From Melbourne to the world: How Rome2Rio is a Melbourne tech startup success story

By making it possible to plan local and international travel from a single source, Rome2Rio, a combined-transport search engine headquartered in Melbourne, is dramatically streamlining an often complicated process.

Rome2Rio is one of many Melbourne-based tech startups that have found success on a global scale.

While travelling through Europe, Rome2Rio founder Michael Cameron came up with the idea of a simple search engine to help navigate foreign transport options. After recruiting ex-Microsoft software engineer Bernhard Tschirren, the two devised the start-up as it operates today.

The company, based in Melbourne, Victoria, employs an extremely efficient algorithm to search and organise global transport information, which they use to build one of the world’s most complete journey planners. It instantly offers travellers a comprehensive multi-modal, door-to-door travel search engine that returns itineraries for virtually all modes of organised mass transit, including driving options.

Put it simpler terms, Rome2rio answers the question “How do I get there?”

The accepted wisdom that elevates Silicon Valley, Amsterdam, or Beijing as the premier sources of startup inspiration and tech innovation may need to find room for Melbourne on that list; Victoria’s capital continues to be an appealing destination for tech industry talent and it’s reputation continues to grow.

Rome2Rio’s Global Partnerships Manager, Andrew Hickey, says Melbourne is far enough removed from the rest of the market to see the forest for the trees and has the right mix of talent and education for it to become a global leader.

“Melbourne is incredibly attractive by virtue of its livability. There is access to great food, culture, events, and all those other things that make Melbourne great. Perhaps the biggest point for Rome2Rio is access to a steady stream of talented and highly educated computer science graduates from local universities.

“Three of our team completed their doctorates at the University of Melbourne, while other engineering team members have computer science degrees from RMIT and Monash University.”

Rome2Rio has a team of twenty employees in Australia and fifteen supporting staff globally. The Australian team builds, manages and markets the product. They including a data science team, an engineering team, a business team and a content team. Their global staff helps find all the routes the site needs in order to build the most complete journey planner in the world.

The Melbourne startup industry is strong and Rome2Rio is joins many other globally successful Victorian businesses through their dedicated to keeping their offices local. Together with other success stories like CultureAmpSidekickerCaremonkeyEnvatoAirly99Designs and CarCloud, Melbourne’s tech innovators form a vibrant community.

“We’re part of a close knit group of Melbourne founders, investors, and advisors who are supportive of each other and willing to share information and contacts. We suspect this is harder to come by in other cities; it just seems to really work well here in Melbourne” says Hickey.

There is a certain lifestyle available in Melbourne that is comparable with other cultural cities worldwide. That accessibility to a vibrant urban centre should not be ignored.”

Startup companies do well in Melbourne because of a few factors: Access to talent, increased access to funding, and a close business ecosystem that includes co-working spaces, incubators, and industry events. Melbourne’s size also encourages international businesses to stake ground in the city, adding further to its appeal.

It’s no wonder then that Rome2Rio is mapping the right course from Melbourne to the world.