Shuttle, a mass-transit startup based in Bangladesh, has raised US$750,000 in a seed round, led by Accelerating Asia. Robi Axiata Limited (r-ventures), Impact Collective (The Ventures, South Korea), and Bangladesh Angels Network (BAN) are some of the investors that participated in the round in addition to angel investors from home and abroad including industry (logistics) experts such as Uber's Head of Mobility Innovation Programs, and Co-founder & Managing Director of foodpanda Bangladesh.
Shuttle is also eligible for receiving Impact Ready Matching Fund of upto US$ 100,000 from the Biniyog Briddhi - a multi-year programme dedicated to supporting a thriving ecosystem where impact enterprises of Bangladesh can grow and scale their impact. Biniyog Briddhi is set up as a public-private development partnership (PPDP) between the Embassy of Switzerland in Bangladesh, Roots of Impact, and LightCastle Partners. Previously Shuttle raised a pre-seed round from Robi Axiata Limited and in total it has raised close to $1 mln so far.
Shuttle provides the service in air-conditioned minivans, accommodating 10-11 people, who can safely commute together by paying less than one-fourth of ride-sharing cars. The company started its journey back in 2018 with a women-only service to solve a pressing issue in Bangladesh – the lack of safe transportation for women. The service proved to be remarkable, garnering impressive responses from female users, all across Dhaka. Shuttle currently has more than 20,000 women registered in their platform for the “Shuttle for Women'' service and has completed more than 1 million successful rides.
Shuttle has recently extended its services further and incorporated “Shuttle for Business” in 2020. In the wake of Covid-19, this initiative aided organizations to ensure safe and sanitized transportation for their moving employees during the lockdown. They also recently introduced unisex services in certain routes for B2C customers, which they plan to expand upon soon.
When asked what makes Shuttle different, Shuttle’s Co-founder & CEO Reyasat Chowdhury said, “When we started, we figured out that different segments of people in the society (women, men, businesses, school, and university students, etc.) have different needs and different priorities and one solution for all will not solve the problems. We realized that 21st-century mass-transit solutions need to cater to the unique needs of each of these segments separately. Keeping that in mind, initially, we started with a women-only service and later launched “Shuttle for Business.”
Amra Naidoo, Co-founder and General Partner from international accelerator VC Accelerating Asia said “We first met Shuttle back at the end of 2018, when they were just starting out. Since then, Shuttle has grown its core product and diversified its offerings significantly. During the Accelerating Asia accelerator program, we saw the team’s ability to execute on ideas, launch new products, and resilience within the team when they successfully launched Shuttle for Business and signed clients including top MNCs in tough market conditions. We are excited to lead the investment round into Shuttle and have them as part of the Accelerating Asia portfolio, and are looking forward to seeing what’s next in store for the team.”
Shihab Ahmad, Chief Commercial Officer of Robi and Sponsor of r-ventures also praised Team Shuttle for its resilience and added, “Shuttle is one of our most innovative solutions and it has shown continued progress in delivering services in different ways. I am really impressed by the ability of the Shuttle team to adapt and re-energize under difficult conditions during pandemics while continuing to find ways to grow. We will continue to support Shuttle and we strongly believe, Shuttle will continue to grow in coming days founded on their entrepreneurial mindset, resilience, and hunger for success.”
Jimin Ryu, who led the investment deal for Impact Collective mentioned, “Shuttle helps to solve social problems faced by developing countries with insufficient infrastructure, and at the same time, the team is rapidly growing with ambitious goals to launch new services such as services for male passengers, car rentals, and more. Shuttle is a good fit with the purpose of the Impact Collective Fund and we look forward to the creation of positive impact through Shuttle's services."
The startup has a total addressable market of $7.5 billion only in Bangladesh and the team believes that the same solution can be replicated in other developing countries and densely populated cities as well. CEO of Bangladesh Angels Network (BAN), Nirjhor Rahman said, “both Intracity and intercity mass commute in Bangladesh is dangerous, unreliable and unsafe, especially for women. Reyasat and his team are building a 21st-century bus service for Bangladesh and beyond and we are excited to be part of the journey.”
The company envisions to make safe and comfortable transportation affordable and accessible for mass people in developing countries.