Entrepreneur Jean Souliere is the Founder and CEO of BusPatrol, providing resources to enable school districts with access to school bus safety technology. With shrinking budgets for education year after year, it is no surprise to see how school bus safety would be very low on the priority list in every school district. This fact did not deter Jean Souliere from establishing a means to support and protect the safety of children entrusted to school bus operators.
He is a Canadian Entrepreneur. His career has been in the high-tech and transportation logistics industry. He was eminently capable of finding a solution using leading-edge technologies such as A.I. enabled devices and data management solutions. In addition, he created a revenue sharing model for school districts, municipalities and police forces received from fines issued to stop-arm violations and at no cost to taxpayers.
Jean’s main objective is to change motorist behavior around school buses by expanding BusPatrol’s stop-arm enforcement program offering. BusPatrol’s solution is powered by its industry-leading hardware and software solution, trained safety experts and support staff. The company plays a fundamental role in coordinating between all community and safety stakeholders to implement efficient and effective stop-arm enforcement programs.
How did you get started In BusPatrol? What inspired you to do so?
I started my career in the technology industry by working for some very large companies such as Oracle and NetSuite. I was inspired to become an entrepreneur in the tech industry because It is genuinely exciting to see how new technology can be applied to change the way our world works. Uniquely to BusPatrol, we were able to resolve issues with school buses that were not being addressed. People illegally passing school buses is an epidemic. School buses have remained virtually the same decade after decade. I recognized a tremendous need to bring technology to the space that is so tied to our children and our future.
How does your firm make money?
BusPatrol America turns school buses into smart buses. We have created a funding mechanism that makes technology accessible to schools the way it has never been before. School budgets are continually shrinking. The lack of commercial incentives has inhibited the schools’ ability to invest, which is the reason for school buses remain basically the same as time goes by. Our solution was to create artificial intelligence enabled stop-arm enforcement technology. This solution is embedded into school bus cameras that are attached to the side of the buses to identify vehicles that illegally pass. We work in collaboration with municipalities and police forces. We issue tickets to violators. We educate careless and bad drivers through fines. The fines are shared between BusPatrols, the school districts, municipalities, and the police. It also allows us to continue to deploy more and more technology. We would like to see every school bus equipped with the safety tech that every child deserves.
How long did it take for your firm to become profitable?
BusPatrol continues to invest in its technology. We have been operating for two years. We are currently profitable. We have the ability to grow and service every market in America. Our goal is to have every school bus outfitted with stop-arm enforcement technology as it rolls off the lot.
When you first started out did you ever doubt that this would work for you? If so, how did you handle it?
As an entrepreneur, doubt is part of the job. Statistically, the number of new businesses that succeed is in a single digit percentage. We had to design and build the most robust technology to be able to withstand Canadian winter temperatures. Another tremendous challenge we had to address was getting video data over cellular networks in remote areas in an efficient way. We required that assistance of AT&T to overcome the challenges. In the very beginning, the challenge was securing funding and demonstrating to people that this was a viable solution. Gaining trust from agencies and organizations that were already integrated into these communities, took a lot of resolve. We had to pay attention to details when it came to our designs. We had to make sure it was the BEST possible product. We had to communicate our vision very clearly. But we roll up our sleeves and do what is necessary.
How did you find your first customer?
We got our first contract by acquiring a contract. We got the contract through a government acquisition. The contract was with Montgomery County Maryland. There were very few smart buses in the county so we essentially built the program with them. Every contract that proceeded Montgomery County’s contract was embryonic contracts.
What is one marketing strategy other than referrals that you use to generate new business?
One thing that we do is to implement a pilot program. We implement ten pilot projects at no cost to the school districts. BusPatrol America bears the cost of implementing the pilots. It allows us to showcase our Smart Bus technology and our Safety technology while collecting important data related to the vehicles that are illegally passing those school buses. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a million. These videos are what motivates legislators to put the laws in place to enable technology such as ours.
What is the toughest decision that you have had to make in the past few months?
As companies grow, change is needed. Change involves a change in people and locations, strategies, and suppliers. Human beings aren’t necessarily the best with change. The toughest job I have all the time is how to manage to keep BusPatrol growing and evolving, knowing that there is all this change. In all this change, how do I know it won’t ruin the human element of what we do. The toughest thing I have to do is the most important. I have to make sure that everyone invested in BusPatrol feels like they are well served by us, and that their journey with us is something that they can speak positively about.
What do you think makes you successful?
What makes me successful is that I don’t panic. My fiancé and inspiration throughout this endeavor, has told me that I have the patience and steadiness to calculate a way to stay alive while falling from a plane. I believe that kind of patience and steadiness what inspires people to follow and work hard for BusPatrol. They know that I am a rock that they can depend on. I always do what I say I am going to do. That is a quality that is rare. If you make a promise, deliver on that promise.
What has been your most satisfying moment since opening your own firm?
It is very difficult to say what the most satisfying moment has been when there have been so many. The most satisfying moments are when people come up and thank me for being able to be a part of this mission. That happens every day. As an entrepreneur, I have the opportunity to interact with a very diverse, very good people which is why I do what we do.
What does the future hold for you and your business? What are you most excited about?
We have a tremendously bright future ahead of us. We have the funding in place to expand to every market in America. We will be aggressively addressing the school issues and safety issues that are a tremendous burden to our country. I believe that BusPatrol will play a major role in providing technology to the school district. I believe we will collect the data that will be able to shape and form policies. We will continue to improve our ability to deliver the right education for our kids. Everyone deserves to be able to learn in a place that is safe.
What books have inspired would you recommend?
There are two books. Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of the Most Highly Effective People. My very first boss required me to read it and it put some rigger in my life. It was very valuable. The one-minute manager and the other was Who Moved My Cheese.
What is a recent purchase that you have made for your business?
We bought a cool high-powered computer where we are doing a lot of groundbreaking innovative work around artificial intelligence. Her name is AVA which stands for Automated Violation Analysis engine. She is the one who has been learning how to better protect kids. Ava AVA will enable us to have tremendous growth in our company.
When deploying technology what is the most important thing that you should always make core?
No child should be left behind. That means no school irrespective of district or geography, they deserve access to our best technology to improve their safety and their journey to school.