We are publishing an interview of Mr. Raghavendra Poojari, Founder and Director, Tell My Trip.
What is the problem you are trying to solve? Can you share with us any insights that led you to believe that this is a big enough problem?
I never thought I would become an Entrepreneur.
But after seven years in the same company, my friend suggested that I become a local travel agent. I researched commission options, how big brands work, Airline data, and margins. And trust me, a year later, and a lot of hard work, I finally felt I understood the industry.
But I wanted to do something big. And this was the turning point of my life.
I decided to start my own OTA (Online Travel Agency) Website.
Funding was always a problem. To start an OTA website, you need to pay a non-refundable amount to gain access to the Airline’s API. A huge investment that comes with risk. Website design website and coding took a further four months. It it is now seven months since I earned a wage and an investment / borrowings around fifteen lakhs. The day our website went offline due to non-payment was a tragic and disheartening day.
But sometimes good comes out of bad. Our next decision changed our world to the benefit of our Customers.
An urgent travel booking from one of our Customers had to be booked from our Competitor’s website. I noticed the system gave me a Cash-Back. But the T&C’s, plus a 90 day expiration, rendered the Cash-Back useless.
And that’s when it clicked. The way forward.
After discussions with my cousin, Darshan On, who was now part of the company, we made the decision to go ahead.
What is the uniqueness about your Startup?
While big names like Bill Gates and other famous entrepreneurs are well recognized, tackling an existing market, with big name players, takes guts, determination, and, above all, risk taking.
‘Not all entrepreneurs have to have grand, world changing ideas to be flagged as a success story’.
Raghavendra found a gap in the market and met (and exceeded) the needs of a growing Customer base of Internet users.
What is the revenue model? Explain your thought process.
We believe in low margin profit with high sales count. We give 50% of our profit to the customer as a cash back without any T&C. TellMyTrip Customers can use our vouchers in 3000+ websites.
Who are the consumers that you are targeting? How is this going to affect them?
Quite simply. Internet users.
According to ‘The Statistics Portal’ there are over 460 million internet users, with India the second largest online market, ranked only behind China. India’s growth is estimated to be 635.8 million by 2021.
TellMyTrip Customers receive a flat 50% cash-back of our commission received.
For example. 4000RS booking. If the airline gives TellMyTrip a 500RS commission, then our Software updates our Customer’s account with 250RS in loyalty rewards within seconds of confirmed booking. And we believe in loyalty, so there are no Terms and Conditions to restrict our Customers.
Our Customers can redeem their loyalty rewards in numerous modes.
Want to ride a cab? Request an Uber coupon. Online shopping – sure! Watch a Movie, do some more travelling, or maybe try Camping? Plus many more.
A perfect example of a Win-Win situation.
What is the big picture of your startup? Will it lead to something bigger? If so, how?
In 2 1/2 years, TellMyTrip has become India’s Leading Travel Company. I hope that TellMyTrip will be in the top 3 market players in India by 2019.
We keep our margins low, we offer customer benefits that our competitors don’t, and money back guarantees. In addition, partnering with SkyScanner, a travel metasearch engine, has proven to be a sound move. Technology continues to enhance our Customers’ online experience. We have plans to be at the forefront.
What is the success story of your startup in your own words?
To be honest, I struggled throughout my studies. My education failed in the early stages. In fact, I was kept back several times. Eventually, I had no choice but to opt out of school and work. I began my working life in the Insurance industry.
Bored with my job, I set out to research new business opportunities. I soon found that I lacked not only education but knowledge of the IT arena. I wanted to succeed, so I went on a steep learning curve.
In my business startup, I not only changed industries, but, at full speed, I stepped into the technical design and development of the online site. Tragedy struck, when right at the beginning I lost access to our online server through non-payment. The loss of code meant that I had to repeat the development process with a new website and a new design. Being self-funded presents a vast array of hurdles – although, the flip-side, being answerable only to yourself allows for a fast recovery.
Any other information about your startup that you would like to share with us.
It is a family business. A family affair, my fiance will be joining me in my business in the near future.
Darshan Poojari, Raghavendra’s cousin, is just 19 years old. I am completing my graduation as of now. Darshan takes care of International Packages, building relationships with Suppliers to get the best deal for the Holiday Packages. He is currently appointed as Vice President. Darshan is looking to complete MBA and makes are business grow
Raghavendra Poojari’s story is one of the successes. Quite simply, like all other entrepreneurs, he doesn’t understand the meaning of the word – ‘can’t’.
Thanks Raghav. Best of luck!