Why We Invested in Busbud: Driving the Bus Travel into the Twenty-First Century
By Brian Walsh, Head of WIND Ventures
When investigating digital transformation opportunities within the travel industry, there is one clearly underserved sector — buses. In fact, the ticket-buying process is only 10% digitized globally for buses while it is 85% for air travel, 65% for hotels and 40% for trains.
Offline Bus Market is Massive and Ripe for Digital Transformation
The bus market is massive compared to these other, more digitized travel options, yet people still have to travel to bus terminals to purchase a ticket (instead of conveniently online). Globally, there are 34 million bus travelers per day compared to only six for air travel. That’s a massive ~6x difference. For Latin America, specifically, this difference is 18x between bus and air travel.
When digging into this further, it becomes clear how important buses are to the Latin American culture and way of life. While Europe is typically regarded as a ‘bus culture,’ Latin America’s bus passengers per day are typically 13x that of Europe! Chile and Colombia alone have more than 2x the daily bus passengers compared to Europe. Although bus travel is really important to the daily lives of many Latin Americans, the experience of getting a ticket is highly antiquated and inconvenient by Western standards.
To bring a better, digital experience to the biggest but least digital bus market in the world, we are pleased to announce that we co-led an $11 million investment into Busbud, which we regard as having built the leading online travel agency (OTA) for inter-city bus travel. Busbud, a Canadian company, has already secured more than 40% of all operators’ ticket supply globally and more than 50% within Latin America. It brings the Expedia-like ticket searching and buying experience to this important and massive bus market.
One element that we love about Busbud is its COVID strategy and positioning. Yes, bus travel came to a standstill during the height of the pandemic, but Busbud rolled up its sleeves and found ways to take advantage. Using its dominant global position, Busbud has complemented its organic growth with an inorganic growth strategy to win market share from smaller players. For example, Busbud is announcing, along with our investment, the acquisition of Chilean-based OTA Recorrido. The combination of Busbud and Recorrido is great for both of them from a financial and strategic perspective. This is just one example of the kind of fortitude and true entrepreneurial grit that Busbud’s management team has. We can expect more exciting news from Busbud in the future.
WIND Ventures looks forward to partnering with Busbud CEO & Co-founder LP Maurice and the team to accelerate Busbud’s growth within Latin America and beyond.
About Brian Walsh:
Brian Walsh leads WIND Ventures in San Francisco — the strategic venture capital group for Copec, which is a leading energy and retail corporation throughout Latin America and the United States. Brian has two decades of venture capital experience in the San Francisco Bay Area, both in private and strategic venture capital. Most recently, Brian was an Associate Partner and Senior Expert at McKinsey&Company where he led the Firm’s corporate venturing advisory efforts with global Fortune 500 CEO clients. Brian holds an MBA from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a BS in Physics from Tufts University.
About WIND Ventures:
Based in San Francisco, WIND Ventures is the strategic venture capital arm of Copec, one of the leading energy companies in Latin America and consistently voted as one of the most valued brands in the region. WIND Ventures leverages Copec’s significant resources to accelerate growth, primarily within Latin America, for startups and scaleups across the world within the new mobility, energy and retail sectors. Visit windventures.vc or follow us on Linkedin and Twitter.