How to bring 13K users with Rs1,000 marketing budget: Holidify story

Users’ feedback is very crucial for startups as it helps them shape the product in a more structured and targeted manner. Generally, startups wait for the ‘perfect product’ to be demoed to initial users. However, there is no such thing as a ‘perfect product’.

Startups should not underestimate the power of user feedback. It is best to get user opinion from the idea stage.  Users’ opinion helps startups collect important database of early adopters which they will need to circulate the prototype.

Recently, Happyfox Founder Shalin Jain urged startups and entrepreneurs to demo or sell product as early as they can. He said, “Start selling /demoing even before your product launch, this helps you validate faster.”

Holidify (1)

Launched in November last year by Kovid Kapoor, Rohit Shroff and Prateek Chauhan, Holidify has witnessed over 150% growth in terms of active users from the last four months. “In December last year, we had around 1,500 registered users but at present we crossed 13,000 mark in terms of active users,” says Co-founder of Holidify Rohit Shroff.

Private beta is a way to go

“We believed from the very start that users’ feedback is going to be extremely important for us as we are trying to do something different and solve a very basic problem of destination discovery. We also believed that we shouldn’t wait to spread the word about Holidify till it goes live, and went ahead with a private beta launch,” says Rohit.

During the private beta phase, the startup collected feedback in writing from over 500 users from different demographics and locations. To create an initial buzz Holidify posted its product on websites like betali.st and started circulating the word on social platforms.

Good content is the biggest driver

Content is a major driver to bring early users as far as travel domain is concerned. From the very start, Holidify has been posting some good travel related stories, including travelogues. “We asked our friends to contribute to the blog which helped us in generating really good content,” adds Prateek.

Blog posts around festivals like Maha Shivaratri, Holi and movies like ‘Highway’ which showed beautiful Indian destinations went viral and shot up the page views and registration by 2X.

On an average, each user has browsed three different destinations and around 40% users have returned to Holidify within three days. The company plans to launch a weekend getaways page which will simplify the process of discovering a place for weekend trips.

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Create a word of mouth campaign

Besides good content strategy, word of mouth helped Holidify draw attention of the young crowd. “We got a lot of positive reviews from users and a lot of people talked about us in college campuses and offices and started sharing our website on social media which helped us get more users without actually doing anything,” says Kovid.

“Once we were ready with our MVP, we circulated it around these private beta testers and got a lot of critical feedback which helped us gauge what’s working and what’s not. Most of the feedback was positive and it helped us get more beta testers,” adds Kovid.

External factors do matter

Today people are interested in travelling to new places more than ever before and most of them look for an offbeat destination.  “A lot of travel related content is being shared on social media which is again inspiring more people to travel. Relatively lower air ticket prices and better bus and cab booking facilities like redBus and Olacabs have also helped us,” reveals Kovid.

Facebook ads don’t help

On the marketing front, Holidify has not spent a single penny so far. Its marketing efforts are still limited to organic methods of marketing, including social media and content marketing. So far the total marketing spend is less than Rs.1,000 for the venture.

“We have tried Facebook ads, but it wasn’t a great help. However, sending mails for important updates to our own user base has been fruitful in generating returning traffic,” says Rohit. The startup will soon be experimenting with Google Adwords to see the ROI on it.

Bootstrapping gives you wings

The startup has been approached by several angel investors and VC firms for initial discussions. “We have decided to stay bootstrapped as it gives us independence to keep experimenting new things without any external intervention. We keep strong control over our expenditures as our core focus is on tweaking the product,” adds Rohit.

Road ahead

The company is working on expanding its destination database and will be doubling it within the next couple of months. Holidify plans to reach one lakh active userbase by the end of the current calendar.


Jai Vardhan

Jai Vardhan

Starting his career as a crime reporter with 'The Indian Express', Jai Vardhan is a storyteller, erstwhile entrepreneur and a habitual prankster. He is inclined towards entrepreneurship, philosophy and startups, not necessarily in that order. He likes connecting the dots, breaking news, nose and beliefs - ‘To wake up in life one must fall asleep’.