What it does: Luxury motor coach charters and tours
Founder: Ray Land, 23
Based: Branford, Fla.
Ray Land, 23, is known as the "young guy" in the charter bus industry, where most operators have decades of experience. "It’s not like the tech business, where a lot of young people start businesses [based on] new ideas," says Land, who founded the company in high school after finding charter buses he had hired for class trips lacking. He bought his first bus, a used, 49-passenger Van Hool, online for $25,000—using a loan and $5,000 of his own money—and set up the fabulouscoach.com website in 2004. Today, the 77-employee business has more than 40 vehicles. Land, who still drives buses himself, aims to make bus travel luxurious, starting with red carpets for boarding passengers. He takes his cues for new features such as seat-back monitors, wood-grain floors, leather interiors, and espresso machines from airlines, cruise ships, and luxury hotels, rather than from the auto industry. The charter rate for a 56-passenger bus: about $1,150 per day. Business comes from all kinds of travelers, including tour groups, schools, marching bands, sports teams, Olympic athletes, businesses, seniors heading to casinos, dance troupes, and the White House press corps. The company’s largest deal to date was a $1.1 million, eight-month contract with the military to move troops around following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Land says revenue reached $3 million in 2009 and forecasts $4.5 million this year. —VW