We distinctly remember the day in 2012 when Nir Erez and Roy Bick pitched Moovit’s plan to improve public transportation. Nir’s evangelism was as powerful then as it is today. The picture he drew remains vivid: Public transportation is a large and underserved market. There are nearly 8 billion people in the world and fewer than 1 billion passenger cars. For the vast majority of the global population, public transportation is not a want, but a need. At the same time, public transportation information is fragmented and service levels vary depending on providers and geographies. Moovit is building a global informational and navigational service for public transportation.
We loved the mission and the founding team’s charisma left a lasting impression. Unfortunately, we initially failed to dream of a viable business model so we passed. A year later, with more support for the vision and the conviction of the founders even stronger, we corrected our mistake and invested in Moovit’s Series A from both our Israel and US funds.
Today, Moovit is one of the world’s best-known Israeli-based companies, with over 800 million people using its public transit navigation app, available in 45 languages, 3,100 cities, and 102 countries. In addition to the free mobile app, Moovit provides public transportation information and mobility-as-a-service solutions to mobility and ridesharing companies, and municipal authorities to help improve public transportation.
It wasn’t straightforward and it was never easy. The problems Moovit found and set out to solve were devilishly complex. Public transportation is controlled by opaque and slow-moving municipalities. There is a web of private mobility providers, such as bike, scooter, and ride-sharing companies. Layered on top are the competing interests of map services.
But methodically and creatively, Moovit began putting the pieces together. First, the company found product-market fit by starting small and focusing on consumers in Tel Aviv. Second, it built a community of local editors and tools for them to help self-manage the ongoing changes and update transit information in cities around the world. Third, it grew the user base, mostly organically. Fourth, it found a distinctive business model after much trial and error. Eventually, we came back to the core information asset Moovit built over the years. We found revenue-market fit by providing information and multi-modal trip planning to mobility and ridesharing companies and municipal authorities. That made it possible to quickly scale the company’s revenue.
Moovit’s high-performing and enduring culture allows the team to keep adapting to changing conditions. When the coronavirus outbreak created a significant global reduction in public transportation services, Moovit’s team adjusted to providing a customizable platform to help operators and cities around the world adhere to local regulations and provide on-demand mobility services to essential employees, automatically determining their optimal route.
It’s remarkable to think that starting small and focusing intensely on the travel needs of a single city (Tel Aviv) allowed Moovit to solve problems that have vexed the world. By sharing information and making day-to-day travel simpler, the company has improved the lives of hundreds of millions of people around the globe and that’s just the beginning.
Today’s announcement is a testament to Moovit’s commitment to turning its mission into reality and to the wonderful company that they built along the way. On behalf of Team Sequoia, congratulations to Nir, Roy, and the entire Moovit team. We’re excited to see how you will take Moovit’s mission to the next level.
This post was originally published on Sequoia's Medium publication.