Improving infrastructure and technology in buses may have made the journey cozy and safer. But boredom remains a big challenge for passengers on long routes. Bengaluru-based TouringTalikes has been making bus travel ‘boredom-less,’ for the past three years.
TouringTalkies was the first company in India to introduce the Mobility, Bring Your Own Device (inside buses) platform to the market. “What started as a one-time idea to disrupt the travel industry by offering legalised, entertainment and infotainment in buses, is now a company with three different product lines catering to all aspects of bus entertainment and infotainment,” says Naveen Krishnaswamy, Co-founder, TouringTalkies.
The company’s iPES (intelligent Personal Entertainment System) lets passengers access hit movies from several genres in various languages, upcoming movie promos and relevant advertisements, prominent TV shows, music, games, books and newsletters.
With a combination of TouringTalkies’s latest product lines - Elite, Superlite, and Mobility, a bus gets features like flight-type announcements, automatic dropping point announcements, infotainment, cricket scores, a GPS system, and wake-up automatic alarms.
The Elite option allows travellers to pick their own programming and they can choose any content from TouringTalkies’s library on cloud, while Superlite offers the same features, but with limited content to choose from. For Mobility, travellers need to download the company’s Android app inside the TouringTalkies-enabled buses. “The end traveller will not use any internet with our local Wifi system. Customers just enjoy great entertainment on their own phones,” adds Naveen.
The brainchild of Thejaswi Gurumurthy and Naveen Krishnaswamy, TouringTalkies has tied up with top content houses in Bollywood, Tollywood, and Sandalwood, and is also creating in-house content. “We have 150 plus connected to our platform with a strong pipeline,” says Naveen. Headquartered in Bengaluru, the company has support offices in Pune, Chennai, Hyderabad, and soon will have one in Nagpur.
The team comprises 20 odd members. Naveen, who headed engineering for redBus in his earlier job, manages sales, technology, and operations for TouringTalkies. Thejaswi lives in the US and manages finance and strategy for the venture. His past experience includes positions at UBICS, IBM, and Aditi Technologies.
Elite is the company’s premium business-class product and it services around 15 Elite buses a year, while SuperLite and Mobility are mass products that are targeted at sleepers and semi-sleepers. The company launched the Mobility, Bring Your Own Device (a full-fledged Android app) platform on a trial-basis on a VRL owned bus way back in November 2014.
The company faces competition from new entrants like PressPlay, Cloud Play and Dwingloo. “Now that we have some competition, it makes us work harder and smarter. But we were the first in this space and understand the market reality very well. We also have a varied range of products; right from high business class to mass products,” says Naveen.
Sequoia-backed PressPlay is another startup in the travel entertainment space but it offers tabs that are preloaded with content. However, Mobility TouringTalkies enables travellers to consume entertainment or infotainment on their own devices. “This positions us differently from our competitors,” concludes Naveen.