Wednesday Jan 15, 2014 by Dennis Keohane - Senior Writer, VentureFizz
There was a slight change this morning on the transportation search and booking platform Wanderu.
Where yesterday, the website was being promoted as "Serving the Northeast," this morning, Wanderu's site now states that the company is "Serving the Eastern U.S.." The change is the first step in what could be a year of industry disrupting growth for the former Paypal StartTank company.
This morning, Wanderu officially announced the launch of its inter-city transportation search service in the Southeast, making it easier and quicker to find a bus or train that can take users "from Southern Canada all the way into the tip of Florida."
In addition to the major expansion of service, the company also announced today that it has brought on Frederick Buhr as Wanderu's Chief Marketing Officer. The new CMO has extensive experience in the transportation industry. Buhr serve as the VP of eCommerce and Digital Marketing for Rail Europe. Wanderu CEO and Founder Polina Raygorodskaya believes that with Buhr's help, Wanderu can become "a household brand in online travel."
Wanderu, who received $2.45M in funding from Alta Venture last summer, has partnerships with over twenty major inter-city bus providers. As Raygorodskaya said, the company has been growing by "double" on a month-by-month basis and "has helped nearly a half-million people travel by bus and train in the Northeast." Additionally, last spring the company won the "Most Innovative Technology" at SXSW Interactive.
"This is going to be an exciting year for us as we continue expanding across the country," Raygorodskaya said, "and as we keep growing and making bus travel a lot easier for people all over."
One of the catalysts for the Southeast launch and the rapid plans for expansion has been a trend that the company noticed on its website. Wanderu users have been trying to find travel and bussing solutions throughout the country throught he platform, not just in the Northeast.
The geographic growth and, in particular, the addition of Buhr are clear indicators that Wanderu has a vision (and is gaining traction) to do something that the public sector has failed miserably at: to bring the ease of traveling by bus or train that exists in Europe to America.
The European transportation model, where the varioius networks of travel make it simple to get pretty much anywhere, makes the American transit system look outdated and shockingly unconnected. Anyone who has ever tried to get to Hartford by train or Burlington, Vermont, by bus, knows exactly how broken the system is. As such, Wanderu's platform could be be just the game changer and industry disruptor that solves a problem that is bigger than anyone realizes.
Wanderu has the potential to be a success story akin to those other local travel startups, TripAdvisor and Kayak. With the opportunity and leadership to grow into a continent-wide and ubiquitous network for bus and train transportation, Wanderu could even surpass those two New England-based travel powerhouses.