SmartRyde, a Japanese online pre-booked airport transfers service platform, is a marketplace that connects travelers to local transportation operators/online travel agencies (OTAs).
Sota Kimura, co-founder and CEO of SmartRyde, founded SmartRyde in 2017 after he experienced trouble getting a taxi from the airport to the hotel when he traveled abroad, Kimura told TechCrunch.
SmartRyde, which currently operates its airport transfers services in 150 countries with 700 airports globally, has collaborated with approximately 650 taxi companies and more than 25 online travel agencies (OTAs) including Booking.com, Expedia, Trip.com, Indonesia’s Traveloka and Argentina’s Despegar, Kimura said.
Unlike similar services that already are offered by riding-hailing companies, SmartRide provides customers with a one-stop travel service, including sightseeing, in addition to booking airline tickets and hotels, Kimura said. That 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 it has secured a $1.6 million Series A to strengthen its system integration with OTAs on the demand side, build a booking management system for transportation operators on the supply side and accelerate digital transformation in the pre-booking transportation 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 in major cities and tourist destinations, including Mexico, Spain, Thailand, Dominican Republic, the U.S. (Honolulu, Las Vegas, Miami) and Japan, Kimura said.
Since the pandemic outbreak in March 2020, SmartRyde has experienced a significant decrease. The number of reservations, however, has been increasing again, especially tourists from the U.S., since December 2020, as per its statement.
“Due to the impact of COVID-19, there has been a change in the way people travel, such as avoiding congestion. Under such a trend, we believe that airport transfer services via OTAs, which are the starting point for travel bookings, will further expand,” Ryota Yamaguchi, manager at Yamaguchi Capital said.
"We invested in SmartRyde because we sympathize with its mission of 'contributing to the sustainable development of local communities through transportation' and are attracted to its business model, which is collaborating with many global players," said Daisuke Miyazaki, director of SG Incubate, the CVC of Saibu Gas Group.