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Bolting its way to success, this Uber rival nabs €628M to drive in food delivery and ride sharing app

At a time when various startups are trying different ways to amp up ride-sharing services and serve value-conscious users, a growing list of ecommerce companies are making aggressive claims to make 10-minute deliveries to widen their customer base, this superapp is doing it all and has bagged big money to fund its ambitious growth.

The rival of Uber’s ride-sharing and food delivery business, Estonian startup Bolt has raised €628 million ($711.40 million) to further scale its existing products and accelerate the transition from owned cars to shared mobility in cities.

Largest-ever funding

The company’s largest-ever funding round was led by Sequoia Capital and Fidelity Management and Research Company with participation from Whale Rock, Owl Rock (a division of Blue Owl), D1, G Squared, Tekne, Ghisallo, and others. With the additional investment, the startup’s valuation has now reached €7.4 billion. The ride sharing platform had raised funding in August last year at a valuation of more than €4 billion.

Founded in 2013 by Markus Villig, Martin Villig and Oliver Leisalu, Europe’s first super-app has expanded into several other lines of business. With offerings such as ride-hailing service; car-sharing service Bolt Drive; Bolt Food, which enables customers to order meals from restaurants; and Bolt Market, a 15-minute grocery delivery service, the startup’s suite of mobility and delivery products is currently used by more than 100 million customers in 45 countries and over 400 cities across Europe and Africa.

Building greener cities

For decades, cities have been built for cars, not people. That has led to unsustainable traffic, pollution and loss of public space to parking places, Markus Villig, Founder and CEO at Bolt feels. To change this outdated approach, the platform has developed products that offer better and more affordable alternatives for almost every purpose a private car serves.

“We’re partnering with cities to help people make the switch towards light vehicles such as scooters and e-bikes and shared mobility options like ride-hailing and car-sharing to transform urban areas back into sustainable, people-friendly spaces.”

“This new round of funding and the biggest in our history will help us build a future in which cities have less congestion, less pollution and more green spaces where people can easily move around in a safe and sustainable way,” he added.

Scooter-sharing network

Scooter-sharing is just one part of Bolt’s suite of mobility and delivery products, which are currently used by more than 100 million customers in 45 countries and over 400 cities across Europe and Africa.

Last month, the company had introduced a range of new safety features to be incorporated on its scooter-sharing network, the largest in Europe, demonstrating how the company is a reliable partner for cities. These features include a tandem riding prevention system, which can detect more than one person riding a scooter at the same time, a cognitive reaction test to ensure riders stay as safe as possible, and a skid prevention system meaning scooters are only used in a safe and responsible manner.

Promise of 15-minute delivery

The investment is also expected to accelerate the expansion of Bolt Market, a 15-minute grocery delivery service. The newest product of the company was unveiled during the pandemic and already operates dozens of stores in ten countries across Europe. Bolt is looking at expanding this offering rapidly in 2022 and plans to have hundreds of stores operational by the end of the year.

Sharing space in this sector in Europe that are giving Uber and Bolt a tough competition are Barcelona-based Cabify, Belgian leasing company Lizy, French startup Electra, Amsterdam’s Vanmoof, Just Eat and DoorDash, which entered Europe via a $8 billion purchase of Wolt recently.

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