Bus.com raises $19.5 million, will hire lots of people


Montreal’s Bus.com is adding nearly $20 million (US $15 million) in venture funding to its arsenal as it continues to carve out a clever position in the bus charter industry. 

Co-led by San Francisco’s Autotech Ventures and Montreal’s Cycle Capital Management, the new investment drew contributions from previous investors Jackson Square Ventures, BMW i Ventures, Real Ventures, Y Combinator, and BDC Capital. It brings Bus.com’s total funding to just over $28 million.

For CEO Kyle Boulay, the need for more funding largely comes as the company looks to aggressively expand to new markets in North America (he wouldn’t say which cities). The funding will also aid Boulay and company’s vision to Uberize the bus charter industry, a notably old school space that hasn’t seen much motion over decades.

That means pumping cash into building better software to make the customer’s experience better. It’s not an easy code to crack, said Boulay. 95 percent of charter bus operators are small businesses who own fewer than 25 buses and run their companies with little or no technology. 

 

“We just want bus trips to be an elegant booking experience. We want our customer experience to be seamless, instant and surprisingly delightful. We want it to be like the first time we all used Uber or other great products. When you unlock something and solve needs through technology it can be magical, and we just feel like the overall experience of renting a private bus can be made significantly better. The future is where moving groups long distance will be as easy as using an app to call a rideshare service”

 

Boulay said the company takes seriously the concept of learning and growing. Plenty of startups have tried and failed in the space, and Bus.com seems to have carefully made the right decisions.

“Our team has done a really good job of growing the business and understanding what opportunity unlocks next,” said Boulay. “We’ve growing really quickly and we see an opportunity to grow even quicker.”

It marks Bus.com’s first time taking money from Autotech Ventures and Cycle Capital Management. Autotech Ventures investment was made by Managing Director Daniel Hoffer, who founded popular travel site Couchsurfing in his past life.

“We like to work with people who have been there before and who have built great companies. We’ve been lucky enough to build some great relationships in San Francisco, and Dan and Autotech really impressed us with their commitment to investing in building the biggest transportation companies in their respective sectors. They’re really smart people.”

“We’ve gotten to know Cycle Capital over the past four years here in Montreal and we’ve been looking for strong Quebec partners given that we’re headquartered here. Andree-Lise Methot and team bring years of experience as investors and we’re really excited to work with them. . We want to continue to get cars off the road and reduce carbon emissions. Cycle’s expertise in cleantech is valuable.”

“When we talk about true sustainability, there are three pillars to consider: social, economical, and environmental,” said Cycle Capital’s Andrée-Lise Méthot, Canada’s largest cleantech VC private investment platform. “Bus.com’s business model is unique because it’s tapping into a real consumer need, allowing their bus operator partners to access new revenue streams, and providing environmental benefits by facilitating mass transportation.”

Bus.com will be using part of the funding to hire more folks in Montreal. Specifically the company wants to hire product managers, product designers, engineers, middle management, sales and marketing. 

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