Shoes on Loose is changing the operating culture of the travel industry by establishing transparency, as a result, They are redefining travel with State-of-the-art technology. And this is achieved by using good technology for clients and service providers. They also specialise in the amalgamation of experience and technology for a smooth and hassle-free trip.
SHOES ON LOOSE: Redefining travel with State-of-the-art Technology
Shoes on Loose was founded in May 2011. They have developed numerous solutions to assist all stakeholders at each level of their travel plan. They also provide management-customer dashboard, sales panel, client interaction system (soon to introduce the Client App) and educational programs. Moreover, these solutions promise their customers to jet off for their travel experience. We are publishing an interview with Mr. Mohit Poddar, Founder and CEO of Shoes on Loose:
Q.: Please tell us about the founders
Ans: In 2011, I left my job and decided to follow my passion for travel. My intention was to explore all the offbeat and undiscovered destinations across the globe. Along with my two friends, Gaurav Kalyan and Kritagya Tripathi, I, founded Shoes on Loose in May 2011.
We came from the same consulting background and we share a common love for travelling. We attended the same college but never befriended each other there. Incidentally, We became friends on a trip that we were a part of in June 2010.
Q.: What is the problem you are trying to solve?
Ans: Since the inception of the company, the core idea was to revolutionize the travel industry. This idea was born from the fact that the travel paradigm lacked resources and technical support. This made travelling difficult for the customers and in order to make travelling hassle-free, these changes were necessary.
Q.: Can you share with us any insights that led you to believe that this is a big enough problem?
Ans: On other travel websites, you will find that they give you an incomplete, basic and sometimes incorrect image of the reality of the tourist site. And most information that you find on such sites is very generic and it is mind-boggling to see that people are actually selling it. These websites are clueless about the reality of such tourist sites, you are being sent to a place without any knowledge base. If a travel company lacks in keeping a comprehensive knowledge base then it cannot provide a better travel experience for its customers.
Q.: What is your USP?
Ans: The uniqueness of our company is providing the right amalgamation of travel experience with technology. Which makes one’s travel hassle-free and results in highly satisfying customer experience. Moreover, the company has successfully completed over 7500 customized tours while ensuring smooth on-ground services without levying any extra aggregator charges.
Q.: What has been your biggest failure as an entrepreneur and what did you learn from it??
Ans: As I have mentioned earlier, I left my job to pursue a career in travel. This was one of the most important decisions of my life and I knew that after this there is no looking back. And there is no scope for mistakes or failures.
Q.: How are you pricing the Product? What is the logic behind it? What is the model you are following – Free / Freemium / Premium etc.? Explain your thought process.
Ans: Shoes on Loose has an experienced team of destination experts. Each destination has its own team assigned to it. And they work on a destination to assist the client’s requirement in any kind of emergency. However, we do have some preferred products. We feel that the most value for money is when it has the experience of various clients attached to it. Which we will be featuring on our website.
The logic behind this product is very simple; we want to promote a unique concept. Like in the Maldives, we started with resorts which provided all-inclusive concept and some unique activities like scuba-diving or dolphin tours. So that the clients have additional interesting experiences. We have understood that, usually, the client doesn’t consider these extra activities while booking a property but once he is there he loves to enhance his experience without spending extra money.
Similarly, in Bali, the main USP of the destination is being affordable and luxurious. However, we dissuade our clients from going for ultra-budget packages. With us, they don’t have to splurge. They can encounter exotic experiences by staying in some of the worlds most talked about properties like the Banyan Tree just by paying a little extra. These experiences are affordable here, which otherwise wouldn’t be possible.
For Ladakh, we introduced some enriching activities like a visit to a local house in Stok village to give our clients first-hand experience about the culture. As a result, clients understood and create personalized products for our clients as we would do for our own family and friends.
Q.: How did you get your first customer?
Ans: Shoes on Loose began as a community of like-minded travellers. These travellers were looking for a similar experience but didn’t have the bandwidth to research and plan for the trip. The first trip that we planned was for the 2011 New Year, where we designed a nine-day getaway to Karnataka. The trip was modelled for travellers to experience five days of surfing lessons at some of the most pristine beaches in Karnataka. Soon the trip was sold out. Most of the people who enquired were from our corporate circle or friends of a friend. So, I wouldn’t call them my clients but they became a part of the Shoes on Loose community.
Q.: Please tell us about the investors (if any)
Ans: Shoes on loose is a bootstrapped venture.
Q.: Is there any interesting success story? If yes, please write about it?
Ans: Our journey has been very adventurous and successful. However, we had our share of ups and downs. In 2011, I shared the concept of Shoes on Loose with my batchmates. The first year was very arduous. I had to juggle between a full-time job and a new startup. My day job took 9 to 10 hours of my day, after that I had to handle a startup which required a lot of travelling and personal involvement with Developers and Designers.
Later on, I left my job to focus on the company because we never wanted to be a generic and clueless kind of a travel company. This goal has been achieved with the use of technology and training modules, wherein our knowledgable destination experts would directly make our pitch to the client. Our hard work and laborious efforts shaped our company into what it is today.
Q.: What is the big picture of your startup? Is this Product/service leading to something bigger? If so, how?
Ans: Since the foundation of the company, we have effectively utilized our resources to continuously improve the quality of our services to exceed customer’s expectations in terms of overall performance and customer satisfaction.
Likewise, with an experience of facilitating strategic travel management, the team has grown from three people to more than 100 in merely eight years, and we have plans to expand our team by 10%.
Since the past three years, the company is witnessing 100 per cent YoY growth. With some significant technological developments such as the new post-sale app, WhatsApp automation, Advanced Referral programs, Intense marketing, and Analytics. The company targets 200 per cent growth in revenue this fiscal year. Also, we want to achieve 10% market share in the destinations we are promoting in the next 5 years.
Q.: List all the names of the core Team Members, along with their Designated Roles – How you see them evolving over time. What would be each of their Skillsets? – Elaborate also if any of the team members have specific domain expertise.
Ans: The core team of Shoes on Loose includes 2 members:
• Mr Kritagya Tripathi, COO & Co-founder, is admired for his problem-solving abilities and customer-centric solutions. Kritagya is responsible for handling the diverse business operations and partnerships at Shoes on Loose. He also actively designs and implements business strategies and policies to promote the company’s culture and vision.
• Mr Gaurav Kalyan, CTO & Co-Founder, is an Electrical Engineer from IIT. He sets the technological strategy at Shoes on Loose, ensuring that it is aligned with our business goals. He is responsible for implementing new technologies. And these technologies yield a competitive advantage, build quality, and improve data protection.
Gaurav is a Consumer Internet junkie with a passion for platforms and partnerships, now tackling the enterprise at Shoes on Loose. In addition to his educational qualification, he is experienced in driving ideas from conceptualization to production and has a keen sense for what it takes to get things done.
Q.: Who do You Perceive as Your Competition? How do you differentiate yourself with them?
Ans: In the travel business, you will find that the volume of business is large enough for companies to co-exist with a healthy competitive spirit. There are numerous companies who currently operate in the market. However, as previously mentioned, we stand apart from all other companies with our USP. Which is providing the right amalgamation of experience with technology.
Q.: What would be your goal to accomplish in the next six months?
Ans: In addition to customer satisfaction our focus is to target 200 per cent growth in the revenue this fiscal year.
Thanks, Mohit. Best wishes!