Tushky is a marketplace for real world leisure activities (like skydiving, pottery classes, etc.) in India that was founded by Talvinder Singh in 2011. Tushky started out as a platform to give travellers access to local guides and has pivoted over the years to find a sweet spot in the ‘experiences’ space. The company went on to become a part of 500 startups Accelerator and has now reported a growth with over 2000 experiences listed on the site.
Tushky claims 'local activities' to be the third largest vertical in the travel/leisure sector, and is almost double the size of cab rentals, which is the fourth largest sector. “The space is highly fragmented and having survived for a long time, we have a good understanding to capitalize on now,” says Talvinder. Many of the service providers don't have a web presence and for them, their page on a site like Tushky becomes their primary page on the net.
The biggest challenge that Tushky has had is to convince investors that a big enough market exists. “The only way to do it is to go out there and prove that it does,” says Talvinder. The initial days were hard with service providers not willing to come on board as there is no real incentive. But once Tushky had a good base, service providers started coming onboard without questions because they could see the benefits their competitors were deriving.
The other hurdle Talvinder had to cross was with the team which is a problem any startup founder would relate to. Talvinder had to take on the mantle of building the product when the development team decided to move on (more on this coming up in a post about how he managed to shift roles). Over time, the Tushky team has restructured and has now settled on a foundation from where they can push.
Competition landscape and the road aheadFalling in the category of 'In Destination' within the travel funnel, this is one of the toughest markets to crack and Talvinder knows this. Poshvine is another Bangalore-based startup backed by MyFirstCheque that initially started out with reservations for high-end restaurants and finally has settled on the travel and leisure activities.
“We are contemplating on expanding out of just leisure activities and include all kinds of service providers but that is further down the roadmap,” says Talvinder. The current focus is on strengthening the technology platform and providing tools to merchants to improve the experience and serve the end customer better.