Alumni work to make travel easier

By Allison Krecek

Two alumni are using what they learned at NIU to found a business that makes traveling in Southeast Europe a little easier.

Alumni Matija Biljeskovic and Fraser Gibson are collaborating with others to make a bus ticketing system for Southeast Europe. The duo thought the business would be helpful based on their traveling experiences. They are now raising funds to help launch the business, called BalkanViator.

“During my time in the states I travelled a lot … I also traveled a bit in Europe with Matija, and we went on a train journey to Prague,” Gibson said in an email interview.

Gibson said finding times for bus or train schedules was sometimes difficult. After speaking with Biljeskovic, the two realized this was a common problem for travelers.

“I wanted to see Zagreb, Makarska, Dubrovnik, Sarajevo, Belgrade and Prizren; however, during the planning of his journey, I noticed how difficult it was to obtain travel information,” said Biljeskovic in an email interview. “It was very frustrating. And this is how the idea was born.”

After that experience, Biljeskovic got in contact with Gibson to start their business. They collected more than 2,000 bus timetables and contact information on taxi services and carpooling systems.

“It was a lot of hard work, but it was worth it,” Biljeskovic said. “And the amount of feedback received has been tremendous. The [business’s] website was launched on July 2012. Immediately upon launching the site, the team was invited to speak on a national TV station in Serbia to talk about the project and introduce the idea to the public.”

As time goes on, Gibson and Biljeskovic hope to improve the business’s site and make things easier for travelers. The team plans to offer buying bus tickets online as early as February if possible.

“I believe that our team, which will grow with time, is capable of carrying out this project to the end because all of us share the common desire to advance travel in the region and to use our knowledge, skills and abilities in a positive way,” Biljeskovic said.