L.P. Maurice doesn’t mind sharing the spotlight.
The CEO of Busbud is a finalist for Entrepreneur of the Year in the Canadian Startup Awards and while he might be the startup’s most visible face, he doesn’t do it alone.
Maurice says his two business partners have been with him since day one.
“We’re a team of co-founders,” he says.
Maurice doesn’t just share the credit for Busbud’s success with his co-founders. He says Busbud’s business development team has reached deals with 1,500 bus operators in 89 countries over the past three years, while the tech team has built the infrastructure that allows it to support 1 million departures every week.
“This is an amazing reflection of everyone’s work,” Maurice says.
There’s no doubt Maurice has surrounded himself with a great team, according to Michael Gradek, Busbud’s co-founder and CTO, “all the sports metaphors apply.”
Still, at least some of it is modesty. Here in Montreal, Maurice isn’t just known for his work with Busbud, he’s also become known for his support of the broader startup community, helping to organize events and bringing the Founder Institute to the city.
Helping to build up the talent pool in Montreal is important says Gradek, who says he moved to the West Coast for work before Busbud “gave me the opportunity to come back to Montreal.”
2014 was a big year for Busbud. In December, it reached a deal to start selling tickets for 3,800 Greyhound routes. It’s a important deal, says Maurice.
After all, Greyhound is “one of the biggest companies in our segment,” Maurice says, particularly here in North America.
But there’s something else that makes the deal significant. When Busbud first approached Greyhound, it refused to work with the startup.
It’s not just Greyhound that’s come around and is taking Busbud more seriously, other large players in the travel industry are paying attention and so are investors. In June, the startup closed a $9 million series A investment round, led by OMERS Ventures and Revolution Ventures.
“Just being relevant in the discussion” is important, according to Maurice.
“We’re in a very conservative, old-school market,” he says. “It’s not as sexy as wearables or A.I.”
That doesn’t mean its not challenging, while North America’s bus market is dominated by a couple major companies and handful of regional players, that’s not the case in much of the world.
Particularly in places like South America, there’s a lot of fragmentation in the bus travel industry, says Gradek.
“There’s no ISO bus standard,” he says. “We are going to be that standard.”
Maurice first got the idea for Busbud while travelling in South America, dealing with the language barriers, broken websites and discoverability challenges that can come with bus travel.
“It’s a real life problem,” Maurice says. The market is “very broken everywhere.”
The challenges haven’t just been technical ones, there are also cultural differences that the team has to appreciate.
“In South America they don’t call bus drivers ‘bus drivers,’ they call them ‘pilots,’” says Gradek. While in Mexico, “buses are really becoming luxurious.”
Those difference mean that bus companies compete on different things in different markets.
For Busbud, the next step is to improve its mobile product. After that, Maurice says he sees opportunities to go beyond selling tickets. Along with his team, he’s looking at ways Busbud can help users find bus stations, simplify the check-in process and perhaps even help Busbud users meet each other while they’re on board.
“We’re really excited about the experience piece,” he says.