TRAFI founder Martynas Gudonavicius: ‘The more chaotic the city, the better for us’

    Many of us are spoiled to have our phones do a lot of things for us, like telling us public transport route information when commuting or traveling. However, this is still not as easy in developing countries. Landing there and finding out that there is no way to plan your route electronically is unpleasantly sorbering but luckily, this is exactly what Lithuanian public transport app TRAFI is set out to solve with their next funding round.

    TRAFI is a Lithuanian app started by a strong team of four that had first entered public transport arena six years ago, when they established in Lithuania. In 2013 Martynas met Donatas Keras from Practica Capital. In two months they has a deal for their first investment.

    ‘We are used to working with very early stage companies and expect to help our teams a lot,’ Donatas explains. ‘They usually need new hires, a clearer vision, technical help. In case of TRAFI we had a very strong 4 guy team, a clear vision and real roadmap from day 1. We worked together on the investment, decided when we will go for an A round, looked at local and global competition, what markets to go to first. It was a truly strategic work with dedicated, global-minded founders.”

    TRAFI took off in Lithuania and has quickly expanded to Latvia and Estonia. With last years’ $500,000 seed round led by Practica Capital they have done a great job clearing the public transport mess in Turkey. Additionally, they used the World Cup hype rather well to launch in Brazil, too.

    Recently some new funds invested in TRAFI. You can already see the app featured in the BaltCap portfolio since August 2014 and more investments are to be announced soon. The #1 focus is expansion to emerging markets and TRAFI team is now raising another round for that. Martynas Gudonavicius also adds that they are on their outlook for the most chaotic cities in the world.

    ‘We are purely focused on emerging markets and that is where our expansion will be in the upcoming 12 months.The more chaotic the city – the better for us.’ explains Martynas. ‘ Istanbul, for example, is one of the most complex cities in terms of public transportation. Seamlessly helping Turkish people deal with Bosphorus, two bridges, never ending traffic jams and 8 different public transport types makes TRAFI an amazing value for our commuters there.’

    TRAFI has put huge efforts into technology that lets them gather data where more established players like Google transit or companies that solely rely on open data like Citymapper and Hopstop cannot thread. TRAFI does not specify the exact technology, however, they claim that can enable TRAFI to scale and enter any city in the world without a need for open data.

    ‘We analyse enormous amount of data in the backend before we show results to the users.’ explains TRAFI CTO Jurgis Pasukonis. ‘Quality and accuracy is absolutely critical in our business.’

    The average age of team members is 30 years, with CEO Martynas Gudonavicius being the youngest but also the most ambitious. It is also interesting to note that before establishing TRAFI all its founders were living abroad. Following the investment from Practica Capital they have returned to Lithuania and even hired some more Lithuanians to come back from Google. An advisor from Soundcloud has already joined the board and they are adding more people to their team soon.

    Marija Odineca is passionate about Baltic startup scene, visiting interesting Baltic startups and gathering their stories. She also coordinates the Global Entrepreneurship Week in Latvia.