Buying a bus ticket has never been easier since the arrival of Vexere.com.
After the long Tet Holiday, a mass of people had to return to Hanoi to start a new year at work or study. At bus stations, many were tired of having to stand in line to buy their tickets. Others, though, could take it easy, having bought their bus tickets online. “I booked a return ticket from Hanoi to Nam Dinh ten days ago on Vexere.com rather than buying one at the bus station,” said Ms. Nguyen Kieu, a 30-year-old-English-teacher in Hanoi. “It saves time and makes travel less tiring.”
After recognizing there was demand to book bus tickets ahead of time, CEO of Vexere, Mr. Tran Nguyen Le Van, a 33-year-old studying his Masters of Business in the US, came back to Vietnam and decided to establish Vexere with two friends: Mr. Dao Viet Thang and Mr. Luong Dang Dung. “I was away from home studying so I felt some sympathy with those who worked away from home,” Mr. Van said, “I began to think about providing the means for bus passengers to book their tickets, and then founded Vexere.”
Different to startups in other sectors like information technology, education or agriculture, most leaders at bus companies were drivers before becoming a boss so the application of technology was quite difficult for them, Mr. Van said, and he had to train them in almost everything. Most passengers, meanwhile,are farmers and workers who also lack technological know-how and booking tickets online was a new concept. Training those involved in the market has therefore been the greatest difficulty for Vexere to address.
“A number of bus companies didn’t want to meet us because they believed the idea was simply a waste of time,” Mr. Van smiled. “It took two or three days to convince them just to hear our presentation.”
Along with various challenges, being the first startup in transportation put Vexere in the leading position in the application of technology in the sector. Researching the sector and brainstorming the idea from December 2012, Vexere launched in July 2013 after analyzing the market and gauging the startup’s potential.
Vexere has launched three separate elements: the Vexere.com website, bus management software, and software for ticketing agents. Mr. Van happily reports there are more than 1.5 million hits on the website at present. Passengers can fully view the price of tickets, compare the prices of different buses, view timetables, and choose their seat. After using the service, they can also provide feedback for others. Payment methods are flexible, either via debit or credit cards or at convenience stores like Circle K.
After the website was successfully established, Mr. Van then introduced Vexere’s bus management software in 2014, which is now used by more than 100 bus companies. “Companies using the software can save about 40 per cent on their telephone bill every month,” he said. “It’s easy to control and view the total number of tickets sold each day.” The software for ticketing agents was launched in 2015, with over 2,000 agents now using it to better manage and sell tickets.
Four years on, Vexere has become popular among Vietnamese bus travelers. “Vexere.com is a smart website,” said Ms. Luong Ky Duyen, a university student. “I can choose a comfortable seat, which is important for me because I suffer from carsickness.”
Mr. Vu Nguyen, a 28-year-old bank officer in Hanoi, said that Vexere.com has helped him save a lot of time. “Instead of studying each bus company and comparing prices at the counter, I only need to look at the website and choose who to travel with.”
Mr. Van is keen to develop the startup in the time to come. After achieving success in the bus market, he plans to produce management software for train and plane tickets and also has his eye on Cambodia and Laos. The way ahead may be tough, but Mr. Van believes that passion can overcome challenges.
Asked for a message to other startups in Vietnam, he said that determining the feasibility of an idea is key. Those involved in startups need to be passionate because they must cope with a host of various difficulties, including capital and competition. Finally, the startup idea must be aimed at thoroughly resolving a problem facing society.