Interview with the COO of the startup changing how we look at bus lines

Interview with the COO of the startup changing how we look at bus lines

Bus lines are in need of an update. Between crowded, cramped buses and unknown delays, taking the bus for work or pleasure can be a crapshoot. One startup is looking to change that, however.

Shofur, founded in Atlanta, has been in operation as a charter bus company since 2013, but has recently delved into actual bus lines to take business and leisure travelers from city to city.

The first cities to receive the upgraded bus lines are found in the Texas Triangle; Houston, Dallas, and Austin. We had a chance to sit down with the COO of Shofur, Merrick Levy, to find out more about the history of the company, as well as what they’re doing and where they’re going. Check it out below!

Care to introduce yourself and your role at Shofur?

My name is Merrick Levy and I am the COO of Shofur. My role includes overseeing product development, marketing, and business development. I also lead in planning the strategy and direction of the company with Armir Harris, Shofur’s founder and CEO.

shofur staff office

What inspired the creation of Shofur? Something about the 2012 DNC in North Carolina, right?

Shofur was founded in 2012 by Armir Harris the company’s CEO. He spotted an inefficiency in the charter bus market when he received a call requesting transportation for the DNC in North Carolina. They needed 60 buses for the event and nearly every company was booked. The idea hit him to aggregate smaller bus operators from the surrounding states to meet the demand. We now organize travel using local bus operators in over 100 cities nationwide.

You started out offering charter services, but recently have made your way into bus lines in Texas. For what reasons did you shift into this additional market?

We believe there exists a large and growing market for efficient inter-city transportation. We decided to take a technology first approach to improve this industry. We’ve developed a platform where local bus companies – many of which we currently do business with – can sign up to operate routes. We focus on making the process as easy as possible for the end user.

Customers can book tickets in seconds and track the location of their bus in real-time on our mobile app. We also have a system of peer reviews that rates the driver and bus company. Companies with rated lower than 4.5 of 5 stars are not allowed on our platform. We are able to offer this at a competitive price point due to our focus on technology.

shofur website

Why did you start your bus lines in Texas when you’re based in Atlanta? Wouldn’t it have been easier to start closer to home base?

We already have assets in place across the country, so launching in Texas wasn’t necessarily more difficult. Texas is a great market for inter-city travel because most cities are around 4 hours drive apart. This makes them a little too close to fly, but too far to drive.

There’s also a problem of traffic across major highways in Texas. We hope our service can change how people travel and alleviate traffic.

You advertise that your buses are more convenient than other offerings due to onboard WiFi, power outlets, reclining seats, etc, but they aren’t even your buses, right? How does that work?

Bus operators we work with have a diverse fleet of vehicles. We require that all buses on the platform be newer than 2012 and contain premium amenities.

Where do you see the bus lines going after Texas?

We plan on aggressively scaling our service across the U.S. We have operators signed up and ready in key markets. Eventually we will create a network of bus lines from coast to coast.

Thanks for taking the time to answer some of our questions, anything you’d like to close with?

We appreciate your time for interviewing us, as well. We are currently giving away 1000 free tickets in Texas for sharing our post on Facebook. To buy tickets your readers can download our app on the App Store or Google Play.

We’d like to thank Merrick for taking the time to answer some of our questions, find out more about Shofur here.

This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.

This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author's own and not necessarily shared by TNW.

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