Started by two campus students in 2017, Buu-Pass offers customers a traveling alternative that does not entail standing in long queues to book a ride.
The two, Kenyan Wyclife Omondi and Indian Sonia Kabra, started the online bus booking company after winning a prestigious award in 2016. Sonia and Wyclife capitalised on the prize and their current success is deserved, thanks to the efforts the two have put in creating business partnerships with the bus companies and other corporations.
Buu-Pass works with leading bus companies in the country including the likes of Easy Coach, Modern Coast, Greenline, Crown, and East Africa Shuttle. The company also manages the Standard Gauge Railway’s (SGR) booking website.
Speaking to a Business Today reporter, Buu-Pass co-founder Wyclife Omondi said that they had initially planned to storm the matatu business by introducing the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) which the government has been trying to incorporate in the country.
However, they changed the idea to solely work with long-distance transport after getting ideas from an article on the Havard business review.
“We had other ideas like bringing the BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) buses like the ones the government is trying to incorporate in the system but an article on Havard Business Review gave us a better idea. The article said that to solve the transport problem, you have to solve the logistics issue in it first,” Omondi noted.
Despite the fact that the idea has not been much explored in the country, Buu Pass suffers some competition too. Most competition comes from the bus companies that have their own online booking platform.
“There is competition from individual bus companies that have their own platforms but what Buu Pass provides is a platform where one can choose and compare one company to another,” Sonia notes, “What we are trying to do is bring all the companies together.”
The company is steadily growing and has initiated plans to venture into flights. In regards to these plans, the company has formed partnerships with Silverstone Air. However, flights can only be paid in dollars but Buu-Pass is planning to introduce M-Pesa payments to flight booking. This is because the company recently partnered with Safaricom
Buu-Pass has been providing bus ticketing solutions for more than a year and has already sold more than 80,000 tickets across more than 100 routes. The most popular destinations among travelers include Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Homa Bay, Kakamega, Migori and Bondo.
Before settling on Buu-Pass, the company donned the name ‘Magic Bus’ which they used in the competition that won them a million dollars.
The then students managed to be first among 54 participants in the second stage of the competition. In the third stage, they were first among 5 teams. They were almost bundled out in the first stage as they qualified through a wildcard.
In the competition, teams were required to come up with pitched plans that could double incomes among the crowded urban poor and, perhaps, win them the coveted Hult Prize. The prize is funded by Bertil Hult, founder of EF Education First, and operates in partnership with the Clinton Global Initiative.
Buu-Pass Co-founder Sonia Kabra talks of the steps Buu Pass has made ever since winning the prize.
“We have achieved below the line activation in different bus stations. We are creating this behavioural change among the customers where you don’t need to call the booking office but rather trust the platform to book and pay for your trip,” Sonia told Business Today.
Kevin Namunwa is a reporter with Business Today. He is interested in Business, Entertainment, and Sports. You can find him on email at [email protected]