During SXSW, the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute (YEI), had a major presence. We talked a little bit more about the YEI in our post about Hotspot. One event that the YEI hosted was a pitch contest for startups recently accepted into the fellowship program.
One of these startups was Rally Bus. The company calls itself “The Social Mobility Network.” Essentially, Rally Bus is a sort-of on demand, bus booking platform. It provides individuals, bus companies, event planners, and venues a way to utilize buses that would otherwise be idle.
Rally Bus is a crowd-sourced, on-demand travel company. People traveling to special events, such as concerts or football games, find us online as they search for travel options to their destinations. They tentatively reserve a seat on a Rally Bus trip, which is confirmed after we meet a minimum number of reservations. Rally Bus helps eventgoers enhance the special day experience, as they meet like- minded fans in a motor coach driven by a professional.1
Rally Bus solves a very real problem. In their pitch (Below), the company outlined some of the major problems. Every year, more than 500 million event goers across the U.S. spend more than $8 billion getting to and from events. The average tour bus sits idle for more than 30% of the time. This idle time translates to around a $5 billion idle capacity. Essentially, that is the pitch to bus companies. Rally Bus allows these companies to utilize some of their idle capacity.
Through the Rally Bus app, users can look up their event or location and find buses, or if there is no bus they can request one. The catch is, the bus will only travel if a pre-defined number of riders sign up, usually around half of the capacity. Once this tipping point is hit, the trip is confirmed. This adds a layer of protection to the bus companies. If they will not make enough money to justify the expenses, the bus won’t travel.
Rally Bus already has considerable traction, with around $2.5 million in revenue in 2014. Based on this number, as well as some other factors you can see in the video below, Rally Bus was chosen as the winner of the Yale Student Startup Pitch Contest. Check out the pitch below: