Busbud, the online marketplace that enables global travelers to shop for and book intercity bus tickets on over 1.4 million bus routes worldwide, has raised $11 million in Series B funding.
The round was led by iNovia Capital with Teralys, Claridge, Plaza Ventures, with Erik Blachford (former CEO of Expedia) and Philippe Vimard (current CTO of Doctolib) also participating in the round. Blachford, Vimard, and Magaly Charbonneau (one of our WMNinTECH and a Principal at iNovia) will join Busbud’s board of directors.
The capital will be used to fuel technology development, further grow the team and accelerate geographic expansion.
Founded in 2011 by LP Maurice (CEO), Michael Gradek (CTO), and Frédéric Thouin (Chief Product Officer), Busbud is currently available in 11 languages and offers the ability to search, compare and buy tickets from over 1,300 bus companies in 16,000 cities across 75+ countries, supporting transactions in 30 currencies.
“Buses and luxury vacation rentals may seem worlds apart, but from an investment perspective, Busbud has a lot in common with Luxury Retreats,” said Chris Arsenault, Co-founder & Managing Partner at iNovia.“Passionate founders, a unique solution to a real-life travel problem, international scale, an enviable market position and fast growth – this is exactly what every VC and PE firm is looking for, and we’re elated to support Busbud as they scale.”
iNovia, Claridge, and Teralys previously teamed up to back high-end vacation rental marketplace Luxury Retreats, which was acquired by Airbnb in February of last year. Joe Poulin, founder and CEO of Luxury Retreats, and Peter Kern, director of Expedia and Managing Partner of InterMedia Partners, were also angel investors in Busbud.
“For us it’s the best of both worlds,”Busbud Co-founder and CEO LP Maurice told MTLinTECH. “We get this continuity with existing investors, like iNovia, which co-led our seed round in 2013. There’s also new investors and the benefits that come with that. iNovia, Claridge, and Teralys teamed up a couple years ago to back Luxury Retreats, which obviously was a great travel startup success story out of Montreal. We’re happy to have their experience backing that company and with the sale to Airbnb at the end. Claridge, Teralys, and Plaza Ventures are all new ventures.
Erik Blachford and Philippe Vimard will be joining Busbud’s board of directors after serving as the former CEO of Expedia and the former CTO/COO of publicly-listed eDreams/ODIGEO Travel Group and currrent CTO of Doctolib respectively. Magaly Charbonneau, who joined iNovia as a Principal in October, joins the board as a seasoned tech entrepreneur with several successful exits, including PasswordBox, which was acquired by Intel Corporation in 2014.
“Blachford and Vimard are travel tech veterans, they’re among the most connected people you can find in the travel industry,” said Maurice. “What’s interesting is they’ve each invested in Busbud and now they’ve joined on the board. We’re super happy to have them, they’ve been in the industry a long time and that will be super helpful for our next phase of growth. We’re also welcoming Magaly, who’s a pretty well-known person in the Montreal tech ecosystem. She’s very involved and active in the community and we connected a few times at different events. I was really happy when she joined iNovia, and when the fundraising came together I was ecstatic she was able to join our board as well.”
“The global market for intercity bus travel is huge, with more passengers than air travel, yet it’s a market that has been widely overlooked by the travel industry. That’s what makes Busbud such an exciting investment opportunity,” said Blachford. “With over 1300 partner operators, Busbud is already essentially the biggest bus marketplace in the world, and with this critical mass and new capital, they’re poised to be the leading ticketing partner for bus operators and favorite booking experience for smart travellers.”
The funding will be used to invest in the tech and the platform, and will also go towards doubling the Montreal team by the end of the year.
“A lot of people don’t realize it, but there’s a lot of interesting tech challenges to scale what we’re doing,” said Maurice.
“We have 1300 bus operators, 1.4 million routes, so just maintaining and scaling that database of schedules and activity that we have with real-time booking capabilities is a challenge. We’re also scaling the team. Currently, we’re 35 all based in Montreal. We think by the end of this year we’ll have doubled the team, so we’ll have around 70.”
“We’ll be hiring pretty regularly for the next year in the Montreal community, and we’re hoping to add some new talent, specifically around engineering, but also more broadly around people who love travel and transport and all that. Finally, we’re working on geographic expansion. So that means investing more in partnerships and business dev. We’re a very international business, we have a lot of great coverage of operators in North America, Latin America, and Europe. And recently we announced we were entering Asia and Africa. We’re really trying to get true worldwide coverage for what we’re doing. We want to be available to travelers everywhere, whether you’re traveling to Turkey or Chile or Brazil, or even just in New York or Ottawa or Toronto.”
“Busbud is simplifying the travel process and making it easier for the modern-day bus traveler to book bus tickets in the same way they do flights, hotels and tours,” said Matthew Leibowitz of Plaza Ventures. “Digital transformation is sweeping through the bus industry, driven by increased mobile adoption by travellers. Busbud is at the center of it, bringing more customers to local bus operators and making riding the bus more convenient than ever.”
Busbud’s COO Sean Shannon also has prior experience at Expedia, serving as the Managing Director for Canada, Latin America, and Australia for 14 years.
“Since I joined Busbud in 2016, we’ve been fortunate to expand rapidly, and to build a network enabling safe, fast, easy and convenient bus bookings in over 75 countries worldwide. From my past experience in online travel marketplaces, I know the road ahead for Busbud will be exciting, and with this stellar team and influx of resources, we’re well positioned to keep our feet on the gas.”