If you live in Vietnam like me, you know that one of the most common and efficient ways to get from the big city to the countryside is by bus. “Xe Đò”, as they’re called in Vietnam, are buses run by private companies that ferry folks from one doorstep to the next. The beauty of it is that I can call up the company, book a ticket, they pick me up at my house, and drop me off right at my friend’s doorstep in the next town, all according to the booked schedule. You can’t even get this kind of convenience in the US.
Thus, with something as convenient and very cheap (it costs less than $5 to get to a town five hours out of the city) it’s bound to be super crowded. The problem is, in order to book a ticket, you always have to make a call. There’s no simple online solution. It’s basically a decade behind flight booking. VeXeRe is looking to tackle this exact problem.
Van Tran, founder and CEO of VeXeRe, believes in the project so much that he’s holding off on finishing his MBA in the States just to focus on the company.
We’ve got three steps of growth. First is getting all the data from all the companies and providing it in a streamlined fashion on VeXeRe. Second, we will allow people to book online, which requires us to be connected to the bus systems. This is a front-end for the passengers. Third, we’ll offer a back-end for the bus companies, which will allow them to do real time tracking of their vacancies and routes.
Basically, the company is building SaaS (Software as a Service) for bus companies, similar to Redbus in India. But their ambitions don’t end at buses. Van says that they’ll likely expand the concept to trains after successfully dealing with bus ticketing.
Four days after launching, the service has already been used by over 500 people per day. But just to clarify, at the moment, VeXeRe hasn’t rolled out the online booking service yet, so customers can only go to the site and check on times at present (data not easily available on the internet in one place) and find the appropriate number to call. Once the online booking system is in place, in the next few months, it will send an SMS ticket to the customer, which effectively kills off paper tickets. The 10-person team is also in the process of building mobile apps for the service, allowing customers to book and receive tickets all in one place.
There are a few small competitors in this space in Vietnam, but Van thinks they’re not up to snuff:
Our competitors are thinking more about the business side of things whereas our team’s mentality is thinking more about helping society. We want to do something meaningful for society.
All of the founding team are from poor families. Van says this has kept them coming up with clever solutions to problems instead of relying on a privileged background to buy their way to an easy solution. When I asked him if they’re eating instant noodles, he didn’t even miss a beat: “Yup. If we didn’t believe in it, we wouldn’t follow it.”
(Editing by Enricko Lukman and Steven Millward)