NU student seeks to ease traffic with app

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NU student seeks to ease traffic with app

Nick Hirano

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A Northeastern student believes he can bring innovation to the largest form of mass transit in the United States: school bus transportation.

First-year business administration major Keith Corso’s startup company BusRight aims to make busing more efficient through a GPS-enabled app that creates attendance-based bus routes — eliminating stops for students who don’t take the bus on a given day. The company, which has earned recognition on campus and beyond, is set to compete at the Schulze Entrepreneurship Challenge in Minneapolis on April 12.

The idea for BusRight grew out of Corso’s experience driving home after school during his senior year of high school.

“I was the first car behind one of the buses and the bus made four consecutive, necessary stops where students did not get off,” Corso said. “Right then and there, I realized that there was over a mile and a half of cars behind me and there was one bus that we were all waiting on that may not have had to go down this road.”

Working with a friend who studies computer science at the University of Pennsylvania, Corso set out to create an app-based solution.

“I realized that there had to be a better way to create some kind of attendance system so that the bus driver can know exactly who’s on the bus and create the most optimized route from the students who are on the bus that day,” Corso said.

Corso sought to create a solution for parents as well.

“I wanted to integrate GPS into the app so that parents get notifications on how far the bus is relative to their house, so that they can plan their day accordingly,” Corso said.

Although similar services are already in use, room for innovation in the category still exists, said Steven A. Simmons, president of the National Association for Pupil Transportation.

“Everybody nowadays needs to integrate with some kind of student identification system that would let a parent know that a student got on and that a student got off,” Simmons said. “Those things have to be done.”

Real-time information and turn-by-turn directions are the future of bus routing technology, said Simmons, who gained extensive experience with routing systems while working as the transportation director of the largest school district in Ohio.

Simmons believes the competition in developing this new technology is “vicious” but that opportunity exists to target smaller districts that can’t afford the latest and most advanced services from large providers — a space that BusRight could potentially fill.

Last semester, Corso took his idea from concept to reality through the Husky Startup Challenge, a series of bootcamps on the startup process. The challenge culminated in Demo Day, during which participants pitched their ventures to a panel of judges. Corso’s company won first place, earning $2,500 in prize money and recognition within Northeastern’s business community.

To Corso, the collaborative element of the experience proved just as valuable.

“Speaking to students throughout the process, it’s more relatable and it’s a more personal experience,” he said. “There are so many benefits to being surrounded by people who have done it before.”

Recently, BusRight was one of only two Northeastern startups to qualify as a finalist for E-Fest, a national competition for undergraduate ventures that offers a $250,000 cash prize and a meeting with BestBuy founder Richard Schulze.

Northeastern entrepreneurship professor Kimberly Eddleston began advising BusRight as Corso prepared for the national level.

Eddleston said she sees great potential in the concept, praising Corso’s insight.

“It could be a phenomenal idea,” Eddleston said. “A lot of it is being able to recognize pain points. What’s bugging people? That takes a certain kind of person. He recognized a problem and came up with a solution.”

While Corso has his sights set on the $250,000 prize, he believes the true benefit will be the opportunity to rub shoulders with entrepreneurs and investors at the national level.

“With E-Fest coming up, who knows what kind of opportunities that’s going to provide? One thing leads to the next,” he said. “Networking is huge as an entrepreneur and that’s something that I’ve come to realize during my time at Northeastern.”