“Don’t be defined by what other people say, think or believe about you. Just go out and follow your passion. Whatever that may be, and everything will work itself out if you have patience and are willing to work hard.”– Ayesha Ghandy, Co-Founder of No Thepla Holidays.
No Thepla Holidays offers flashpacking trips for people to travel to offbeat places whilst traveling with like-minded people. No Thepla Holidays was set up by people who are in love with the idea of “taking a break”. The company plans an itinerary based on extensive research and / or visits to the trip destinations.
|The Team at No Thepla Holidays | Kalanggaman Island, Philippines
Ayesha Ghandy, Co-Founder of No Thepla Holidays grew up in the midst of nature which is where she found her love for animals. Being an animal lover, Ayesha also loves horses and has been to riding holidays in the heart of Catalonian countryside in Spain. Her long list of hobbies include Horse Riding, Scuba diving, exploring new places, going for long drives with my dogs and rescuing / caring for injured animals.
In an exclusive email interaction with The Motiverge; Ayesha Ghandy, Co-Founder of No Thepla Holidays tells more about the venture, challenges faced and future plans.
1. Please give us details about your academic and professional career.
Born and raised in Mahabaleshwar (before it turned into the tourist hot-spot it is today). Grew up in the midst of nature which is where I found my love for animals. Did my schooling in Panchgani, post which I moved to Mumbai to HR College where I joined AIESEC (an international youth organization) – to get a global perspective to my way of thinking and learn new skills. Post college, I worked at KPMG, Mumbai before landing a job at DHLs European headquarters in Belgium.
I moved back to India in 2010 and managed ResQ Charitable Trust, an animal welfare NGO based in Pune. I started No Thepla with my sister and a friend, and there’s been no looking back since then!
2. Tell us more about No Thepla Holidays. When was it established?
No Thepla Holidays was set up in 2014 and with our first trip to Europe in June that year. No Thepla Holidays offers flashpacking trips for people to travel to offbeat places whilst traveling with like-minded people. We plan our trips around, music festivals, major or quirky events, adventure or specific activities. Our trips are accompanied and at the time the locations we travel to are Europe, South East Asia and the Middle East. Our target markets are urban youth who are looking for new experiences and have an innate desire to explore.
3. What was the biggest turning point in your life that changed your mind to become an entrepreneur?
I lived in Belgium for a while and I used my free time to travel to places around. That was when I discovered my love for travel. I knew I eventually wanted to do something that offered me this flexibility of being able to take time to see the world. Having a passion for travel, it’s a lifestyle I love and want to promote. We saw a gap in the industry – no one was catering to the flashpacking needs of the modern urban traveller. This combined with my need for personal freedom in terms of being able to dictate my own working hours, the headroom and elbowroom in making decisions and having a sense of ownership led to No Thepla Holidays.
4. How big is your team?
Our team consists of 3 persons, the founders of the company. We are an asset light company with all other roles such that of our coder, designer, etc. outsourced to freelancers / other startups.
|The Team at No Thepla Holidays | Petra, Jordan
5. How No Thepla Holidays is creating a one-stop travel platform to help travellers book personalised trips at the best prices? How does it work?
The bulk of our business is group trips out of the country, with pre planned itineraries that individuals can sign up for. We plan customised holidays on a case to case basis.
No Thepla plans an itinerary based on extensive research and / or visits to the trip destinations. Our itineraries are not packed with things to do from the morning till one goes to sleep. Nor do we believe in doing 6 countries in one week. Most of our trips are for less than 10 days and each trip is usually to only one country so as to get a better view and experience of the country.
A trip has only a few activities included in the itinerary that the group does together and the remainder of the time is free for a participant to do as she/he pleases. The No Thepla person accompanying the trip does the usual trail in each location during this free time, and any trip participant can join in. This is to help first time travellers or people traveling to the location for the first time. Our group sizes are always, 10 or less people to ensure that.
6. How has been the journey so far?
Entrepreneurship is not easy though it is definitely something that agrees with me. We’ve had our ups and downs as any other start up. I think the headroom and elbowroom one has while working for themselves is totally worth risking going out on your own.
7. What are the business opportunities in your sector, especially in the APAC region?
Indians as such are not use to backpacking due to generally lower standards of accommodation. Flashpacking however, provides benefits of having better and cleaner accommodation and at fair prices.
The average Indian traveller is moving away from the typical travel pattern from earlier and is now more open to exploring one or two places in depth during a vacation. The short flight times within Asia and the relatively lower prices when compared to Europe or America make APAC the first choice for a lot of Indian travellers. In fact, in a given year, 25 percent or less of our trips are to non APAC countries.
8. What are the challenges faced in your journey as an entrepreneur? How do you manage a work/life balance?
Our biggest challenge so far has been to reach our target audience. We cater to a niche and growing crowd that wants off-beat, experiential travel and is tired of the run of the mill packages that that flood the market. Given that neither my partners nor I, are from a marketing background, reaching out to new and prospective customers has been our biggest challenge.
Managing my work/life balance has been a bit of a tightrope. Having a startup means I’m never not working. I’m reading emails at 12:00 AM, much to everyone’s annoyance but I’m lucky to have an excellent support system in the form of wonderful family and friends.
9. Have you raised funds so far? What are your future plans?
No we have not raised funds yet. No Thepla is a completely bootstrapped business. Over the last year or so we have diversified from only international holidays to events and off beat locations to hosting our own events in India. Given that travel has crests and troughs for the medium term we’d like our calendars to be full with either our international trips or events here in India.
10. What keeps you going?
No Thepla provides people (some of whom are in their 30s and never travelled alone) a safe and fun way to experience travel. Giving these people the opportunity to experience things that they had never dreamed of combined with my passion for meeting new people and exploring new places and cultures makes it all worth the effort.
11. What are your messages for budding entrepreneurs/young generation?
Don’t be defined by what other people say, think or believe about you. Just go out and follow your passion. Whatever that may be, and everything will work itself out if you have patience and are willing to work hard.