $4b IPO) operating strategy is to clone startup business models in markets that competitors have not yet entered or have no strong hold. In 2011, Tallis Gomes in his early 20s had come up with the idea of Easy Taxi in Brazil. He worked at it to make it a viable startup and later joined the Berlin based Rocket Internet incubator. Since then, Easy Taxi has expanded to more than 163 cities in 3 years. The app has different versions for each market, with global appeal but hyper localized.

In a business like this scale matters a lot because the nature of the business model is based on high volume and thin profit margin.  Easy Taxi will have to fight with the 1.2 billion venture backed Uber to scale and acquire more users. There’s a lot to be seen in this space.

Emmanuel Amberber

Inhales & exhale everything startups, tech, entrepreneurship, and the intersection of India & Africa. You can reach him via emmanuel[at]yourstory.com