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How Akshay Oswal, the scion of Oswal Group, left the family business to start up

Aparajita Choudhury
19th Jul 2015
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Being a scion of the renowned Oswal Group of Companies, Akshay Oswal could have easily joined his family business and taken the legacy forward. But the contagiousness of entrepreneurship does not seem to have spared Akshay. His love for travel, ability to take risks, and India’s swelling startup culture came together to inspire him to kickstart his Trendset Traveler venture.

Akshay developed his passion for entrepreneurship while he was pursuing his Masters in Entrepreneurship in Case Western Reserve University, US. During his three-and-a-half years in the US, he travelled the length and breadth of the country, covering close to 30 states. And he didn’t just stay within the US; he even backpacked across Europe for a month or two.

Akshay Oswal, Founder, Trendset Traveler
Akshay Oswal, Founder, Trendset Traveler

He says, "All the experiences I had while on my travels inspired me to launch my own travel startup."

The genesis

Headquartered in Ludhiana, Trendset Traveler is a three-month-old startup. It aims to provide a one-stop solution to all travel needs. The platform provides customers experience-based packages, such as an African Safari, an Antarctica Cruise, a Ladakh Luxury Tent Stay, and Culinary Tours. Besides, customers can also avail of boutique accessories to suit their place of visit.

Initially, Akshay had a tough time scouting out individuals with strong prior experience in the travel industry who were willing to take a risk of working with a startup.

In India, experience-based outbound travel is still in the nascent stage. Therefore, convincing people to go for experience-based rather than run-of-the-mill travel, and educating them on the same, is a difficult task.

Akshay emphasizes the growing need to educate people on these unique travels, which provide a flavor of that particular place. Thus, there are opportunities in the luxury group travel sector, but people need to be educated on this kind of travel as these tours are not like other travel agencies.

We’ve positioned ourselves as a unique experience-providing travel company. We are able to do so because we have partnered with companies that are specialized in their own particular fields. Also, we are intent on having people who travel in a unique and experiential way share their experiences with us.

Creating differentiation

Trendset Traveler deals with five-star properties like Taj, Oberoi and ITC. It also deals with handpicked properties abroad, which customers can travel to for an experiential holiday. It might be to Africa for adventure travel, a culinary experience in Morocco, or honeymooning in islands all around the world.

Akshay says,

We provide customers with boutique travelling accessories, customised packages, consultancy, and a platform to share their travels.

Generating revenue

The revenue model of Trendset Traveler is based on booking travel packages and selling boutique travel accessories. It will soon start to sell banner space on its website to generate more revenue.

Currently, the startup has catered to around 14 customers with pricing starting from around Rs.1 lakh and going up to Rs 35 lakhs. Akshay claims that their travel packages are different from other travel agencies’economy class flight bookings, and two or three-night stays at random hotels. Trendset Traveler basically provides an experience to its clients, through their partners in India and around the globe.

Road ahead

Having received good responses from Delhi, Trendset Traveler intends to set up a physical office there. The startup is also working on developing a mobile app, on which people can post photos and share experiences they had on their travels.

The startup also plans to host travel events in association with sponsors promoting travel culture in Tier II and III cities.

We invite clients who travel with us to share their experiences/ travel story on our platform. Our goal is to ultimately publish a periodical online magazine, in which people share their unique travel experiences and motivate others to travel differently.

The Indian travel and tourism market is estimated at $42 billion, and is extrapolated to grow with a CAGR of 10.2% over the next 10 years. As per World Tourism Organization’s report, by 2020, India will be the South Asian leader in the tourism industry, with 8.9 million arrivals to the country.

Though the online travel industry is dominated by MakeMyTrip, Yatra and ClearTrip, recently, a plethora of startups, like Stayzilla.com, Mygola, and Travel Triangle, etc. have sprouted in this space. These travel startups have so far created benchmarks in the online travel industry, inspiring others to embark in this domain.

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