The Indian railways are the lifeblood for millions of people who travel daily across the length and breadth of India. While the service is mostly reliable, high demand and difficult booking procedures can make booking train tickets online a nightmare. There is also the issue of many reserved seats being unoccupied for long stretches of journeys, which are sometimes underutilised. Ticket Jugaad aims to solve this with their mobile app.
Cousin-duo of Shubham Baldava and Runal Jaju started working on Ticket Jugaad in October 2015. Shubham, a computer science graduate from NIT Jamshedpur, is a passionate Android developer. Runal is currently a student at IIT Kharagpur. He was drawn to starting up after working with IIT Kharagpur’s college's entrepreneurship cell, and organising several startup events including the entrepreneurship awareness drive in Pune and a startup camp in his college campus.
The idea for Ticket Jugaad came to Shubham when he realised that several stations on a typical railway route had quotas of reserved tickets which go underutilised through its journey. So he wrote some simple computer code to find a solution to it. He discussed the idea and solution with his cousin Runal who gave him inputs and also helped zero in on the business model that best fit the app. They decided to focus on a commission-based model for bookings rather than relying on ad revenues.
They faced some initial hickups and found it challenging to reduce the time required to process every query for long train routes with many stations. The second challenge they faced was developing an easy to use interface that the larger Indian audience could understand and use easily. Explaining how it works, Runal said,
Finding confirmed tickets in Indian railways is very challenging. So Ticket Jugaad optimises ticket booking in trains, using a unique and efficient algorithm that gives an alternative ticket option in the same train by identifying empty routes in the journey in cases of unavailable tickets as shown by IRCTC.
With this method, the app aims to help increase availability and provide users with an option to cover the maximum possible path with a confirmed ticket in their desired class of travel.
After multiple iterations and feedback from prospective users, they launched the final version of the app in January 2016. At this time, Ticket Jugaad got further validation for their app after winning IIT Kharagpur’s business-model competition, ‘Empresario’ and bagging INR 1.5 lakh as prize money.
Users need to enter their current location, desired destination, and preferred train number (optional). The app automatically finds available tickets starting from stations before or after the user’s source station with remaining ticket quota. It then combines all of the routes to provide the maximum path that the user can cover with the confirmed ticket. Users can then book tickets through the app with their integration with Cleartrip, their authorised ticket provider.
Ticket Jugaad is now looking to roll out a web version of the app. Apart from the founders, Shubham and Runal, they have a team of interns who help them with web app development, design, and content. Currently bootstrapped they aim to reach out for external funding in a few months, when they have more traction.
Currently available only for Android, they plan to launch an iOS version of the app too in the coming months. Their long-term vision is to use artificial intelligence and big data to make the booking process more seamless and easier.
The app has a simplistic functional design and layout and lives up to its intended promise of providing an alternative to ticket bookings when all else is lost.
Ticket Jugaad is a well-thought-out app. Users can select their desired class of travel and get access to the availability chart and the most optimal method to complete their journey. The app also includes an option of two view – ‘List’ and ‘Route’ – to help users better visualise and plan their journey.
For an app developed by a bootstrapped startup ‘Ticket Jugaad’ does well, but the design and layout can be further improved. Adding a map-based user interface in future iterations of the app would make it easier for users to visualise their journey better. Also, since the app is mainly targeting the Indian masses including Hindi and regional languages instead of only English may help increase user adoption.
Ticket Jugaad as the name suggests is a quick workaround to an otherwise persistent problem. Commuters would have otherwise had to shell a lot more money to book last minute tickets on alternate trains or pick air or road travel as a last resort. Bigger players in the market may soon adopt similar solutions in-house, to prevent underutilisation. It will also be interesting to ponder if this solution can be applied to other sectors and segments.
Download Ticket Jugaad here
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