Residents in cities and suburbs throughout the country could soon find an easier way to make it to a sporting event or music concert.
With the help of a recent $100,000 grant from the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute, Rally Bus, a “social mobility network” that charters buses to large events, has taken off this fall. In the past year, Rally Bus closed on the YEI innovation fund, which comes jointly from the University, Connecticut Innovations and the First Niagra Bank. For Rally Bus, this means $100,000 to “scale-up some of their staff and build up their marketing presence,” according to Jim Boyle, co-founder and managing director of the YEI.
Siheun Song DIV ’15 and Numaan Akram came up with the idea two years ago, when they were searching for a group of people to travel with to a comedy festival in Washington, D.C.
The company’s first trip sent 96 buses from 20 states, and the two have since garnered the attention of over 500,000 customers in 50 cities across the U.S.
According to Song, the company aims to streamline group buses to popular events by sending them directly to riders’ hometowns. The average ticket price is $50, and the minimum number of people required to send a bus to a given event is 40.
“Rally Bus, unlike every other team we’ve worked with, was already up and running and making revenue when they came to us,” said Jim Boyle, co-founder and managing director of the YEI.
Song said she initiated the partnership between Rally Bus and the YEI because she and Akram needed assistance assembling investor documents to start fundraising capital. Since then, the partnership has expanded to include Rally Bus’s participation in their Summer Venture Creation Program last summer.
Song said the company is able to work with 40,000 buses and 4,000 bus companies because the industry has not been rolled into a larger conglomerate.
This past July, Rally Bus won the Yale-NYU Summer Accelerator Pitchoff in New York City, where start-ups pitched their ideas to Google’s New York City office.
“Numaan is a real technologist, he builds all the code himself,” said Boyle. “They have a very scaleable idea.”
Aaron Gertler ’15, a current employee of Rally Bus, caught wind of the project last summer when he had an internship at the YEI. Since that time, he has been writing content for the website.
Gertler said that although not many Yalies take buses to events, he thinks that the company is capable of “responding to flexible consumer demand.”
“Their idea could easily catch fire,” he added.
The company has not yet gained widespread popularity in New Haven, Song said, but this remains a goal.
Song said that, although the app available for iPhone and Android is still in its alpha stages, the company intends to get the app in the hands of the drivers of the buses. She added that, although Rally Bus is still gaining popularity, the company is still based in her apartment on campus, and she hopes to one day open an office in Brooklyn.