Bus.com taps Maxie Lafleur as CEO as startup modifies offering during COVID-19

Montreal-based Bus.com, which has created an online platform for bus rentals, has appointed Maxie Lafleur as the startup’s CEO.

Lafleur has served as the company’s chief financial officer (CFO) since July 2019. She replaces Kyle Boulay, the startups’ co-founder and now-former CEO, who recently resigned from his role. Bus.com said Boulay will remain an “important shareholder” in the company.

“We will emerge more resilient through the advancements of our technology and the tough and strategic decisions.”

The change in leadership comes as the company sets its eyes on accelerating the development of its technology and considers making potential acquisitions. However, Bus.com has also modified its offering to meet the challenges of COVID-19.

“I am honored to lead Bus.com as [CEO],” said Lafleur. “I look forward to continuing to work closely with our exceptional senior leadership team. We feel confident the bus charter industry will recover and rebound. From this setback, we will emerge more resilient through the advancements of our technology and the tough and strategic decisions we have made and will continue to make.”

Due to COVID-19, Bus.com has switched to offering its services only for essential travel but is still accepting bookings for non-essential trips happening in the future. For trips booked after March 12, and running before June 30, it is now possible to re-book or cancel all bookings up to seven days before the trip start date.

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In response to the question of whether the “strategic decisions” Bus.com has had to make includes layoffs, a spokesperson for Bus.com told BetaKit the company has yet to make personnel cuts.

They said the Montreal startup is using government programs to maintain its employees on the payroll but will reassess the situation in June. “These are uncertain times, and we are doing everything we can to prevent long term layoffs,” the spokesperson told BetaKit.

Due to the fact that it is experiencing less operational activity due to the pandemic, Bus.com said it is now able to accelerate its technology roadmap and “strategic” projects and has added new projects based on opportunities it thinks will arise after the outbreak.

In her role as CFO, Lafleur helped improve the company’s unit economics and redefine the way that Bus.com positions itself in the marketplace, the company said. She has also worked in Europe and Asia, which Bus.com said positions the company well for expansion in new countries.

Bus.com has built a booking platform for charter buses, giving customers an ‘Uber-like’ solution to finding reliable transportation. Founded in 2015, the company has joined forces with various events to provide charter buses, such as Coachella, Electric Forest, and Spartan Race.

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The company initially started with a strong focus on music festivals, but companies looking for transportation to retreats and postsecondary institutions in North America become a growing part of its market.

Bus.com is also launching the Bus Angels Program, an initiative aimed to support its bus partners across North America during the COVID-19 pandemic. Bus.com has shifted a significant portion of its resources so it can provide advice and guidance as its partners renegotiate their financial obligations and navigate government relief programs.

“We are sensitive to the challenges our bus partners across North America are facing,” said co-founder and chief operating officer Wolf Kohlberg. “They are in most part small operators that risk losing their livelihood because of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Fellow Quebec-based bus ticket sales startup Busbud recently laid off just over 30 percent of its workforce in early April due to COVID-19, with 16 temporary layoffs of full-time employees as well as 7 part-time roles in its customer service department.

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Writer, globetrotter, drone pilot & David Attenborough enthusiast