Two years ago Numaan Akram, CEO of Rally, was bringing friends together to attend a political rally in Washington DC. He needed a bus to transport them, but there was a problem.

Because he had the idea to charter a bus, he was about to bear the financial burden of booking the bus.

He couldn't commit financially to renting a bus, until he knew how many of his friends were willing to commute with him.

He told me "I created an APP that helped people self organize." Sharing that "this is where the wisdom of the crowd comes in. I determined the risk. The minimum number of people I needed to commit to the bus was twenty-five."

Once he had twenty-five people registered for the Rally via his APP he knew his group could attend together.

Problem solved, and a business was born.

When I spoke with Numaan, he explained that he had grown up in an entrepreneurial household. Sharing that from an early age "I was taught that business is common sense." Akram explained " I sold TV's and electronics when I was twelve in Jackson Heights, Queens."

Akram believes that his advantage as a founder of Rally is that he's a developer. "Having ideas is one thing, but I can execute my ideas as a developer." And that's just what he did to solve a huge problem.

Akram and his team have created a "platform that helps people get together." Explaining that "we're not disrupting the bussing industry, we're enhancing it."

I felt that this was an important point, so I prodded a bit more. Asking him how he feels he's enhancing it? Aren't bussing companies threatened by a crowd-sourcing platform for bus travel?

He replied "we're bringing technology and innovation to an industry that you can bring to scale. We're bringing the bussing companies new business!"

Akram shared that most of the 4,000 or so local bus companies around the country don't always use their 5-10 buses. But by leveraging Rally, their fleet is finally fully utilized.

So how does it work?

  1. They're like Groupon because you need a certain amount of people to release the offer.
  2. They're like Uber or Lyft because they solve the problem of time. It's easier and more convenient to use a bus when you're attending an event. Plus, it's more fun. You get to hang out with (and drink with) your friends on the bus on the way to, and after your event.
  3. And they're unique in that they don't own a single bus. When I asked why they don't own their own busses Akram said "we create the demand and leverage the infrastructure already there."

Continuing "we're not here to disrupt bussing, that would infer that we're breaking something. We're here to help them evolve."

They're only a year old, and they've transported 500,000 riders across 3,000 cities, and they're in 40 states now.

The Rally bus has left the station.

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Published on: Oct 24, 2016