Montreal-based Sharethebus has raised $5 million in venture capital and rebranded as Bus.com, the startup, which aims to make it easier to charter busses, announced on Wednesday.
“In the last two years, we’ve moved 150,000 people across the U.S. and Canada,” says Dave Lastovskiy, the company’s head of marketing. “We’re on-track to move over 600,000 people this year. That’s a pretty fast growth rate from year two to year three and that’s what this $5 million is going to allow us to do.”
Part of the plan is to build more social tools in order to create a better bus-riding experience.
“It’s going to allow us to move more people at a faster pace and provide them with a really special experience that they wouldn’t ever expect to have on a bus,” Lastovskiy added of the capital.
The investment round was led by San Fransisco-based Jackson Square Ventures, along with BMW i Ventures, Real Ventures, Y Combinator and others.
The charter bus business is a $4 billion market in the U.S. and Canada, but it’s fragmented—the majority of charter bus operators have fewer than 10 buses—making it a challenge for consumers to identify providers, figure out which ones are the best and get a good price.
That’s the problem Bus.com is trying to solve.
Increasingly, the company has focused bringing people on music festivals and sporting events – events that attract well over 100 million people every year.
The majority of those people get where they’re going by car. But with car ownership declining and, particularly in the case of music festivals, people travelling long distances to attend events that aren’t in major cities. Bus.com sees that as a huge opportunity.
But, Lastovskiy says that focus wasn’t reflected in the company’s name. Sharethebus was more reminiscent of the company’s original vision to build a ride-sharing service based around buses.
“As we started getting more clients and as we started exploring the opportunity more and just growing as a business, we started doing more of what we call full bus bookings, for universities, clubs and athletics teams,” he says. “We realized that the problem wasn’t so much that people needed ride-sharing options, but that they needed better bus options, buses themselves needed to be much more accessible to the average person.”
The company considered other options before settling on Bus.com.
While there were some concerns that the name was little old-school, reminiscent of the late 90s and early 2000s, but Lastovskiy says it wasn’t a difficult decision.
“It has so much value in the name,” he says. “We want to drive people to the website, we want people to understand what we’re doing and this will help us accomplish that.”
Not only is it an easy domain to find, he says, it lends the company credibility.
“We do really believe that the future of bussing is a dynamic and demand-driven type of experience, scheduled systems and fixed departure points aren’t necessarily the way of the future,” he says.