A lively new online portal, which has almost everything you need to know about adventure and outdoor activities happening across India, has fondly been named Wachox. Within four months, Wachox has amassed 14,500 Facebook fans. Its buzzing discussion forum takes on 60 different outdoor activities, ranging from summer camps to even treks on Himalayan frozen water! With such overwhelming response from all adventure enthusiasts, WACHOX is already gearing up to launch its second version in May.
YourStory talks to Co-founder, Siddharth Shah to find out more about Wachox, which has been receiving guidance from Pankaj Chaddha, the co-founder at Zomato.
Tell us about the current features of Wachox!
It is not only a comprehensive database of adventure organisations, events, news and gear reviews, but WACHOX also introduces XNET the first social network for all adventurers to connect with fellow outdoors enthusiasts, share experiences and interact. Currently its listings are spread across Pune, Mumbai, Bangalore and Rest of India.
The name piques interest. What’s with the quirky name?
In a close circle of friends, we tend to develop our own language, phrases, pet names and go to words. Wachox was one such expression that was frequently used by me and my adventure buddies as a filler word like "Wow! What a Wachox girl" to "His Bike just got Wachox-ed”. The meaning of it is derived from its context and that really excited me when it came to naming this new endeavour.
Tell us a little bit about the founding members.
When the idea was born, I straight away realised I need to have the right team in place to take it from paper to WACHOX.com. It’s formed by six of us, who all come from different walks of life but have adventure running in our veins. Nihal Kulkarni, an Economics graduate from Brown University and managing director at Kirloskar Oil Engines Ltd is the one looking after our finance. Then we have Anvi Shetty, a law graduate from Mumbai University and a national swimming champion, Niranjan Paranjpe, founder of The Wellness Club, Prasad Tawade a post graduate in Engineering Management from the Duke University, USA and Vinit Barde, a civil engineer from the University of Purdue-USA.
And of course me, a passionate foodie and an avid traveller, who has always been the go-to-guy among friends and families whenever it came to adventure!
What is Wachox’s revenue model? Can you throw some light on how the funding came about and from whom?
WACHOX.com still continues to run on internal funds, but we are in talks with several VC’s and are hopeful for a successful tie-up in the near future. So far, our revenue is purely based on advertising, however, for the second version we are looking at commissions from sales over our booking portal and the market place.
What are the challenges you faced while developing your website? How did you overcome those challenges?
I just had an idea, but putting that idea on paper and communicating it to my developers was the most difficult task. Since WACHOX.com is the first of its kind, there was not a single website we could study, analyse and offer a better solution. Pankaj Chaddah, co- founder of Zomato.com and his team were a big help. They continue to guide us constantly and mentor us to help better our products.
What are your expansion plans and what can one look-out for in the future?
We intend to launch WACHOX for Rest of Maharashtra, Goa, NCR, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Andaman on 1st of March and thus increase our presence in over 10 centres. It is the numerous emails, requests and encouraging response from users that has prompted us to pre-pone the launch of its version 2.0 by over 6 months in May. It will include a booking portal for user to book his or her choice of activity or event directly on our website. Version 2.0 will also include a market place, where individuals and companies will be able to buy, sell, exchange and rent adventure & outdoor gear and equipment. We are also planning to launch a stripped down version of listings as Mobile Apps across all platforms in the following few months. We are in talks with numerous organisations and stores, many of whom have approached us to include them into our booking portal and market place.
How big is the current team behind WACHOX? Are you looking at hiring?
We are a team of over 12 people including the founders. We also have a few student interns working with us, who, not only infuse new energy into the team but also give us insights into the younger generation. We are always looking to expand our team with individuals who are as strongly motivated and fun loving adventurers as we are.
Where do you see adventure tourism in India heading, five years from now?
For years, North India has been a hot bed of adventure sports for foreigners and international travellers, but now the scenario is rapidly changing; Indians too are participating seriously and professionally. New adventure companies and groups are being registered all the time, adventure races are widely participated, even our Hindi films, print media and advertising campaigns are now acknowledging adventure sports as main stream. I see nothing but a multi-fold growth in terms of Adventure sports industry; be it exclusive tours, events or even dedicated stores.
For more details, please visit their website: http://wachox.com
Author: Krishnakali Sengupta