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World-first ground and sea transportation group launches, backed with $46 million funding

by Wanda Rich
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Figure 1 Left to right: Omer Chechmer (COO and co-founder), Noam Toister (CEO and founder) and David Yitzhaki (CMO and co-founder)

Created by the forward-thinking founders of Bookaway, the Bookaway Group is uniting complementary transportation operators across the world to work collaboratively – addressing a major circuit break in the online travel booking process. In the midst of a global pandemic, Bookaway has ignited an ambition between some of the world’s leading brands to unite in the face of adversity, as well as generating strong support from loyal investors.

First to join the Bookaway Group are Getbybus, renowned for offering tens of thousands of routes in and around the Balkans and Western Europe, and 12Go, offering the largest network of local transport options in and around South East Asia. Together with Bookaway, the Bookaway Group opens access to more than 100,000 transport routes, customer reviews and round-the-clock support in 14,600 cities across 80 countries globally.

The Bookaway Group aims to bridge the gap between travellers and local transport suppliers globally, enabling travellers to find and book transport options anywhere in the world, no matter what language they speak or how remote the destination is.

In less than four years, Bookaway has grown from a small Tel Aviv start-up to one of the world’s leading ground transportation companies – with further plans to expand in the USA, China and Latin American markets.

Noam Toister, CEO and founder of Bookaway, said: “Currently 95% of the ground transportation industry is offline, meaning travellers waste precious time and money trying to navigate their journey on the ground, having booked their flights, hotel and experiences online. Local transport suppliers are being left behind the rest of the travel industry.

“The Bookaway Group mission is to make bus, train or ferry travel an effortless experience. Finding, comparing and booking tickets is entirely online, and customers receive 24/7 support, helping to ease traveller anxiety.

“We are privileged to join forces with two major brands, Getbybus and 12Go, each bringing with them the skills, knowledge and reach that complement our global growth mission. By working as one, we aim to bring back the liberation of travel.”

Getbybus launched in 2014, initially as a bus route information website in Croatia, until demand for online booking fuelled the success of the platform. Morten Smalby, CEO of Getbybus, said: “Changing this market is not an easy process as these businesses have operated offline for so long. We’ve dedicated years to building trust with suppliers, proving the benefits of operating online, and the platform has grown organically as a result.”

“Thanks to this partnership within the Bookaway Group, we are looking forward to sharing resources and skills to expand our customer base further, and gain more opportunities in regions such as Asia, the USA and South America.“

Initially a resource to book and compare bus journeys in Thailand, 12Go has grown immensely over the past 11 years. Alexey Abolmasov, Founder of 12Go said: “By presenting all the transport options, along with over 250,000 customer reviews, we give control back to the customer to make the right decision for their need, whether it’s based on budget, comfort or even how much luggage they have. Joining the Bookaway Group enables us to expedite growth as we work together to provide a seamless transportation booking service worldwide.”

Backed by $46 million investment

Bookaway was founded in 2017 on a passion for travel “by travellers, for travellers” by Noam Toister (CEO and founder) and life-long friends and business partners; David Yitzhaki (CMO and co-founder) and Omer Chehmer (COO and co-founder).

The company prides itself on a strong relationship with investors who share in its values, including a group of angels led by Elad Kushnir, Aleph (one of the first investors in WeWork and House Party), Corner Ventures (investors in Yelp, Grubhub and Wix.com), and Entrée Capital (investors in monday.com, Stripe and Snapchat).

Bookaway has secured $35m Series B funding to launch the Bookaway Group, following $11m Seed and Series A funding raised since 2018. Leading Israeli investor, Aleph, has been a loyal supporter since 2019.

Michael Eisenberg, Co-founder of Aleph, said of the creation of the Bookaway Group: “The Bookaway founders have impressed us from the beginning, not only with their ingenuity, but also with their passion and values. Humble and resilient in the midst of a global pandemic, the trio presented a map that no one in the travel industry has described before, particularly for the harder-to-reach areas of the world. We believe the Bookaway Group will help people to see more parts of the world, experience different cultures, meet different people, and ultimately be better humans.”

For more information about the Bookaway Group, visit: https://bookawaygroup.com/.