STARTUP STAGE: Tripshifu connects experienced travelers with those seeking advice


tripshifu

Nitin Agrawal and Mahim Mehta co-founded the company in February of this year, and it currently has five employees.

The idea for Tripshifu came from the co-founders’ experience running a boutique travel company, where they found the majority of travel agents were planning trips to destinations they’d never visited. They realized that people have the best experiences when they take recommendations from people in their social circle.

In early September, Phocuswright published its India Total Market Report, which provides a comprehensive view of India’s travel market, including detailed market sizing and projections, distribution trends, analysis of major travel segments and key developments. Below, PhocusWire dives deeper into startup Tripshifu.

What is your 30-second pitch to investors?

Tripshifu is a social-commerce platform that will enable experienced travelers to share their travel itineraries and recommendations within their social circle – and get rewarded for it. Our vision is to create a community of travelers that will empower travelers around the world to communicate, inspire and create economic opportunities through their passion for travel.

Describe both the business and technology aspects of your startup.

Travel is a social phenomenon. People like to share their travel experiences and also discuss their travel plans and seek recommendations within their social circle. Furthermore, people trust recommendations from their friends, family and colleagues who have firsthand experience at a destination because they are personally vetted recommendations. This is exactly how holidays are planned now, but the entire process is offline, unstructured and inefficient.

At Tripshifu, we have built a solution that doesn’t try to change user behavior; rather, it resolves inefficiencies by organizing and digitizing the process of discovery, planning and booking while also making it rewarding.

Regarding technology, Tripshifu is built on a highly scalable technology stack. The system handles the whole process, from user acquisition through deal closure. We are working on functionality to make the system so efficient that a travel diary can be created within minutes. The system can integrate with a number of suppliers, which enhances the user experience.

Give us your SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of the company.

Strengths

  • Run by a seasoned entrepreneur and travel industry experts
  • First platform of its kind
  • scalable through technology

Weakness

  • High network effect, meaning the value for a user depends on others joining

Opportunities

  • Region agnostic
  • Complements all stakeholders in the travel industry

Threats

What are the travel pain points you are trying to alleviate from both the customer and the industry perspective?

Most travel agents in India have never traveled to destinations they sell. Surprising, isn’t it?

These same agents cater to 52% of India’s overall travel market – which stands at $38 billion – and 80% of international travel from India. This results in travel purchases based on incomplete or wrong information, which the traveler realizes only after the holiday starts. By then it’s often too late or too expensive to make alternate arrangements.

This lack of detailed destination knowledge based on personally vetted advice is the key problem leading to inferior holiday experiences. Travelers have no choice but to make purchases from people who have no travel experience of their own. This is what we intend to change with Tripshifu.

So you’ve got the product, now how will you get lots of customers?

The Tripshifu concept is a high-network-effect business proposition. We plan to select an initial set of “shifus” – experienced travelers who can deliver value to the end customer – who in turn will bring some virality. Scale will come through social media and content marketing.

Tell us what process you’ve gone through to establish a genuine need for your company and the size of the addressable market.

Tripshifu originated from our own experience running a boutique experiential travel company for the last seven years. We interact frequently with other travel agents, and we have always been surprised by the percentage of travel agents planning trips to destinations they’ve never visited. The entire trip plan is based on second-hand information they’ve received from DMCs or read online, which many a times is outdated or incomplete.

Our data going back to 2015 also shows that travelers who’d followed recommendations from a friend or relative reported having a better holiday experience.

Additionally, we looked at external factors, such as the number of people seeking to generate income by helping others plan a trip. Instagram alone has more than 1.3 million posts with #travelwithme. We had no doubt that a match-making platform for experienced travelers and new travelers was the way to go.

With most individual components of a holiday package available at extremely competitive prices already, the only missing link is a paid trip-advisory or trip-planning platform. Our addressable market is the vacation-package market in India, which currently stands at $38 billion.

How and when will you make money?

Tripshifu makes money in two ways:

  • Charging a percentage of trip-planning fees earned by shifus as a platform fee;
  • For every guest booking made from the recommended trip plan, we earn a commission from the supplier/operator.

While at unit level we make money from day one, we plan to break-even with positive EBITDA by the fourth quarter of 2025.

What are the backgrounds and previous achievements of the founding team?

During Nitin’s corporate stint with TCS, he initiated and independently led critical projects for his client Deutsche Bank, which played a pivotal role in clients’ product strategy. In addition to a lifelong interest in business, his education in engineering and management gave him the right set of tools to build a business aligned with the new tech-savvy world.

Mahim started his career in multinational Tata Steel before joining a company of 20 employees, which he helped to turn into one of the top-selling memory brands across e-commerce portals.

Both the founders are self-driven individuals and go-getters and have always been passionate about building things from the ground up. The journey and eventual success gives us a sense of achievement, contribution and satisfaction that is second-to-none.

How have you addressed diversity and inclusion within your business?

We strongly believe that talent is not limited to any race or ethnicity. We hire and engage with the best talents in the industry.

What’s been the most difficult part of founding the business so far?

Keeping users active on the platform is the biggest challenge so far, but this will eventually get solved when Tripshifu has better brand visibility in the market.

Generally, travel startups face a fairly tough time making an impact – so why are you going to be one of lucky ones?

Tripshifu is a one-of-a-kind platform where people not only share their experiences but get rewarded for it.

A year from now, what state do you think your startup will be in?

As per our plans, we will have around 100,000 users on the platform generating good traction.

What’s your end game? (Going public, acquisition, growing and staying private, etc)

It’s too early to say what will happen in the future; our whole purpose is to solve customer problems and create some value for them.

India Travel Market Report 2021-2025

This report provides a comprehensive view of India’s travel market, including detailed market sizing and projections, distribution trends, analysis of major travel segments, key developments and more.

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