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We will talk about it at  Heroes meet in Maratea with Polina Raygorodskaya, the co-founder and CEO of Wanderu, the app to find and book buses and trains and travel across North America and Europe!  But for now we asked her to give us an overview of the subject matter in the below interview.

Wanderu is a real revolution in transport culture. How did you come up with the idea of it?

The inspiration for Wanderu appeared in the summer of 2011 when my now-business partner Igor Bratnikov and I joined a group of young professionals who were traveling across the country on a mission to raise awareness about national parks and forests.

Since the campaign had an environmental theme, we used exclusively shared rides to go from place to place in a bid to reduce our carbon footprint. During our trip, a driver who was supposed to take us to our next destination cancelled on us at the last moment which stranded us in the middle of rural Virginia. At the time, we had no way of knowing what buses or trains we could catch to continue our journey because there wasn’t a single go-to place online where we could find and compare all available bus or train options for traveling between any two points in the U.S.

We had to go to all these different carriers’ websites and manually search to see if any of them served the area and check if there were any routes going to our next stop. Unfortunately we couldn’t find anything on our own and had to rent a car.

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That’s when we set out on creating Wanderu – a ground travel search engine that allows people to easily find and book the best deals on bus and train travel between any two points. With the help of Wanderu, travelers can easily find the most convenient and cheapest bus and train tickets throughout more than 30 countries across North America and Europe. Over time, we have come to discover that a lot of people do prefer to take a bus or train over flying even for some longer distance trips. In fact, some of our most popular routes include Los Angeles to Las Vegas, New York to Chicago, Paris to Berlin, and Amsterdam to Copenhagen.

Tell me more about your users. Who are they?

Our core demographic is Millennials – students and young professionals between 16 and 34 years old – because they are the main group of people who travel by bus or train. In fact, statistics show that more and more young people are opting out of driving in favor of alternative forms of transportation and, with airline tickets being quite pricey and requiring additional arrangements such as expensive commutes to and from the airport, bus and train travel has really taken off as the preferred way of travel for Millennials.

However, our user base is much broader than that, as Wanderu is the ideal solution for anyone looking for a reliable way of getting where they need to go.

Imagine the future of the travel industry: what kind of support could Wanderu guarantee to its users?

Wanderu provides a much-needed solution to a big hurdle that the ground travel industry has been facing over the past few years when it comes to attracting Millennial travelers. One of Millennials’ most challenging needs is their desire for instant gratification and that had been especially tough for the travel industry to embrace.

We envision that the need and expectation for on-demand travel will be getting stronger with time, so we’re looking at various ways to provide our users with just that. For example, we recently launched a travel search tool that allows people to find cool places on the very same day based on their location and budget. It’s called Explore by Wanderu.

So, going forward, we’d like to make it even easier to book affordable travel quickly and hassle-free at the last minute. One thing we can promise for sure is that we will always deliver the lowest available prices anywhere and we would never charge any additional fees for booking your trip through Wanderu.

What are Wanderu’s future plans?

We recently expanded into Europe and we are currently looking to grow our network of partners there before focusing on covering more territories. In terms of getting more users on board, we are working on a number of strategies to turn Wanderu into more than just a place where people come to look for bus or train tickets. We want to inspire them to travel to different places and explore both local and distant destinations that they wouldn’t have considered otherwise.

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Do you have any advice for young entrepreneurs who want to create a successful startup?

If you’re going into the entrepreneurship world, you have to be in it for the long run and be ready to roll with the punches because things won’t always work out the way you expect them to. Be ready to fail at certain things but also learn from your experiences and improve.

Most importantly, make sure to invest heavily, yet smartly, in building an amazing team – people who are passionate about solving the problems you are working on. I know it sounds easier than it is but taking the time to find the right people and build a team that actually enjoys working together is key.

Imagine a world with no internet. Leave a message in a bottle addressed to the Heroes you are going to meet in Maratea: what would you say?

Lets work towards making the planet a safer and cleaner place for everyone.

 

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