Just one year after launching, Montreal’s Sharethebus has raised $1.5 million in funding and is now more than halfway through the Y Combinator incubator program.
The startup, which wants to make it easier to book charter busses, says that so far, it has enabled over 1,000 trips, moving more than 50,000 people in over 200 cities across North America.
“We’re really building a full-stack technology solution for the charter bus industry,” says Kyle Boulay, Sharethebus’ cofounder. “We really recognize opportunities to improve things for every stakeholder.”
A lot of that, he says, comes down to communication. This week, Sharethebus plans to launch an app for drivers that will allow riders to get updates about where their bus is and confirm pickup locations.
“Everything comes down to making the experience as good as possible for the rider,” he says. “We want people’s perception of riding the bus to be better.”
In fact, it was a bad bus ride that helped Boulay see an opportunity to change the charter bus industry. Boulay says his co-founder, Wolf Kohlberg, had experience building a business around charter busses.
“He founded a travel agency to move people by bus to soccer stadiums around Europe from his small town in Germany,” Boulay says. “He recognized there was a major opportunity to improve the way things are done” in North America.
But Boulay says he wasn’t immediately taken with the idea.
“I wasn’t a really passionate bus guy like him, but it kind of got the gears moving in my head and I thought about the time I took a bus from Ottawa, where I’m from, to Chicago for Lollapalooza,” he says. “It was a terrible logistical experience; it took me 38 hours.”
It wasn’t all bad, though.
“I met people along the way,” he says. “I ended up being stranded with a bunch of people and we became friends.”
For Boulay, being selected for Y Combinator is a big step for Sharethebus.
“It’s definitely a major vote of confidence,” he says.
The company is currently around two months into the three-month program.
“We have seen a lot of great things happen as an outcome of YC thus far,” he says. “Over the last month, we’ve taken a step back and reworked the user flow of our customers to really simplify it. Along the way, we were able to consult with product experts who have helped us with improving both [the] UI and UX of our product.”
That’s not the only change that Sharethebus has seen. Over the past few months, it’s focused on directly partnering with the organizers of large events.
“It wasn’t until we really started partnering with large events,” Boulay says, “that we really recognized the great opportunity. The more we were booking these busses for these events the more we recognized technology that we could build and things we could do to actually make the bus booking and the actual delivery of that bus trip much better.”