The FlixBus success story is an inspirational tale for enterprises in the development phase. FlixBus, stylized as FLiXBUS, is a German travel company that was founded in 2011. It initially offered intercity bus service in the home country but gradually increased coverage all across Europe. Since 2018, it has also been serving various cities in the United States and boasts a customer base of over 100 million passengers!
In just under ten years since it entered the German market, the private bus travel company, FlixBus, has aggressively grown into an international road and rail travel service. The company has revolutionized the way people travel around the world, to say the least.
From Munich to Manhattan and even beyond, the company is continuously growing since day-one of operations. And it doesn’t plan to rest on its laurels ever. Starting as a bus travel company, FlixBus has expanded its services into the rail industry and is now set on entering the aviation industry too .
Take a look at how this humble startup paved its own road to worldwide expansion.
The Idea is Ignited
Bus service was just one of the many ideas on the list when FlixBus’ founders were trying to come up with a feasible business plan. As childhood friends, Daniel Krauss, Jochen Engert and André Schwämmlein shared many similar interests. One of which was avoiding air commute whenever possible due to the environmental costs associated with flying.
The trio wanted people to make greener choices when traveling over long distances. As such, the idea for environmental-friendly bus service was formalized. The young group of entrepreneurs made it a mission to do something that moves people and the society at large, both literally and figuratively. And FlixBus was founded upon that aim.
Long-haul road travel can be a pretty mundane service. But FlixBus jazzed it up by offering free Wi-Fi on board. Combined with online booking facility and impressively lower bus fares, this attracted hordes of travelers to ride with the company.
Revving Up the Engine
FlixBus initially opened just three routes in Bavaria, Germany in February 2013 after the logistics planning and mobile app had been in development for some time.
Interestingly, FlixBus did not own any buses. It started the service by partnering with regional bus companies and that is how the company is operating to date. The local partners or bus service providers are responsible for running the day-to-day routes. FlixBus, on the other hand, handles network planning, pricing, and marketing. It is responsible for securing the necessary licenses and permits, assuring quality across the service, and providing customer support.
In 2015, FlixBus merged with competing startup MeinFernBus to pool strengths and build a pan-European bus network . Later the same year, FlixBus acquired another start-up, Liinita, a carpooling service funded by the Government of Bavaria and Business Incubation Center.
From there, it was a series of strategic alliances and tactful takeovers that swelled up the company in terms of both, assets and customers.
In 2016, FlixBus acquired Megabus Europe followed the acquisition of another German competitor, Postbus. This enabled the company to expand operations into France and the Netherlands.
In just about two years since its initiation, FlixBus had set up routes to Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, and Luxembourg. According to reports, FlixBus had gained control over 71% of the German bus market by this time . It soon launched routes to Spain and the UK, providing over 120,000 connections to millions of bus riders in Europe in every day!
FlixBus eventually took over the Austrian Hello coach network in addition to partnering with various small and medium-sized transport enterprises in Denmark. Mutual collaboration Czech and Austrian train companies allowed FlixBus to add rail transport services under its belt as well.
The company thereafter changed its name to FlixMobility while FlixBus and FlixTrain became its respective brands.
Today, FlixMobility boasts an extensive network of bus and rail services in 34 countries across Europe. It provides more than 400,000 daily connections to over 2,500 destinations, including several metropolitan cities in the US. Los Angeles, New Orleans, Houston, San Antonio, and Mississippi are some of the major cities where people can ride a FlixBus.
FlixBus Success Story: A Smooth Ride
The founders of FlixBus attribute the success of their startup to the digitization of traditional bus transport. FlixBus had its roots in technological advancements and leveraged e-commerce to launch itself to success in a very short span of time.
From e-ticketing to the FlixBus mobile app to the free Wi-Fi connection on board and more, the company keeps pace with the rate at which the world is gravitating towards digital solutions. FlixMobility offers live GPS tracking feature for its buses and trains which makes it extremely convenient for travelers to catch the ride on time. The company also uses an automated delay-management system to ease long-distance commutation for its customers in every sense possible.
With dynamic price planning and smart network management, it is able to offer customers the best service for road transportation. A FlixBus user can plan a trip from Munich, Germany to Los Angeles, the United States with a single ticket – even if it involves flying in between.
The company lays great emphasis on the sustainability of its buses. Passengers who buy a ticket online choose to offset their carbon footprint. The offset amounts to about 1-3% of the ticket price. FlixBus invest the total sum of offset costs in internationally certified environmental projects.
The Road Ahead
Last year, FlixMobility reported securing Germany’s biggest tech funding round by raising around $560 million to support further growth . The company plans to introduce its services in Asia and Latin America.
FlixBus success story continues to motivate aspiring entrepreneurs all across the world. It is an excellent example of how three business-minded folks captured the opportunity to serve road travelers after the deregulation of the German bus market but didn’t stop after achieving the milestone on the road to success. When you keep eyes on the destination and continue moving forwards, new avenues open up