JAKARTA: Go-Jek, the Indonesian ride-hailing start-up that has Chinese tech giant Tencent as one of its backers, is ramping up its challenge to Singapore-based Grab with plans to expand into four new markets in Southeast Asia.

The company announced in a statement this week that it will spend $500m on its international expansion strategy and that it intends to enter Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines within the next few months.

Go-Jek said it would start with ride-hailing in these markets before moving into other business areas that have made it the market leader in Indonesia, where it is active in food delivery, mobile payments and financial technology.

That is expected to sharpen its competitive edge with Grab, which offers a similar range of services, especially in Grab’s home base of Singapore, the richest country in the region.

Go-Jek said it would provide technological support and expertise to local teams in each of the four new markets and that these local companies would “determine their own brands and identities”.

“Consumers are happiest when they have choice and at the moment, people in Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines don’t feel that they’re getting enough when it comes to ride-hailing,” said Nadiem Makarim, CEO and co-founder of Go-Jek.

“We hope that as we arrive in new markets, we will quickly become everyone’s go-to lifestyle app. That is our aspiration,” he added. “In the meantime, we hope our presence will provide the welcome competition markets need to thrive.”

Go-Jek’s initiative is the latest salvo in the increasingly competitive Asia ride-hailing market and comes just three months after it announced it had raised $1.5bn in new funds from a dozen investors, which were reported at the time to include Google.

“Our most recent funding saw the addition of a significant number of strategic investors both Indonesian and global,” explained Andre Soelistyo, Go-Jek’s president.

“We are therefore confident that we have the support needed to take one of the most amazing growth stories in the world from being an Indonesian phenomenon to a regional one.”

Further details about the company's international expansion plans were outlined recently by its CMO, Piotr Jakubowski, who told delegates at the Asia Pacific Media Forum that its successs can be attributed to it consistently rewriting the rule book. (For more, including the vital role of technology, read WARC's in-depth report: Go-Jek rewrites the rules for high growth.)

Sourced from Go-Jek, Reuters; additional content by WARC staff