July 6, 2020 Interviews

The response to Covid-19 of Busforfun, the mobility company traveling for fun in a sustainable and shared way – interview with Luca Campanile

Luca Campanile is Co-Founder and Operation Manager at Busforfun, the mobility company traveling to experience the world of fun in a sustainable, shared, safe and low-cost way, across Europe.

Before becoming an entrepreneur, Luca worked as Business Manager at Brusutti, a transport passengers company in the province of Venice.

Luca graduated in IT and Engineering at Università degli Studi di Ferrara.

Q: In 2016, you decided to found Busforfun, a mobility company traveling for fun in a sustainable, safe and low-cost way across Europe. What led you to this decision and how did the idea of Busforfun come about?

Luca: The idea of Busforfun came about when I was working for the largest and most ancient transport company in Venice. At that time, I was in charge of managing the tourist transport for the Venice cruise terminal and for the top 20 tour operators in the world.

Looking at quarterly data, I realised that the number of aggregators (associations or single people who put together groups of people for travelling), was declining over time. I thought it was the time for digital aggregators.

After talking about FIT (For Individual Travelers) with a manager at Kuoni Gulliver, and Andrea Incondi, Country Manager at Flixbus, I came up with the idea of creating an aggregator of people who want to enjoy an event.

Then, one day I met Davide Buscato in Rialto (Venice), and I shared my idea with him. He liked it, and we decided together to quit our jobs and found Busforfun.

We started with our savings and some money raised from our families and friends. Two other people joined us immediately.

With Busforfun, we create communities of people in the buses of our partners, with the same final interest of enjoying specific events.

Given our experience as sales managers, Davide and I have given the company a strong commercial footprint since the beginning.

After 5 years of activity, we sell on average 2.3 seats for each ticket, we manage 240 events, we depart from 350 locations in Italy, and we have a physical network of 4,200 affiliated stores.

Q: What happened to Busforfun with the burst of the COVID-19 emergency? How did you react?

Luca: Until February 21st 2020, the day of the first press conference of President Conte, we were doing very well, we were in the scaling-up phase, many of our customers were recurring and satisfied.

On February 21st, we had a violent halt. We immediately wondered what developments could possibly take place after the lockdown period.

After a period of analysis, we decided to make all our knowledge and technologies on passenger transport available to companies, according to the concept of MAAW (Mobility As A Welfare).

With our new B2B service, companies will be able to transport their employees from their homes directly to the workplace, bypassing all “dangerous” points. Employees can book a round trip through an app, tickets are unmarked digitally by the bus driver, respecting all privacy regulations.

Our goal is to transform the travel time on the bus into working time. Buses will be equipped with wi-fi, tables, and everything needed for working.

We also took action in favour of companies, by submitting an amendment to article 229 of the “Relaunch” Decree. We asked to extend the € 500 bonus on the purchase of bikes and scooters to companies that promote shared mobility.

The amendment has been accepted, companies will be able to benefit from a tax credit of € 500 per employee, at least until December 2020.

Q: How is the business going? What are the expected developments of Busforfun?

Luca: Regarding the B2B service, we have buses running for companies in the metropolitan area of Milan.

We plan to keep the B2B service in the future, as it is of interest not only to companies and bus providers, but also to the public sector.

From September, with the opening of schools and offices, there might be pressure on the public transport service, as the existing infrastructures were designed according to different logics.

Probably, in a transitional period of a couple of years, the bus is the most flexible mean of transport. Under normal circumstances, a bus removes 17 cars from the streets. If we consider that commuters travel 1 person per car, even with a half-loaded bus, we will be able to take about 25 cars off the road.

In addition, as employees continue to work in shifts in the office, the private vehicle will become even more uneconomical.

Regarding the B2C service, we will obviously continue to offer the transport service for major events. And I am glad to say that we are starting to have the first reservations for the 2021 events.

Q: What do you think of the Italian start-up ecosystem? What’s your experience?

Luca: In Italy, I see a lot of start-ups based on beautiful ideas, which are unfortunately struggling to go on the market. I see, for example, lot of high-tech companies with limited commercial and marketing know-how. With Busforfun, we didn’t experience these issues, as Davide and I have together a 40-year experience in sales.

Another big issue for Italian start-ups is the fundraising.

On one side of the system there are the banks, which have difficulties in understanding the logics of a start-up and getting out of the classic “industrial scheme”. Not all entrepreneurs can communicate with the banking system, probably because there are few Italian universities able to deliver a truly entrepreneurial education. Our experience with the banking system was extremely positive: we found the right people, willing to listen and able to understand our needs.

On the other side of the system there are the investors. An Italian entrepreneur makes a great effort to explain and convince investors of the goodness and potential of his/her project, but then, the invested amount is on average small.  In other countries, the same effort brings much more money.

I also believe that investors focus too much on the valuation of a company and too little on why a certain amount of money is needed. Without resources for investments, a company cannot realise its project, and this makes both investors and founders unhappy.


For more info on Busforfun, visit: https://www.busforfun.com/