Busbud Bags $9M For Its Coach Travel Booking Platform

Global coach travel-booking platform Busbud has closed a $9 million Series A funding round co-led by Omers Ventures and Revolution VenturesiNovia Capital and Real Ventures also participated — having co-led Busbud’s prior round of $1.2 million back in May 2013.

At the time of that seed round we described Busbud as a ‘Kayak for intercity bus travel’. It’s looking to disrupt the age-old business of booking a ticket at the dusty old bus station with the convenience of an app. As well as aiming to overtake local bus company booking platforms with its global focus (hence the Kayak comparison).

In the year-plus since its last raise, the Montreal-based startup has continued building out its platform, which lets users search, compare and book coach travel — and now has almost 1,500 coach companies providing scheduling information and booking options for more than 10,460 cities in 89 countries. (It also supports 10 languages and 21 currencies.)

That’s up from 4,379 cities in 66 countries, 10 languages and 15 currencies as of May last year.

Also today it’s announcing it has signed a deal with major U.K. coach operator National Express, adding nearly 1,600 new U.K. and European destinations to its platform.

Busbud CEO LP Maurice said it plans to use the new funding for product development, including launching new versions of its iOS and Android mobile apps, and beefing up the team with additional hires.

“We’ve grown from a team of five to more than 30 employees since early 2013, and are still actively hiring for new positions in engineering, marketing and business development,” he told TechCrunch.

“Over the past year, Busbud has dramatically developed its offering by making new deals with bus companies in Europe, Latin America and North America. The platform is now leveraging the ground networks of more than 1,500 bus companies around the world, and we are rapidly expanding coverage.

“We have now reached a point where we are shifting from a search site to a booking site. To continue this momentum and ensure we provide a great customer experience to Busbud travellers worldwide, we need to continue to invest in the product and team.”

Busbud offers a mix of direct booking on its platform, where it has deals in place with partners, and linking out to coach companies’ own websites where it doesn’t. Maurice said its focus is on expanding its role as a direct booking engine.

“Our focus is really around providing a direct booking engine. Currently, the majority of our routes with sales activated are direct booking. Many of our coach partners prefer direct booking because of higher conversion rates and a better experience for users as they can complete the checkout process in their own language. That said, some partners also prefer to handle the transaction on their own sites, which we are also able to accommodate,” he said.

In terms of usage, Maurice said the platform has been used to help more than a million people track down a coach ticket online over the past year.

Commenting on the funding round in a statement, Kevin Kimsa, Managing Director at Omers Ventures, said: “Busbud is at the forefront of the transformation of the large and growing global bus travel industry into a modern marketplace. LP and his management team have built an industry-leading platform marrying supply and demand at a time when app-based services are simply expected.”

David Golden, Managing Partner at Revolution Ventures, added in another supporting statement: “Busbud solves a real problem for international travellers looking to find the best way to get from A to B… Busbud is using technology to bring clarity and consistency to the global bus industry, which otherwise operates in a fragmented market.”

In addition to today’s funding, Busbud noted it has brought some new board members and advisers on board, with Kimsa and Golden joining, and Carl Sparks, former CEO of Travelocity, Luc Levesque, VP of SEO at TripAdvisor/Expedia, Alexandre Hohagen, Vice President for Latin America and US Hispanics at Facebook, and Jonathan Ehrlich, General Partner at Foundation Capital, coming on as advisers.