- Posted by Myrto Papathanou
- On January 21, 2020
With over half a million ferry tickets sold and 2062 routes in 10 countries, Ferryhopper closed 2019 growing 400% YoY. It is now the market leader in Greece and expanding fast to Spain and Italy, in a bid to conquer the Mediterranean in 2020 before moving to the rest of the world. It has reached a headcount of 30, up 8fold from just 2 years ago. Ferryhopper is gearing up to become the global leader in ferry bookings in the next 3-5 years.
Our investment in Ferryhopper is an a-typical one for Metavallon VC. We usually focus on B2B plays, with a strong technology component and generally don’t invest in e-commerce or marketplaces, under which you would classify a platform selling ferry tickets. So why this outlier investment and why have we such faith in what this team is building?
1. It is solving a real problem
People use sea transportation to move for business or leisure and they have awful experiences doing that. Current solutions, unable to sort out back end issues, are delivering a suboptimal product that is leading to customer frustration. Ferryhopper has created an amazing product with complete coverage, multi hop journeys, great UI/ UX, seamless integration with other transportation means (ground, air) and great customer service.
2. Large market, up for taking
The global ferry market is over $10bn, with a third of it in Europe. It however remains fragmented, very localized with no go-to-player offering a standardized customer experience. The trend in tourism is clearly for delivering end-to-end, travel agency – style solutions to independent travelers, evidenced by large investments in Tourlane and Omio in Europe but also other transportation verticals, such as busbud. The Ferryhopper team is flawlessly delivering on the sea transportation part of the chain.
3. Right timing
What happened in the air travel market years ago is about to happen in the other transportation markets. The ferry market is often paper ticket led; in Greece alone, less than 20% of the market was digitalized in 2017, a figure that reached up to 30% in 2019. Traditional companies are not utilizing technology solutions to solve back end issues dealing with availability and routes, leading to confusing and expensive customer experiences, while there are hardly any specialized aggregators. Ferryhopper has timed its market entry right, focused and dominated the local market and is now fast scaling in other geographies and across product offerings.
4. Right approach to business
We see startups in the B2C space become so disillusioned and caught up in becoming a “tech” company that they forget that the basic business model and unit economics need to work. For a commodity based business, being lean, regardless of the availability of capital, is make-or-break. Product and Tech need to work and business needs to be coming in in a cost-conscious model. Simply put: Sort out your shop. Play the long tail game in marketing and trust content. Become viable. Use external financing to fuel extraordinary growth. Roll out fast. Execute flawlessly. This is exactly what the Ferryhopper guys are doing.
5. Complete team
It is very rare to see a truly complete team on day one. Usually at the early stages, the entrepreneur duo VCs expect is a business and a tech person. As the company grows, other key members come in and this is usually when you see lags or inability to deliver on the business plan. Business Development and Product are absolutely fundamental to move any company forward and but not always obvious to source. The founders Christos, Vassilis, Panagiotis and Aiden came in with the complete set – CEO, Tech lead, Product Lead, Business development lead. They are joined by a strong head of finance and a head of operations that grew internally. In terms of team development, in a few months Ferryhopper has covered ground it takes others years to.
Stay aboard, cause Ferryhopper is going places!