GoZayaan acquires Pakistani travel-tech platform
GoZayaan has acquired Pakistan-based FindMyAdventure, making it the first travel technology platform in Bangladesh to take over any company beyond its borders.
The local start-up says its expansion overseas was in tune with its aim to play a key role in shaping the future of travel in the South Asian region, paving a path for tech-enabled innovative solutions.
The core reason for acquiring a Pakistani platform is the similarity in geography, internet penetration and user behaviour in terms of travel booking.
For this acquisition, GoZayaan raised an undisclosed amount in extended seed funding backed by existing investors Nordstar Partners, DST Global Managing Partner Saurabh Gupta and PAYBACK Founder Alexander Rittweger.
Its $2.6 million seed round closed last year led by Wavemaker Partners and joined by venture capital firms Ratio Venture, 1982 VC, Iterative, Century Oak Capital along with current and former Airbnb executives.
Go Zayaan's pre-seed funding was raised from Brac Osiris Impact Ventures.
"Bangladesh has the potential to create not just local, but also regional or global companies. We are going to try exactly that," Ridwan Hafiz, CEO of GoZayaan, told The Daily Star.
"This unlocks a total addressable market for us which is massive because together, Bangladesh and Pakistan constitute 5 per cent of the world's total population. We said we were going to create the future of travel; well, the future starts now," he said.
The acquisition also signals a boom in new travel agencies in the South Asian market, it said in a statement.
GoZayaan's plan is to cater to more customers with a better user experience and technological support and offer more digital solutions to make travel more convenient.
STORY OF GOZAYAAN
Travelling to several countries, Hafiz realised that the destinations could use a wide range of services through online platforms such as Expedia, Booking.com and Klook -- services that are unavailable in Bangladesh.
When travellers in Bangladesh book a trip through offline agencies, they miss out on two elements -- control over customising their travel and the lack of clear-cut information.
In August 2017, Ridwan founded Go Zayaan to address this void and put travellers in charge of their travel plans. It has since been trying to build up an end-to-end automated travel booking system.
"Bangladesh has a huge potential in the travel market. However, a big chunk of the industry is dominated by offline agencies," said Hafiz.
"GoZayaan's goal is to bring a shift in this market by converting the market from offline to online with innovative tech-driven solutions."
The main products of GoZayaan are booking domestic and international flights and hotels and inter-city bus tickets and arranging local tours. Its supporting services include booking Covid-19 tests for international travellers and arranging travel loans and insurance.
On how the pandemic affected the overall travel-tech market, he said it was devastating for Bangladesh's travel industry.
Industry insiders reported a drop in business of more than 50 per cent with hotels, transportation and travel companies barely being able to stay operational.
"However, the company's passion for solving problems through rapid technology adoption was proven when it saw near 10 times growth over the year 2021 - a time when tourism was at its lowest due to the pandemic," said Hafiz.
He said GoZayaan took the pandemic as an opportunity, finding out that people in Bangladesh had become more inclined at travelling around the country.
GoZayaan capitalised on this.
It partnered with over 400 hotels across the nation, on-boarded inter-city bus firms and brought about tours in prominent tourist destinations.
The company has all the domestic airlines -- Novoair, US-Bangla Airlines and Biman Bangladesh Airlines -- on its platform.
Starting with only five employees, it now employs about 100 people.