Finnish MaaS Global, the owner of the Whim app, has just acquired the Brazilian startup Quicko. The two companies have very similar operating models – they aggregate information on different transport options in one place – but Maas came first, pioneering the concept of mobility as a service (hence the name of the company), having started operating in 2015.
Whim is currently available in Austria (Vienna), Belgium (Antwerp), Finland (Helsinki, Turku), Japan (Tokyo), Switzerland (Nationwide), and the United Kingdom (Birmingham). If for the Finnish company the acquisition of Quicko is an important step towards another (and gigantic) market, for the Brazilian startup it is the opportunity to monetize its user base more quickly.
In an interview with LABS, Quicko’s CEO, Pedro Somma, said that the relationship between the two companies has been going on for a long time, as Whim and MaaS inspired the creation of the Brazilian startup. “For us to be part of a global brand that launched the concept of mobility as a service makes perfect sense. (…) We have been working to increase the base and add more services. In addition to public transport, we have Tembici and 99 as partners, for example, and we know that it would take us a while to tie it all together. In Finland, Maas already bundles all of this into a subscription model. On the other hand, we have a scripting work [of routes] which is something they don’t have. The exchange of technology is very relevant.”
According to Somma, Quicko is already the leading app for the purchase of credits for public transport in Salvador (a city at Northeast of Brazil) and also offers the same service em Sao Paulo, but Quicko’s major goal is to build a truly integrated platform in line with what Whim already offers in Finland. “So, we are also taking the deal’s announcement as an opportunity to talk with other private partners and municipalities. We also want to launch new business models later this year, a subscription-based package of services for our users”.
Today, Quicko makes money by keeping a percentage of the transport sales. With new business models, it wants to diversify those earnings and, even better, make them recurring.
Currently, Quicko has more than 500,000 users — the base grew 15 times in 2021 — and operates in eight Brazilian metropolitan regions (São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Salvador, Porto Alegre, Curitiba, Fortaleza, and Campinas). The app launched in 2019 in São Paulo has already reached more than 100 Brazilian cities.
Somma did not reveal the value of the deal but said that the idea is for the two companies to be one, with 130 employees distributed in four headquarters: Helsinki, Madrid, São Paulo, and Tokyo. About the brands, nothing has been decided yet. At first, nothing will change for the Brazilian users, who will continue to see Quicko’s brand on their smartphones.
Both companies are highly capitalized at the moment. In August last year, Maas announced an extension of its €29.5m Series B raised in November 2019, bringing the round to a total of €40.5m. With the round, Ferrovial and Tesi joined existing company investors NordicNinja and Mitsui Fudosan. Since its founding, the Finnish company has raised €65 million in external funding.
Also last year, Quicko announced a Series B of BRL 100 million led by CCR Group and with participation by J2L Partners – the same investors responsible for the startup‘s $10 million Series A, raised in 2018, and who will become shareholders from Maas Global.
“We believe Brazil can make a digital leap, hop over the car ownership stage, and take Brazilians straight to the MaaS services. This would improve the well-being of the people, resolve cities’ traffic problems and provide an efficient way to cut down CO2 emissions. As the most recent IPCC report* stated, we are already experiencing the impacts of climate change, which makes the need for action even more urgent. Together with Quicko, we want to provide the people in Brazil a more equitable and sustainable freedom of mobility than car ownership can,” said Sampo Hietanen, CEO and Founder of MaaS Global, in a press statement.