One of our very own cofounders, Gabriel Sundaram, has left the Real Ventures investment firm after more than five years to join Montreal startup Sharethebus.
Sundaram is now Sharethebus’ COO. Aside from the trio of founding partners of Real Ventures, he was the longest-serving employee as its primary investment analyst.
We suspect he’ll continue to be pitched startup ideas at Startup Drinks every month.
“It was less about leaving Real and more about joining Sharethebus. I was really happy at Real Ventures and it was very much like a family to me, but it was just too hard to say no to the opportunity,” said Sundaram.
Sharethebus provides people and groups online tools to rent and charter buses. It can mean saving on costs from traditional bus services, where unclaimed seats are are common occurrence on group trips. The company was part of FounderFuel’s 7th cohort in spring 2015.
“Sharethebus was growing so quickly and I knew they were going to go even bigger,” continued Sundaram. “I was the one who recruited Kyle [Boulay] and Wolf [Kohlberg] into FounderFuel. From the moment we met them we knew they had partial product-market fit, which is unusual for an early stage startup to demonstrate so early. They had people willing to pay for their services pretty much from day one.”
The company went from just two founders to 21 employees after FounderFuel. This year, Sharethebus plans to grow by another 20 heads.
Despite some nice earnings, Sharethebus has only raised about $1.5 million. We’ve previously reported that they’re earning more than $1 million in sales per year.
They’ve moved about 140,000 customers over 3,000 trips, including groups from Harvard University, UC Berkeley, Canada Rugby, the American Soccer League, the NBA D League, Live Nation, GoldenVoice, Intel and more.
Sundaram first joined what was then a fledgling Montreal startup community when he returned to the city in 2011 after five years working in Dallas. He hung around Notman House long enough and was eventually one of Real Ventures’ first hires.
At Real Ventures he co-created a portfolio monitoring application called Dashboard.vc which was acquired by Visible.vc out of Chicago. Sundaram also pulled duty as a mentor at FounderFuel, volunteer at Notman House, co-organized StartupDrinks, StartupHoops, and TechNoel, was awarded Startup Canada’s “2014 Quebec Community Builder of the Year,” and cofounded StartupOpenHouse and MTLinTECH.
On his move, Sundaram noted that he had an “almost unfair advantage” in making the decision to join Sharethebus.
“A lot of times you don’t really know what you’re getting into, but I had an extremely unique, probably unfair perspective on how well the company was doing. I was on the board. We knew based on my background in operations, product and fundraising that I’d be a great asset. Things just kind of came together,” he said.
On the future of transportation technology, Sundaram was particularly bullish:
“We see so much change happening in mobility and transportation now. Car companies don’t know what’s next for them, so a lot of them are investing in startups and trying to figure out how to be a player in ‘mobility as a service.’ When you think about Uber or Lyft, we feel that Sharethebus has a place in this new MaaS space. This company is sitting in the middle of something huge happening across North America and the world. My kids one day will use Sharethebus, so that was something exciting for me.”
The team at Sharethebus estimates that 627 million people ride buses in the US and Canada (not including public transport) each year. What most people don’t know is that the charter side of the industry is actually larger than the scheduled (companies like Greyhound and MegaBus). However, there are no major players in the charter side of the bus industry, so people assume it’s small.
That said, Sundaram predicts it will be a busy summer for Sharethebus. They’ll be working three times more festivals as they did last summer, including past clients Osheaga, Rockfest, Wayhome, Sasquatch, Pemberton, and many more.