Bolt will expand its fast grocery service to Sweden, Poland and the Czech Republic by January after entering the booming business of couriering drinks and snacks to users earlier this year.
Bolt’s founder Markus Villig raised $600 million from investors in August in a bid to reposition the ride-hailing startup as a “super-app” covering taxis, scooters, short-term car rentals, food delivery, and now fast commerce.
The Tallinn, Estonia-based startup already ships groceries via couriers in seven European countries but will expand further into Eastern Europe and Scandinavia in 2022.
In the Czech Republic, Bolt will face competition from local rivals like Rohlik, and Wolt, which was acquired by DoorDash for $8.1 billion in November.
Villig says Bolt would be able to build out its grocery delivery network faster and more efficiently, thanks to the infrastructure it already had in place to support ride-hailing and electric scooter hire.
“It is much easier for us to add new products on top of that platform rather than building that all out from scratch,” says Villig, CEO and cofounder of Bolt. “So that is why from the outside it looks like we are expanding to so many countries at such a rapid pace—we would never be able to do this if this was our only product.”
Bolt was founded by the then 19-year-old in 2013 by individually signing up Tallinn’s taxi drivers for a prototype of his ride-hailing app.
While Villig and his cofounder brother Martin Villig struggled initially to raise venture capital funding, the electric scooter and fast grocery markets have internationally attracted tens of billions of dollars of investments in recent years.
“When we look at these other players, they raised more funding for only scooters than we have raised for our company in aggregate but our scooter business is bigger. We operate in more cities, more scooters, and this year we’ll do more rides,” says Villig.