A college dropout who went on to study tourism and then established a decade strong business

By Jubin Mehta|19th Sep 2013
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Jitesh Haria

Travellers often cross each other’s path and at the intersection lay some amazing stories. Such was the case when I came across Outdoor Travel Gear, a venture offering quality gear and equipment for the outdoors. Founded back in 2003 by a travel junkie Jitesh Haria, the venture has taken shape nicely and stands prettily away from all the eCommerce rush.Jitesh had dropped out of college in Mumbai in the early 2000s and decided to go to Canada to study Adventure Tourism and Outdoor Recreation from Lakeland College. Equipped with the education and some experience in North America, he returned to India and started Wild Escapes, an adventure travel company. Exposure to various adventure activities through Wild Escapes made Jitesh and team realise the need of quality gear and equipment in India. "To make my adventures better and to reach out to similar people like me, we started Smart Designs, which was later appropriately renamed as Outdoor Travel Gear (OTG) to cater to the need of travellers," recollects Jitesh.

The product portfolio on Smart Designs started with one in-house product called the Eyewear Retainer and that has now expanded to about 900 products from approximately 48 leading quality brands in the world. Starting out as a brick-and-mortar store back in 2003, OTG currently has 15 employees across various facilities in Mumbai, Pune, Thane, Guwahati, Bangalore and Leh. "As far as our offline marketing is concerned, we have heavily relied on word of mouth and making our presence felt at outdoor-oriented events across the country," says Jitesh.

Shifting some focus from the offline channels to the online world, Outdoortravelgear had a full fledged online store in 2009 when the eCommerce wave was yet to hit India. "We are aiming now to push our online platform in a bigger way and are in the process of revamping our website," says Jitesh. "Unlike other Internet-based re-sellers, we hold inventory. So, we only showcase products online that are available for immediate dispatch. That way, we have managed a massive 98% orders delivered and 85% repeat clientele, in spite of not giving big discounts or other profit-reducing perks," he adds.

OTG has people very passionate about tourism running the show and that is what has worked for them. Jitesh leaves us with a beautiful thought-

Our philosophy at work is simple... Enjoy your work and be responsible for what you do. The experience has to be mutually productive. If you don’t enjoy your work, it shows and it will affect your performance and the company. Also if you enjoy your work, it is easier to give 100% plus a bit more, which is required to hold ground in this competitive world.

Website: OutdoorTravelGear

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