1. Please give us details about your academic and professional career.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Electronics Engineering from Warangal, India. After my graduation, I worked with Nokia and Tech Mahindra, in the telecom domain. I then pursued MBA in Marketing and Strategy from IIM, Lucknow. For my summer internship, I worked with Colgate-Palmolive. Post by masters, I joined HCL where I was handling the business of Nokia Phones, later helping the team to set up a digital store. Post HCL, I worked with Samsung, where I was the product marketing manager. The idea of TripHobo was initiated in 2010 and in 2012, I started working full time to build TripHobo.
2. Tell us more about TripHobo. When was it established?
We’ve (Me, Karthik and Saket- the founders of TripHobo) been avid travellers. Once while we were planning a trip to Leh, we realised the two major problems that were hindering the D.I.Y. trip planning process- Lack of consolidated information and absence of a platform to create a seamless plan. The trip planning process involved exploring 10 to 15 different websites; collecting the necessary information and putting it in complex excel sheet. This is when we realised the potential of developing a platform that could simplify travel! It was established in 2014.
3. What was the biggest turning point in your life that changed your mind to become an entrepreneur?
I wanted to something more than a 9*5 job in a big corporation where I wouldn’t know what kind of impact my ideas or work are making, unlike in a startup. I wanted to make a difference, in whatever domain I was working in. This made me choose entrepreneurship.
4. How big is your team?
Our team today is of 70+ people.
5. How TripHobo is creating a one-stop travel platform to help travellers book personalised trips at the best prices? How does it work?
Our product is for anyone who wants to travel and is seeking out a tool to plan his/her trip. The product is a comprehensive trip planning platform where users can come and plan their trip absolutely free of cost for more than 90K+ cities. They can also explore and replicate the trip plans created by expert travellers and other users of TripHobo. We develop content that can be used as a handy travel guide to those who want to opt for DIY travelling. Integrating the major elements of trip planning- the accommodation, transport, attractions and things to do, restaurants, tours & activities and budget into one platform makes it a one-stop destination to create a customized trip plan.
6. How has been the journey so far?
The journey has been fantastic. There have been ups and downs, but it has been a great learning process. When TripHobo initiated there were very few players in the market, all of them were startups . We had to get clarity as to the needs of the users, and that has helped us find our own way into the travel planning domain.
7. What are the business opportunities in your sector, especially in the APAC region?
APAC is a huge geography to cover. We understand that in India, people prefer booking their trips through travel agents over a D.I.Y. trip planning platform like ours. China is still much into the guided tours, executed in Chinese languages. There is a change happening, but it will take time. Whereas the Southeast Asian market or countries like Japan, Australia, Singapore are pretty strong users of D.I.Y. trip planning.
8. What are the challenges faced in your journey as an entrepreneur?
Apart from acquiring funds, the major challenge is to find talented individuals that share the same passion for the product like us.
Getting the like-minded people who trust in you and work towards the same direction as you, is slightly tough. This is easy for start-up giants like Monster or Zomato, but it was quite a task for us. Today, we’ve overcome 90% of these difficulties, but it still is one of our prime challenges.
9. What are your future plans?
The idea of TripHobo being synonymous with trip planning is what we would want to achieve. All our future plans are aligned towards this goal.
10. What keeps you going?
When we started, we wanted to create a tangible change in the field we were working on, this idea keeps us going.
11. What are your messages for budding entrepreneurs/young generation?
We’ve made a lot of mistakes ourselves that have taught us the lessons I would love to share. First is to have a clear idea on what problem your product is going to solve. Second is how to make money with your product. Having a sustainably working business is very important, especially for a startup. Another important aspect is to invest in the right team. You need a great team to move ahead as a company, as a product.