One year ago, LSA senior Harris Markowitz and Business senior Daniel Matian founded Bar2Bar Transport, a bus service marketed as a social alternative to taxi cabs. Now, the duo’s LED-lit buses are a frequent sight off campus.
For a fixed fee of $3 per person, groups of up to 15 people can hire a Bar2Bar bus anywhere in Ann Arbor between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m.
Geared for partiers, the mini-buses are furnished with LED lighting and speakers. Alcohol is permitted onboard for those of age.
Markowitz said despite being price-competitive with local taxi services, he believes the social aspect of the ride has a competitive advantage over alternatives.
“It’s not just a ride; it’s part of a night out,” Markowitz said.
Because of its ability to cater to groups, the service has become popular among the Greek community and athletes who want to go to bars or parties together.
The company owns two 15- passenger shuttles, each driven by licensed drivers.
Max Sanders, a manager at Scorekeepers Bar and Grill and co-owner of Bar2Bar, said the startup has had a positive influence on business at Skeeps.
“It definitely helps,” he said. “In my experience, most people come in groups of 15 to 20, so getting them there quickly and easily is more efficient and keeps them together.”
Currently, Matian and Markowitz are focusing on publicizing and patenting the ability for users to purchase a ride from their phone. A purchased “ride code” provided by the app eliminates the need for a dispatcher and the process of paying by cash or credit on site.
“This is a piece of technology that no one has never done before and is going to revolutionize the way that people go out,” Matian said.
In the future, the duo plans to become a platform that connects passengers with drivers for hire, similar to car-hire app Uber, removing the financial risk of having to buy more buses.
Up to this point, Matian and Markowitz are extremely grateful for the support and resources of the University’s Samuel Zell & Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies, as well as that of startup competitions Dare to Dream, Lightning Pitch and Accelerate Michigan Innovation, all of which they competed successfully in.
“It’s great knowing we have the support of the school,” Matian said.