Ready, Set, Expand: Blacklane Launches in the UK

100 cities in 100 days. That is how Berlin-based chauffeur portal Blacklane describes its rapid expansion spree that has led to its current presence in 130 cities across 45 countries. To reach these numbers, the startup announced today its expansion to eight more cities with its official launch in the UK.

Users can book a ride through Blacklane via its app, website, or hotline. It does not own its own fleet but instead aggregates the excess capacity of local partners. The startup explains that business travelers drive bookings, as they are looking for a one-stop-shop to organize their premium transport around the world.

In an interview, we asked Blacklane Cofounder Jens Wohltorf about the challenges of scaling quickly to new markets. “It involved a lot of homework that we had to prepare,” says Wohltorf. In the beginning, Wohltorf faced questions like: “Are we well known in the cities we are about to launch in? Do people know our brand? How can we select the right partners? But because of our size and our launches we are in the good and comfortable situation that we are well-known when we are about to launch in new markets such as what we have just done in Budapest and Shanghai.”

Blacklane is not the only chauffeur portal with an expansion mission. Competitor Uber raised $258 million in funding last year from Google Ventures and Texas Pacific Group Capital and is currently present in 87 cities including Manchester and London in the UK. When asked about the competitive landscape, Wohltorf acknowledged that “there are a bunch of those services basically competing in the same market. What Blacklane was always built on was not the on-demand world but a reliable on-order market. We are positioning ourselves to be the ideal travel companion for all business travelers – when they are booking their hotels and when they are booking their flights.”

Wohltorf says that expansion will no longer be the sole focus now that Blacklane has “basically covered the entire world.” Its plans to go deeper into its markets to acquire new customers and partners. In Berlin, Backlane chauffeured smarts are currently on the road for a limited test period. As for the potential of the other Blacklane markets, Wohltorf maintains “we have only scratched the surface.”