Business students Keith Corso and Evan Eddleston are working to revolutionize the school bus industry.
They have created BusRight, a new app that keeps track of school bus passengers, pinpoints the location of buses in transit, and calculates optimal routes using GPS technology and Google Maps.
The goal is threefold: to curb carbon emissions, reduce transportation costs for bus companies, and improve quality of life for drivers, passengers, and parents alike.
“Bus drivers have long used printed directions to help them navigate from one stop to the next,” said Corso, who is graduating from the D’Amore-McKim School of Business in 2021. “We want to modernize the routing system and make it more efficient.”
‘No competitor is doing this’
World-renowned entrepreneurs and venture capitalists believe in BusRight. The startup recently won $40,000 at E-Fest, a national undergraduate business pitch competition led by the founder of Best Buy.
“BusRight is a really interesting solution to a problem on multiple levels,” said Susan Otten, one of the E-Fest judges and CEO of Otten Associates, a consulting and program management firm. “No competitor is doing this.”
Otten underscored BusRight’s benefits. “What do we love more—Mother Earth or children? With this app, you don’t have to pick between the two.”
BusRight’s proprietary software keeps track of where passengers need to go and then uses this data to calculate the most efficient route to their stops. Parents receive real-time alerts about the location of their children’s bus and its expected arrival time.
“Bus drivers are home earlier, students are home earlier, and parents know where their kids are,” said Eddleston, who will graduate in 2022. “It’s a much more efficient system than the one in place today.”
Corso, Eddleston, and their business partner at the University of Pennsylvania plan to beta-test BusRight in September. Dozens of school administrators and bus company officials have expressed interest in using the app, including Phillip Dunn, chief information officer for Greenwich Public Schools in Connecticut.
“BusRight is great because it will provide insight into the actual performance of the bus system,” he said. “This will assist with better route design and contract cost management.”
‘Your startup is your baby’
Corso and Eddleston tapped into Northeastern’s entrepreneurial ecosystem to take BusRight to the next level. They worked with the Community Business Clinic to form an LLC and connected with the IP CO-LAB to file a trademark application.
IDEA helped to create the revenue model: BusRight will contract with bus companies and receive a percentage of the money the companies save on fuel by using the app.
Kimberly Eddleston, Evan’s mother and the Schulze Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, prepared the students for E-Fest. Her advice? Use plain language, cite pertinent statistics, and look the judges in the eye.
Her tips helped. “Before E-Fest, I was scared to pitch in front of successful entrepreneurs,” said Eddleston. “Now I’m less nervous and more confident.”
As president of Northeastern’s Entrepreneurs Club, Corso said he has learned how to manage a diverse group of people and communicate more effectively—two soft skills that have helped him pitch BusRight to potential stakeholders.
“Your startup is your baby, and you do anything to make it successful,” he explained. “But it won’t reach its full potential unless you nurture your business relationships.”
In the months ahead, Corso and Eddleston plan to conduct surveys and convene focus groups with students, parents, and bus drivers. They intend to use the money they won at E-Fest to create a data analytics platform for clients.
Corso is scheduled to participate in Northeastern’s Semester in Silicon Valley program, giving him the opportunity to meet with some of the nation’s most successful venture capitalists.
“We have one opportunity to knock this out of the park,” he said, “so we want to roll it out to the best of our ability.”