Most of us have used the redBus app to avail quick services and great discounts on bus bookings and have benefited from the app. Today, redBus has revolutionized the online bus ticket booking industry by combining together over 2,000 bus operators covering over 1,00,000 routes across countries. With the mobile app downloaded by over 7.5 million loyal customers, redBus is the largest community of bus travelers in the world. But do you know how did this idea of redBus originate?
RedBus is the brainchild of three friends Phanindra Saa who is currently serving as the CEO, Sudhakar Pasupunuri and Charan Padmaraju who studied at BITS-Pilani. All three were content with their jobs at Texas Electronics, IBM and Honeywell respectively. It was in 2005, when an idea came to Phanindra’s mind. He says, “During Diwali of 2005, I wanted to spend the festival in my home town, Hyderabad. Since I didn’t know my schedule till the end, taking a bus was the only option. I ran around town looking for a ticket, but they were all sold out before I could reach the travel agents. Bangalore traffic is notorious and can clench you at the wrong time. That’s exactly what happened that day.”
Also, he identified some key issues with the then-existing model:
1. Travel agents didn’t have all the information concerning all the possible bus operators. This lead to a gap and customers had to take decisions based on incomplete information.
2. Most of the agents were unable to sell return tickets.
That’s when these friends thought of the alternative of solving these issues by putting together information on a platform where customers could access it easily and take improved decisions. The internet was the best medium to deliver all this data and make possible e-commerce to procure return bus tickets.
This was the foundation of redBus.Phanindra says it was really difficult for them to move out of comfort zone and persuade the bus operators. Initially they also got complaints from their customers and they had to work extremely hard to perk up their service. Payment gateways were a big challenge then. That was the biggest concern redBus faced. They strived hard for 4 years till 2010 when they had made tie-ups with over 700 bus operators. Phanindra with his Co-founder friends, who had just collaborated with handful of bus operators for handful of seats in a bus, today, has 2000 bus operators under redBus.
The major push for the decision of starting redBus was when they were selected by TiE (The indus Entrepreneurs). TiE gave free mentorship to redBus. It was only after being selected by TiE, did Redbus get its first round of funding in its initial 6 months of start.
When Phanindra was asked about his rapport with co-founders, he said co-founders need to be your soul mates. He believes that co-founders in any startup should share a good rapport with each other apart from having good skill sets.
Today the site as well as the app has encompassed great success. It is truly amazing to think that what started with a person simply trying to get a bus ticket has led to a humongous online domain for serving people all over the country.