“Read before travelling”
Travel literature has long been written going as far back as Pausanias' “Description of Greece” in the 2nd century, and the journals of Ibn Batutta. Petrarch's ascent of Mount Ventoux in 1336 might be among the earliest travelogues but are nowhere near in popularity as Marco Polo’s writings. Even though most of us might be more familiar with “Lonely planet” publications, a healthy interest in travel is common to all.
Aashish Gupta and his venture “Yellowleg.com” aim to capitalize on that love of travel and travel writing with their offerings of guidebooks and literature that inform and equip travelers.
Yourstory learnt more from Aashish on his venture and travel literature…
What does your company aim to do with the travel trade?
Yellowleg.com aims to be THE online bookstore for the smart, independent traveller. For any imaginable destination, we sell guidebooks and literature that inform and equip travellers to have trips that are fun, affordable and culturally broadening. Our collection of titles has been painstakingly put together based on extensive research on each destination so users can save time on doing their own research.
Is there a particular kind of Traveler that Yellowleg.com is aimed at?
We aim to reach the domestic and outbound travel market of affluent, educated Indians, who have a sophisticated and international outlook. According to our data, this accounts for about 2 million people throughout India in 2010.
What aside from the travel books make your venture different from other online bookstores?
The key differentiator, of course, is that this is the only online bookstore in India that is built exclusively for travel books. This makes it possible for us to design our site specifically to meet the needs of travellers. Moreover, since our collection of books is exclusive and much smaller than other online bookstores, we can keep our cost of stocking inventory low.
How will you expand your business horizons to accommodate greater demands?
Since we are an e-commerce business, the scaling up of business to growing demand will essentially involve simply moving up to higher bandwidth servers or to cloud computing platforms.Once we observe the demand patterns, it might also make sense for us to have distributed warehouses for stocking inventory closer to the customers.
Why did you break free from a 9-to-5 job to become an entrepreneur?
In a regular job, I always felt stuck in a cycle of mediocrity. Never felt like what I was doing was worth doing. I just couldn’t motivate myself to excel in an environment where everyone’s chief motivator is climbing the career ladder, instead of creating something of real value.
I needed to do something that was more satisfying and rewarding than hearing “Congrats, now you’re a level 64, according to the criteria defined in this document that some genius in HR wrote”.
What has been the biggest challenge to your entrepreneurial hopes?
Keeping the faith alive has been a challenge. Building a business takes a lot longer and much more work than you imagine at first. I needed to be immune to self-doubt as well as doubts expressed by others around. So being thick-skinned has helped.
What kind of learning lessons have you gone through as an amateur entrepreneur?
Actually, the way I’ve gone about my entrepreneurial journey is by avoiding any big mistakes and making lots and lots of small mistakes every day, and recovering from them. Never take a risk that’s too big to recover from. (Always check with your spouse … he/she will prevent you from making those big mistakes).
Where did you find the seed capital for your company? Any plans to raise money?
Used personal savings. No plans to raise money right now. If the first venture does well, we’ll use its revenue to fund a “slow-and-steady” growth.
What has been the reaction from your consumers to yellowleg.com?
Users have given us extremely encouraging feedback. Absolute strangers have written in saying how they love the site. That’s got to be the biggest achievement so far.
On the more tangible side, our goal was to sell at least 2 books per week in the first month. We’ve sold 4 books in our first week of operations (with only about 700 people knowing of our existence). So that’s very encouraging.What is your entrepreneurial motivator on slower days?
I just remind myself how lucky I am to work on something I absolutely love. Besides I strongly believe that to succeed at something in the long term it is necessary (though not sufficient) that you love what you do. Even though short-term setbacks may be upsetting, I know I can only achieve mediocrity doing anything else. So this is my only shot at excellence.
Besides of course, I just need to remind myself of endless days of drudgery in the corporate world and those annual performance reviews. And that’s motivating enough.
How do you want your website to be perceived in the coming 2 years?
To be the first place any traveller thinks of before they start planning a trip.
What is the technology platform you are using on yellowleg.com?
Magento Open Source e-commerce platform on Linux servers.
What have you learnt about how entrepreneurs should approach their work?
- Don’t do it for the glamour, success or the money. Become an entrepreneur only because it’s one of the best journeys of self discovery you can make. You’ll learn more about yourself, people around you and what really matters to you when you run your own business.
- Most entrepreneurs overestimate their odds of success in the short term, but underestimate their odds in the long term. Don’t expect immediate success and don’t be disheartened by immediate failures. On the contrary, be pessimistic for the short term and optimistic for the long-term.
- Have a clear picture of your personal financial situation. Most of the time it is a lot better than you intuitively think it is, and you don’t really need to worry as much as you do.
Yourstory wishes Aashish Gupta and Yellowleg.com a successful run in the world of online bookstores. We hope this gives them a leg up to bigger things and exhort you check them out at www.yellowleg.com