Kochi Startup Village Incubatee iTraveller takes a shot at making a dent in the travel space
When Shiju Radhakrishnan quit his cushy job in Singapore to turn entrepreneur he decided to startup in the area of hospitality. Shiju decided to enter a space already crowded by names like Makemytrip.com, Cleartrip.com and Traveltriangle.com among others. But Shiju is confident that his venture — iTraveller can make a difference. iTraveller currently provides services in three Indian states — Kashmir, Kerala and Himachal. So from booking tickets, hotels to pick up and drops are taken care by iTraveller. “We have exclusively partnered with the best service providers at all three places to provide the best services to the customers,” says Shiju.
Started in September 2011, iTraveller was incubated in the startup village at Kochi. This cloud based startup also won the most promising startup award at the hands of S. GopalKrishnan, one of the co-founders of Infosys at the Start-up Village. Speaking about their revenue model, Shiju says, “We are clocking revenues of Rs 50 lakhs every month and should reach the Rs 4 crores mark by end of 2013.” iTraveller’s USP lies in offering services only at places where they have their own infrastructure and ground handling systems. They have a franchisee model in all the three states who are responsible for delivering services. “While the franchisee comprises of the local team, we send one destination manager from iTraveller to keep a quality check,” says Shiju. Every local team is groomed on the technical part of business and the benchmarks set. The destination manager manages the technology and quality control for the franchisee which helps iTraveller provide quality and uniform services across all destinations.
Shiju is assisted by his co-founders, his wife Chitra and friend Prashant Varghese. What started as a team of four has today reached 22. While Chitra and Prashant look after operations and other day-to-affairs of the business, Shiju takes care of the technical aspect. Started with an investment of Rs 35 lakhs, iTraveller is looking for angel funding to expand. The journey for iTraveller has not been without its share of ups and downs and according to Shiju the initial months were very difficult as cash flow was tight. Getting the right people to join their team was another equally daunting task. However all that is in the past and now Shiju is looking forward to the road ahead.
iTraveller has been spreading the word thought advertisements which is mostly in the online medium. And Shiju very proudly states that 20% of clients who have experienced their services have come back to them. The company is keen to expand overseas and envisions itself servicing markets like Europe, South East Asia and US. The company will continue to use the franchisee model even in foreign countries to expand.