Things have changed – dramatically – at Jayride since the online travel marketplace for airport transfers raised $9.5 million and listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in late January.
But you wouldn’t know it talking with co-founder and Managing Director Rod Bishop, who remains as steady, calm and phlegmatic as ever.
“I’m just one of the team,” he says.
And yet Rod, who has been a quiet presence on the Australian travel startup scene since starting Jayride with co-founder Ross Lin in 2012, is now in charge of a completely different beast.
The extra funds – $8 million of which was provided pre-IPO by Follow The Seed (as in follow the seed capital) plus the extra scrutiny of being a publicly traded business – has transformed the business.
For Rod, the biggest change has been the speed at which Jayride can execute its international expansion strategy, which until May had been on a slow burn with the company taking six years to offer products in five markets, including Australia.
Now that sort of of growth happens in a month, literally, due to the launch of a new technology platform in May.
“Now any transport company can list and sell on Jayride – it’s been a quantum leap,” says Rod, adding that it also launched a new customer service platform and improved website usability.
Rod says the response from suppliers to the new platform has been outstanding, crucial because Jayride won’t launch in a new market unless it is able to offer customers a competitive selection of transport alternatives.
In the past two months alone Jayride has partnered with with more than 200 transport companies and launched at 84 airports in Indonesia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Singapore, Spain, Netherlands, Austria and Cyprus.
Jayride, which is based in Sydney and has 100 staff, now works with 3000+ transports operators at more than 500 airports in Asia, Europe, North America and Australasia.
The United States, where Jayride started in 2015, is the company’s biggest market while recent additions to the network are quickly gaining traction with sales outstripping the US in its early days.
Most bookings are consumer direct but industry alliances also play an important role in the sales mix – Jayride is the transport partner for Amadeus, Flight centre, Expedia, Rome2rio, Skyscanner and Qantas Business Travel.
Unlike much of the online world, Rod explains that the airport transfer marketplace is anything but last minute – due no doubt to the supplier technology, or lack of it – and bookings through Jayride are generally closed off 24 hours before the travel time.
Rod says the goal is to open in all 2700 airports with international passenger numbers above 25,000 a year.
How soon that will happen he can’t say, and is just focusing on the present.
There’s enough going on, what with managing growth and juggling cash flow at what is still a very modest operation, in terms of size, not ambition.
Jayride’s turnover – that is transaction volume – for the September quarter was $3.14 million.
Passenger trips booked for the period reached 70,000 while revenue came in at $815,000, an increase of 81% over the previous corresponding period.
Margins are good at 26% due to Jayride operating a merchant model, negotiating net wholesale rates with suppliers before marking up to consumers (protected by a best rate guarantee).
Investors seem relatively content – nothing that wasn’t predicted has happened – and the share price, while at times volatile – was most recently trading at 47 cents, just below the listing price of 50 cents, giving it a market capitalisation of around $25m.
But the fact is that scaling up burns cash, and Jayride is losing money.
In the same three month period Jayride spent almost $1 million of its cash reserve and had $2.53 million in the bank at September 30.
Rod says Jayride has enough cash to fund the present rate of growth for another year and the ability to slow its spend.
Yet it seems inevitable that at some point Jayride will have to go to the market for more funding.
But Rod is sanguine on the subject and when asked doesn’t answer directly.
“We haven’t announced anything in particular about plans for new capital,” he says.
“More generally though, transport technology as an industry has a lot of new capital flowing into the space.
“You can see everything from car OEMs investing in mobility services, to Booking Holdings investing in ride sharing apps.
“It’s an exciting time to be in the industry.”