District-based investment firm Revolution said Wednesday it is putting money behind an online portal where globe-trotters can peruse bus schedules and purchase bus tickets to cities such as Munich, Rio de Janeiro and San Francisco.
The $9 million investment in Montreal-based Busbud was co-led by Revolution and the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, a Canadian pension fund. Previous investors in the company contributed to the round as well.
Busbud was conceived in 2011 when founder LP Maurice spent three months trekking across South America. Though bus travel was the most popular and cost-effective mode of transportation, Maurice found few operators had Web sites with complete schedules or an option to buy tickets online.
During a 10-hour bus ride in Brazil, he drafted the business plan for Busbud.
“Initially we thought it would be a pretty quick process, but then we learned about the bus industry,” Maurice said. “There hasn’t been much innovation in the past decade in terms of booking and search.”
What’s more, there are far more bus operators around the world than airline or train operators, making it all the more difficult to create a comprehensive Web site in the same style as Kayak.com or Expedia.com.
Busbud offers schedules and booking for some 10,000 cities in 90 countries to date, primarily in Europe and South America. The company counts about 30 employees who speak a combined 12 languages and often travel the world selling bus operators on the idea.
Unlike other technology start-ups, Busbud is also largely fixated on markets outside of North America, particularly outside of the United States, where bus travel can be more ubiquitous than cars, trains or airplanes, Maurice said.
The new investment will allow the company to expand geographically by hiring additional sales representatives, while also adding a smartphone app for mobile-savvy travelers.
“We want to continue to integrate their technology with bus operators,” said David Golden, a managing partner at Revolution Ventures, a department within Revolution that focuses on investing and building companies. “As you can imagine, it’s a highly fragmented business. There are literally thousands and thousands of bus operators.”
Revolution is helmed by former AOL executive Steve Case. Its Washington-area investments include LivingSocial, Sweetgreen, Optoro and CustomInk, among others.
Capital Business is The Post’s weekly publication focusing on the region’s business community. For more Washington business news, go to www.capbiz.biz.