Montreal’s Busbud Spending the Spring in NY to Work on Bus Travel App
Making his way south from Montreal, Busbud CEO Louis-Philippe Maurice arrived in New York in March along with a handful of other Canadian digital media startups, as part of the Canadian Technology Accelerator program called CTA@NYC.
“The idea is to accelerate business development and to expand the reach of your business into the United States,” he says.
For Montreal-based Busbud, that means expanding its service, which provides online and mobile info on bus travel, to more cities. Maurice and Busbud’s chief technology officer, Michael Gradek, will be in New York at least through June working out of General Assembly. Startups in the CTA program are being put in contact with mentors and angel investors in the city. Maurice says he is considering establishing a branch office in New York once Busbud completes the program—especially since Gradek is a native of the city.
Busbud, founded in 2011 and backed by angel investors, is a Web platform and app for intercity bus travel information around the globe. Rivals in this space include Boston’s Wanderu. Bus companies that want use Busbud as a means to reach more customers can submit their schedules to the startup, or the platform can be connected to their databases.
The service offers details in 10 languages, particularly for travelers who visit cities outside their familiar stomping grounds. Currently, Busbud provides information for bus routes to 4,000 cities in 60 countries, with North and South America seeing the highest concentration of activity. “About 30 percent of our users are from Brazil,” Maurice says.
In fact it was a trip across South America that led to the idea for Busbud. “I was traveling by bus in Argentina and Brazil and realized all the obstacles customers face when they travel abroad,” Maurice says, “whether it’s language barriers, currencies, or lack of information.” He wanted to create an app to take the pain out of bus trips between cities, along with other travel woes.
For example, bus stations tend to be the primary sellers of tickets, Maurice says, which can mean standing around in line waiting. Busbud, he says, can be an online bus station for travelers around the world. The platform lets consumers look up schedules and rates for bus trips in any country, he says, though not for public transit. “There are already a lot of great tools provided by the cities,” Maurice says. Google Maps, for instance, and other apps offer information for navigating public transport systems within cities.
In January, Busbud released the first version of its app, which can find bus companies that serve the routes users want, and filter by prices, duration of the rides, and departure times. Maurice says ticket booking through the platform is in the works. “We are selling tickets in Canada for Orleans Express, the No. 2 player in the country for bus travel,” he says. Maurice expects to soon announce plans to sell tickets on behalf of other companies; Busbud would receive commissions on those sales.
Maurice believes his startup can fill a void in the travel market for bus-based trips between cities. Websites and apps tend to focus on airlines and hotel booking rather than bus rides, according to him. “There haven’t been many [Web and software] tools focused on the bus industry,” Maurice says.