Confirmtkt is an online train booing and discovery platform that looks into tap the constant train travelers to help them to get a confirmed ticket, so that in the long run it would generate an increase in train travelers. Catering primarily to budget travellers using smartphones, the platform has a one-of-its-kind feature of predicting the status on waitlisted tickets and suggesting alternate travel options to them in case of unavailability of direct connecting trains. Confirmtkt is the brainchild of Sripad Vaidya and Dinesh Kumar Kotha and was commenced in March 2015 with an intention to assure a confirmed train ticket to its customers to travel anywhere in India. Confirmtkt has received awards like Mbillionth award and the NASSCOM award for its innovative products. We are publishing an interview with Mr. Sripad Vaidya, COO – Confirmtkt:
Q.: Please tell us about the founders
Ans: They are:
1) Dinesh Kumar Kotha is the CEO of Confirmtkt. In his role, he is responsible for Product and Strategy development.
2) Sripad Vaidya – COO of Confirmtkt. I handle Operations and Strategy.
We both started our careers at IBM back in August 2010. We were roommates from the beginning and shared similar ambitions of building something on our own. However, the idea of Confirmtkt was conceptualized not until four years later. We were working in Bangalore and travelled to Hyderabad every weekend. While train was the most convenient mode of transport, getting confirmed tickets was nearly impossible because of long waitlists. We decided to look into the matter, only to discover that there was a particular pattern in the booking and cancellation trends of trains. Soon, we tried to predict the waitlisted tickets using our new-found knowledge. Once the initial experiments turned out to be a success, we built the underlying software and launched Confirmtkt in 2015.
Q.: What is the problem you are trying to solve?
Ans: In India, getting a confirmed train ticket can be an arduous task. With billion-plus people trying to get their hands on just 430 million tickets, there is a massive supply-demand gap. Through Confirmtkt, we aim to address the ticket booking woes of train travelers in the country.
Q.: Can you share with us any insights that led you to believe that this is a big enough problem?
Ans: India is home to 1.3+ people, the majority of which rely to trains for travelling. However, only 4% of the routes (4 Lakh trains) are directly connected. This means, only a small percentage of people get confirmed tickets.
Q.: Tell us about the Product / Solution. Explain how you went about the Product-Market Fit Process.
Ans: We predict the confirmation chances for waitlisted trains/passengers and suggest alternative travel options in case the ticket are not available/on waitlist. We have accumulated 7 years of data and made multiple changes in the algorithm that we used initially. Unlike the past, we no longer use basic ML algorithms like regression. The latest version of Confirmtkt leverages advanced neural networks to make accurate predictions in real time.
Q.: What is your USP?
Ans: Confirmtkt is the only platform that provides alternative route options for travelers. It has a multimodal search option that offers combinations of Train + Train, Train + Bus, Bus + Bus options where the direct connectivity is not available. Other features that set it apart from the traditional players include AI-based prediction, multi-lingual support and ease of use. We have built confidence in the minds of passengers to book train tickets even on the waitlist.
Q.: What were your assumptions when you entered the market, learning that you have? Who in your mind is your ideal customer? Do you have at least one of them signed up?
Ans: Even before coming up with the idea of Confirmtkt, we identified the un-addressed problem in this industry. While we assumed that it would be easier to penetrate the market, we were far-sighed. Confirmtkt has registered strong growth numbers from the beginning, with 10 million downloads and 4 million monthly users at present.
Q.: What has been your biggest failure as an entrepreneur and what did you learn from it??
Ans: Looking back, I realize that I hardly focused on making profits in the first year. While I was fortunate enough to not suffer significant losses, I believe entrepreneurs should start making revenue from day one. Investors’ cash can run dry soon, but developing a scalable business model is the key to success.
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: We charge a small conveyance fee on every booking done via our platform.
Q.: How did you get your first customer?
Ans: Being a digital-only platform, Confirmtkt got its first customer through social media. We have also gained traction from PR activities.
Q.: Please tell us about the investors (if any)
Ans: Till date, we have raised two rounds of funds from angel investors like Pravin Agarwala (Ex-SVP of SAP India), Urrshila Kerkar (Promoter, Cox & Kings), Arihant Patni, Sanjay Mehta and Anirudh Damani, among others.
Q.: Is there any interesting success story? If yes, please write about it. ?
Ans: We were an information-only platform till February 2018. We successfully pivoted to transactional platform and since then our revenue has jumped drastically. Currently, we are doing 20000 transactions a day, which is worth of 1 crore in sales daily.
Q.: What is the big picture of your startup? Is this Product/service leading to something bigger? If so, how?
Ans: We aim to become a one-stop-destination for train travelers. We are looking forward to a future where Confirmtkt will be India’s leading train ticket discovery and booking platform. To achieve this, we are working on multilingual and voice based services to further make the booking seamless and easier.
Q.: Since inception, give us a sense of the value of business done by your venture?
Ans: Below are the traction details:
- Total Downloads: 10 Mn+
- Monthly Active Users: 4 Mn+
- Monthly Bookings: 600000
- Sales Turnover monthly: 30 crore
- Annual Revenue Run Rate: 18 Cr
- Annual Sales (GMV) Run Rate: 300-400 Cr
Q.: What is the insight that you have about this market, which no one else has? Uniqueness about your Startup.
Ans: We were pioneers in building a prediction platform for waitlisted tickets and alternative route options.
Q.: List all the names of the core Team Members, along with their Designated Roles – How you see them evolving over time.
Ans: Sure. They are:
1) Dinesh Kumar Kotha, CEO, Handles Product and strategy
2) Sripad Vaidya, COO, Handles Operations & Strategy
3) Rupesh Kumar Singh, VP, Operations (Handles customer support & Overall operations)
4) Hari Kumar, VP, Business, New initiatives (Handles new businesses and experiments)
5) Gagan Chaudhary, VP, Technology (Heads overall technology and product)
6) Divyanshu Singh, Chief Architect (Heads decision making in technology)
Q.: Who do you perceive as Your Competition? How do you differentiate yourself with them?
Ans: Ixigo and RailYatri are our main rivals. The USP of Confirmtkt lies into the fact that people use this platform in their planning phase. We are not just a train ticket booking platform, we are also providing insights.
Q.: What would be your goal to accomplish in the next six months?
Ans: We plan to double our bookings by March 2020.
Q.: What message do you want to convey to fellow entrepreneurs?
Ans: If you are an entrepreneur, you can’t afford to be disappointed. Be ambitious and stay at the top of your game. Things will start to work out with time. Patience is a virtue, and even more so when you have a business of your own.
Q.: Any other information you would like to share?
Ans: Earlier this year, we added multi-lingual support to our app to cater to those living outside urban settings.
Thanks Sripad. All the best!