MONTEREY, Calif. — Thomas Geissmann travelled all the way from Montreal to the beautiful Central Californian coast, with its kelp forests and sea otters, to talk about buses.
“We are going after bus companies all over the world,” the softspoken Canadian, who was born in France, told VentureBeat, while sitting on a couch in the lobby of the InterContinental Hotel.
Geissmann, 31, is the chief revenue officer and general council for BusBud, a Canadian startup with big plans to streamline the world’s fragmented bus routes. In other words, BusBud allows travelers to find a bus, plot routes, and book bus tickets all over the world.
BusBud is nothing if not aggressive — and its convinced there’s a big market for bus tickets. No need to laugh. The company is expanding routes in the thriving bus markets of Brazil, India, and Turkey, all countries where buses are the preferred methods of travel.
BusBud is gaining traction with the world’s bus minded travelers. It is selling “thousands” of tickets every month in 90 countries and 10,000 cities. Those shopping for tickets on the website buy with their own currencies. Easy. And BusBud is doing well in Europe, North America, and South America, Geissmann said.
Geissmann said buses are the number one method of travel for people throughout the globe. Travelers purchase 350 million bus tickets every year in Mexico alone, Geissman said, referring to the extensive data trawling BusBud has done.
The startup launched earlier this year. Is has more than a million customers so far, and that number is growing. BusBud has signed contracts with 100 bus companies spread across the world.
Not bad for a a guy who was living in a cramped two bedroom apartment in Montreal with BudBud’s three founders seven months ago.
BusBud now has 25 employees operating out of a 6,000 square-foot loft in Montreal’s hip Mile End neighborhood. The startup has previously raised $1.5 million in venture funding.
As it turns out, the global bus industry lacks a unified global portal for people whose primary method of traveling is by bus.
“The bus industry is highly fragmented. It lacks standards of technology and format. There’s more people searching [Google] for bus information … than airplanes,” Geissmann said.
The BusBud team spent considerable energy and resources researching global bus routes, traveler behavior, and the world’s countries where the bus is utilized more than train or plane. Geissman said his research strongly indicated they are on to something.
But convincing people who don’t own computers and rely on physical purchases of tickets will be a serious challenge for the young team. Geissmann and company are undeterred. They’re also busy raising more funding to bankroll the dream.
Here in the States, BusBud is looking to strike a business relationship with Greyhound, that aging national bus service that is often a headache to travel on.
Geissmann believes in BusBud so strongly that he quit his high-paying lawyer gig to make sure the startup succeeds.
BusBud users are booking more tickets through the site on mobile devices than on desktops.
The genteel Geissmann and his team are looking for global dominance. He doesn’t count Greyhound and established bus companies as competition. He looks at them like partners.
In fact, he said there is no competition!
“The best is yet to come. There is nobody,” Geissmann said, “doing what were doing on a worldwide scale.”
They always say that. We shall see.
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