Although they take us from one place to another, buses can be much more useful than you might think. We’ve all heard of street food van vendors – but there are plenty of plucky entrepreneurs giving the humble bus a new identity and operating successful BUSinesses!
Considering the challenge? All it takes is the right combination of knowledge, funding and daring. Here are some of the best examples from around the UK and the world of a business in a bus. Together with Stagecoach, who offer a monthly bus pass for you to get around town, we show you how these entrepreneurs sold more than just bus fare on their buses!
Entrepreneur #1: Lesley Tindle, The Boutique Bus
Sick of shopping on the high-street? Move where the people are by building your own shop on a bus. That’s what Lesley Tindle did, transforming an old Fiat Ducato community bus into a mini boutique.
With the installation of electronic pods, Lesley can showcase her products when she travels the country. This idea shows the versatility of buses, allowing an owner to easily transport stock and sell it directly from their bus.
Entrepreneur #2: David Humphreys, Alex Robinson and Alexander Berest, The Bar Bus
We all know that travelling on public transport sparks conversation — and entrepreneurs are using this to their advantage. One bus, christened Leyla, is the result of a 1966 Leyland Titan being renovated by owners David Humphreys and Alex Robinson. They spent around £60,000 converting it into a fully equipped bar, complete with a lounge area upstairs. Run as a private hire event attraction, this is just one example of a bar renovation.
If you’re looking for the A-List treatment, a Russian entrepreneur has done just that and created a bar bus that tours the city — did we mention that you can dance on there too? Where some party busses in the UK are designed to get revellers from one location to another, Alexander Berest’s party bus is meant to be the destination.
If you’re looking to do this in the UK, remember that you need to get a licence to serve alcohol and remember the installation costs of different pub-like features when converting. You’ll also need to pay concession costs for events you attend, which can be pricey.
Entrepreneur #3: Rishi Chowdhury, The Co-Working Bus
The opportunities are endless when it comes to converting a bus into a business, but there is one key question that you need to ask yourself. What does the bus need to do? In some areas of the country, just having an area to focus on work can be costly as offices, hot desks and co-working spaces increase in price.
Rishi created the IncuBus as a result of this. The bus itself cost around £12,000 and the conversion cost up to £30,000 – but the vehicle acted as the IncuBus office space, hosting up to five startups at any one time. It’s proof that an innovative idea can work well, if you’ve got the business sense to try it.
Entrepreneur #4: The Crust Conductor, The Restaurant Bus
Street food is becoming more popular across the UK — but we’re used to seeing them being served from vans, but what about buses? There have been a number of bus restaurant conversions in the UK – though one of the most popular is the Crust Conductor, which serves pizzas in its 34-seater restaurant. As a mobile business, it can visit festivals and food events but is primarily housed in London.
Entrepreneur #5: Oliver Kemp, The Hotel Bus
Looking to spend the night away from home? Some plucky entrepreneurs have transformed buses into hotels, such as East Yorkshire businessman, Oliver Kemp, who has created BEDROAM – a functional mobile hotel for use at events such as festivals. The bus features 18 luxury sleeping pods, two bathrooms and an outdoor space.
To transform his bus, he invested around £60,000 to ensure that his customers gained the best experience. Proof that with a bit of ingenuity, you can turn space-saving ideas into mobile business success!
Down under, another entrepreneur transformed his bus into a homeless shelter. These ‘sleepbuses’ are designed to shelter rough sleepers overnight.
Have you ever thought about running your business from an unordinary location? Buses are traditionally used as transport vehicles – but as the future pushes innovation and conventions are challenged, it will come as no surprise to see more entrepreneurs stretching the limits of what can be achieved with a bus-borne business. However, with most people’s renovations costing upwards of £30,000, you’ll need plenty of investment behind you. Crowdfunding, anyone?