A Boston based startup is trying to turn millennials on to the idea of traveling by train and bus. Wanderu has spent the last two years helping people compare train and bus options, and subsequently book travel, in the easiest and most convenient way possible.
In the two years since it was founded, Wanderu has grown and taken on new opportunities at every turn. In 2013 they participated in the SXSX Interactive accelerator along with 47 other startups. And earlier this year, Wanderu became one of the finalists in the Extreme Tech Challenge, leading to the opportunity to personally pitch to Sir Richard Branson.
Like many entrepreneurs, founder and CEO Polina Raygorodskaya came up with the idea for Wanderu out of her own frustrations. While a college student running a boutique fashion, beauty, and travel PR company, she was often bouncing back and forth between Boston and NYC. Bus travel was the easiest way to go, but there weren't any comprehensive bus booking sites that met her needs. This problem became even more apparent in the summer of 2011.
“Fast forward to the summer of 2011, my now-business partner Igor Bratnikov and I joined a group of young professionals traveling across the country using shared rides on a mission to raise awareness about national parks and forests,” said Raygorodskaya in an interview. “At one point during the trip, the driver with whom we were supposed to travel to our next destination cancelled on us at the last moment, so we found ourselves stranded in the middle of rural Virginia with no way of knowing what buses or trains we could catch to continue our journey. We couldn’t even locate the nearest station.”
This led her and Bratnikov to create a ground travel search engine to make it easy for people to find the best bus and train deals. Through their partner carriers, users can book travel to over 90% of the US and many destinations in Canada as well.
Wanderu is available both online and as an app for iOS & Android. Still not convinced that bus or train travel is for you? Well, Richard Branson, owner of one of the largest airlines in the country, thinks they're the bees knees of startups.
Image Credit: Flickr/Fellowship of the Rich