Luxury Uber alternative Wheely, a ride-hailing company that’s aimed toward more affluent customers and has drivers that arrive in high-end Mercedes-Benz vehicles, wants to raise $30 million so it can continue to expand its business into the U.S. and Asia, according to a report by CNBC.
The company is currently available for rides in three European regions: Moscow, London and Paris. The company’s founder, CEO Anton Chirkunov, said he wanted to get the funding next year, and spend the rest of this year focusing on Europe.
Wheely has its sights set on Chicago, Los Angeles and New York, as well as Tokyo, Seoul, Osaka and Shanghai in Asia. There are no plans for a specific city to start the expansion just yet, but Chirkunov said he will invest about $10 million in each new city.
“This year, we’re focused on building out the business in Europe. There are some milestones we want to reach,” Chirkunov said. “Realistically after that we would say it’s time to do another fundraise — a slightly larger one — and to expand beyond Europe.”
The ride-hailing company said it averages about $110 million in gross bookings a year. The company overall is still losing money, but Chirkunov said it’s profitable in Moscow. So far, the company has raised $28 million.
Wheely started in Zurich as a data aggregation app to find taxis, like Booking.com. He was not happy with the taxi industry, and he said he had some bad experiences using taxis. He wanted to offer something better. He also said he uses his own app on a daily basis.
“These sorts of things basically led me to try to build something that I would like as a customer,” Chirkunov said. “I don’t have a car. I don’t drive. I don’t have any special arrangements with my company like a certain driver driving me.”