The Rise of Bolt

Born and raised in the quaint country of Estonia, a young Markus Villig was always fascinated with technology. The inception of tech giants like Skype in Estonia during the early 2000s further fuelled his interest. His brother, a Skype employee, greatly influenced Villig's passion for the tech industry.

In his teenage years, Villig delved deep into the world of software engineering and high-growth tech companies. He started a website-building venture and attended numerous tech events. His relentless pursuit of knowledge and experience in the tech world paved the way for the birth of Bolt.

Driving Forces Behind Bolt’s Creation

The conception of Bolt was not a sudden revelation. It was rather an amalgamation of several factors:

  1. The sheer enormity of the transportation industry intrigued Villig. He realised the potential opportunities in this sector, which was one of the largest consumer categories in the world.
  2. The rise in smartphone adoption was another factor. Villig was convinced that mobile apps were the future.
  3. Experiences of his brother using a web-based taxi ordering system in Ukraine also influenced his thought process.
  4. Lastly, the poor quality of local taxi services in Estonia was a significant pain point that Villig wanted to address.

Villig's vision took shape in the form of an app that aimed to revolutionise Estonia's transportation landscape. Thus, Bolt (initially known as mTakso) was born.

Initial Challenges: Rallying Drivers

Although customers were quick to sign up for the service, attracting drivers proved to be a considerable challenge. The local taxi-driving community was hesitant to adopt technology, making the task of onboarding drivers a formidable one. Despite facing numerous rejections, Villig's resolve remained unshaken. His persistent efforts eventually paid off as he managed to sign up 50 drivers.

Launching Bolt in Tallinn

With hundreds of customers on the waiting list and a team of drivers ready to hit the road, Villig set out to develop the mobile app. The initial version of the app was riddled with bugs and glitches. However, Villig didn't let these setbacks deter him. He worked tirelessly to rectify the issues and finally launched Bolt in Tallinn, Estonia, in August 2013.

Bolt's Impressive Growth

The initial days of Bolt were challenging, with the service only managing around 20 rides per day. However, Villig was confident that his creation would eventually gain traction. His belief bore fruit when Bolt became the local market leader within eight months of its launch, offering 50,000 rides a month.

In 2014, Bolt expanded its services to Latvia and continued its growth journey across Europe, eventually launching in Africa in 2016.

Making Urban Travel Sustainable

Villig's vision went beyond just providing convenient transportation. He aimed to transform urban mobility and reduce the reliance on personal cars. To this end, Bolt expanded into electric scooter provision in 2018.

In May 2021, Bolt furthered its commitment to sustainability by launching Bolt Drive, a car-sharing service. Today, Bolt Drive is operational in four European cities, with plans to expand its services worldwide.

Bolt Today and Beyond

Today, Bolt operates in over 500 cities across 45 countries in Europe, Africa, Western Asia, and Latin America. With millions of customers, the company continues to work towards making the world a better place and accelerating the shift from owned cars to shared mobility.

With services ranging from ride-hailing and shared cars to food and grocery delivery, Bolt is determined to offer more transport options to make our cities more liveable. The company shows no signs of slowing down and continues to innovate and expand its services.


From its humble beginnings to its current status as a mobility giant, Bolt's journey is a testament to the power of innovation, perseverance, and a clear vision. Despite the challenges it faced, the company has proven that with determination and an unwavering commitment to its mission, success is inevitable.

The story of Bolt serves as an inspiration to entrepreneurs worldwide, reminding us that with the right mindset and approach, we can overcome any obstacle and achieve our goals. As Bolt continues to transform urban mobility and make our cities more liveable, we eagerly anticipate what the future holds for this dynamic company.

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