Transit group Swvl confirms estimated $100 million acquisition of British startup Zeelo

Transit group Swvl has confirmed to TechCrunch its deal to buy British startup Zeelo, valued at $100 million, sources say.

The Egyptian-born startup that provides shared transport services for inter-city and intra-city travel, recently expanded to Turkey with its acquisition Volt lines. Earlier this year he went public (NASDAQ: SWVL) through a SPAC.

The deal to acquire Zeelo, which claims to be the UK’s largest ‘smart bus’ platform for manual workers and students, comes on top of Swvl’s recent acquisitions of Viapool and Shotl, as well as to the announced acquisitions of Volt Lines and door2door.

The deal means Swvl will be able to expand into the UK, South Africa and the US through Zeelo’s footprint, which has over 160 staff based in the UK and Barcelona.

Zeelo’s model is to move from single-occupant vehicles to zero-emission public transport to workplaces. The acquisition is expected to be completed in May 2022.

Mostafa Kandil, founder and CEO of Swvl, said in a statement:

Swvl was founded on the belief that accessible transportation is key to unlocking economic opportunity. Swvl and Zeelo share a vision and mission to provide reliable transportation that gets passengers where they need to go in an affordable, safe and environmentally friendly way.

The company says the transaction will expand Swvl’s B2B offering with a managed TaaS (transportation as a service) platform that connects passengers through their employers and schools to operators and drivers; a SaaS licensing platform for third-party fleet operators; partnerships with existing fleet partners (such as 200 bus operators in the UK and US).

Sam Ryan, Founder and CEO of Zeelo, added:

Swvl is revolutionizing the transit industry and we are excited to partner with them in this next phase… Bus transportation done right with technology can take us beyond our dependence on cars and taxis who are not suitable for travel from non-urban areas…especially shift workers, professionals and students living in transport-poor areas in developed markets.

Swvl and Zeelo, and the better known Via in the United States or FlixBus in Germany, hope to disrupt the public transport industry with their private bus booking platform. This means that buses are more responsive to demand than regular routes. There is also an environmental angle as it takes private cars off the road. Shares of Swvl, valued at $850 million, fell amid the broader plunge in tech stocks.

Zeelo was founded by two British entrepreneurs who sold their startup to Addison Lee in 2014.

He raised $19.6 million in total. The latest round was a $12 million Series A round led by ETF Partners (Environmental Technologies Fund) with participation from InMotion Ventures (Jaguar Land Rover’s venture capital fund) and Dynamo (a private equity investor -US-based venture in mobility and supply chain), which closed in August 2021. Angel investors include Liam Griffin (CEO Addison Lee), who served as the company’s first backer.

Melvin Z. Madore