Growing up in New York, Keith Corso spent many frigid winter mornings waiting for a late school bus.
“I would end up calling the school, and they not only had no idea where my bus was, but any bus in the entire fleet,” Corso says.
As a senior in high school, when Corso had finally traded the bus for his own car, he got stuck in traffic one day. He looked up ahead and realized his exact former school bus was causing the slowdown.
“That bus made four consecutive stops, and not one student had gotten off the bus at each stop,” says Corso, a business student who is graduating this year.
Through several hundred conversations with transportation directors and school administrators four years later, Corso learned that the problems he witnessed were common. School officials were still using pen and paper to design complex bus routes and schedules. As a result, buses were often late, the routes were inefficient, and there was no way to track or reroute buses in a timely fashion.
Corso now has a whole new perspective on those chilly winter mornings and traffic jams. He is the founder and chief executive officer of BusRight, a technology company that provides a suite of web and mobile apps that aim to modernize the school bus system. BusRight recently raised $2.5 million in seed funding from Underscore VC, Long Journey Ventures and prominent angel investors, including the founders of Kayak, Quizlet, and PayPal.
The need for BusRight’s technology has grown dramatically over the past year. Corso says the COVID-19 pandemic has made the task of building efficient bus routes even more challenging, since school officials have to limit the number of students in classrooms at any given time.
“When you think about split schedules, A/B days, and staggered start times, for school districts that are now finalizing their reopening plans, all of the sudden the school bus is at the top of the conversation,” Corso says.
BusRight provides schools and bus companies a user-friendly platform to build their routes, digital navigation for drivers, and real-time bus tracking apps for parents.
Another major challenge BusRight aims to alleviate is the nationwide school bus driver shortage, says Corso. Any bus driver in a local area can download the app and get “real-time, turn-by-turn directions that are specific to that route,” Corso says—a feature that makes BusRight similar to Uber, but for bus drivers.
BusRight is already being used by school districts in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, and Ohio, Corso says. The new seed funding will allow him to grow the company by making key hires, including a head of sales, web engineer, back-end engineer and product designer. He will also use the funding to offer job security and comprehensive benefits to his current employees.
Corso is the former president of the NU Entrepreneurs Club. He says that one of his first hires for BusRight was Northeastern student Neil Bhammar, the current president of the club. Bhammar heard Corso speak at one of the club meetings and wanted to get involved in the company. The two have worked together building BusRight ever since, alongside a team of engineers and designers.
“The Sherman Center at Northeastern, under the thoughtful leadership of Ted Johnson, funded both Neil and my co-op for BusRight so we could work full time,” Corso says. “Having a university that will support you in diving in head-first, and being able to hire other co-ops and Northeastern alumni, has been absolutely transformative.”
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