ChinaTravelNews - Overseas Chinese-language airport transfer and vehicle charter service Huanbaoche announced that SSC Fund, Gobi Partners, China United Fund and Zuoyu Capital invested RMB48 million (approx: US$7.5 million) in its Series A financing round.
Huanbaoche's website displays cars for hire in overseas destinations
ChinaTravelNews interviewed Huanbaoche’s founder and CEO Lei Meng, Gobi Partners' partner Tao Jiang, and Zuoyu Capital's founder Weidong Hu following the announcement.
Standardized service on a P2P platform
Huanbaoche was established in December 2014 describing itself with the slogan "Travel the world by Chinese-language charter vehicle”. In April 2015, it launched airport transfer and charter vehicle travel service online in over 400 cities in Southeast Asia, Europe, America and Japan, offering Chinese users the driver and guide service with a network of 1,000 drivers.
Mr. Meng said: “Unlike the highly standardized air ticket and hotel booking segments, it’s hard to find a standardized vehicle charter provider at destinations. If we can standardize charter vehicle service and add air ticket and hotel booking, we will have a premium independent travel solution.”
Mr. Meng is a young entrepreneur who already has several travel startups under his belt, such as the high-end business travel brand Wokee that specializes in first-class international flight and business-class air ticket bookings. He then sold Wokee and started Huanbaoche as an overseas shuttle service, drawing on his experience gained over the years in travel business startups.
Although Huanbaoche has its own Wechat service account and app, its main sales channels are the major OTA platforms - Alitrip and Ctrip.
Huanbaoche positions itself as a P2P platform with private car owners offering guide service to users. In a previous interview with ChinaTravelNews, Mr. Meng said 60% of its listed driver-guides signed contracts independently and the rest are provided by local tour operator partners. “We have signed up a large number of professional driver-guides as well as overseas Chinese and students living locally. Their skill level will quickly Improve to meet demand and they will become excellent guides providing added value and enriched service solutions,” he said.
Huanbaoche also set up a B2B system, “Partner Sharing”, that distributes its huge pool of overseas charter vehicle resources to tour operator and agent partners.
Investors impressed by high growth
Mr. Jiang said Gobi partners were impressed with Huanbaoche’s strong leadership and sound business practices. He said they expect Huanbaoche’s revenue for September to exceed RMB10 million. He said the quick growth and globalization of its service network to over 400 cities with 6,800 driver-guides in just six months is proof of the startup’s core competence.
Mr. Meng said the latest financing round will be used for further expansion. The company will also explore potential in overseas markets, upgrade its technology and research big data as well as boost its presence on major platforms like Alitrip. It plans to add 11 overseas branches within the year and achieve a global service network linking America, Europe, Asia and Africa with 40,000 listed driver-guides. He estimates that it will achieve at least RMB500 million in sales by the end of 2015.(Translation by David)