Dubbing itself as Australia’s only women-friendly ride-sharing platform, Shebah has rolled out nationally in Australia and is gearing up to launch into the New Zealand market amid a range of tech upgrades on the back of a what it says is a 190% increase on number of users year-on-year.
The company says capital raised will enable it to grow its geographical footprint in Australia, launch into the New Zealand market and embark on some “bold user experience improvements” after rapid growth in 2018.
The privately-owned company was founded by Melburnian George McEncroe and pitches its services as promising women safe transportation without harassment.
But, the company says that despite strong growth, venture capital has been hard to come by.
According to McEncroe, sexism is rife among potential lenders.
“What we decided to do was bring the fruits of our success into the hands of the women who helped us grow; our drivers and our passengers,” McEncroe says.
McEncroe claims Shebah has experienced an 8% jump per month throughout 2018, and a whopping 190% increase on 2017.
The company says it turned over $1.8 million in 2018, up from $500,000 in 2017.
McEncroe says the Australian rideshare industry is worth $290 million and the taxi industry is worth $6 billion, and Shebah is targeting women and children in both categories.
“The business world just doesn’t understand how difficult it is for women founders to raise funds to grow their respective businesses,” McEncroe said.
“People say there’s investment money around, but it’s being held by male gatekeepers who just can’t accept what it’s like for women to travel in other rideshares or taxis and feel the kind of fear a man would never feel if they were in the same scenario.
“The scenario is more proof of the sexism toward women-owned startups – particularly those that service a women-only customer base.
“Men perhaps don’t understand what it is like to sit in the back seat.
“And if women are coming home late, they don’t know the city they’re in very well, or have had a few drinks, they still have the right to get home safely and without feeling dread or fear.”