Have feet, will travel: 6 women-led startups that call out to the wanderer in youRekha Balakrishnan
Go off the beaten path and live a little with these travel startups that are run by women and, therefore, are clued in on their needs.
Are you travelling to end the year on a high note? Or to just take a break and relax before the vagaries of the New Year set in? Or, better still, are you looking at going on that gals’ trip you always wanted to?
There is no particular reason why one should travel – but it does satiate your wandering, restless spirit and brings you a myriad of experiences as you soak in new places and cultures.
According to the India Brand Equity Foundation, the Indian tourism and hospitality industry has emerged as one of the key drivers of growth in the services sector in India. During January-July 2018, FEEs from tourism increased 12.1 percent year-on-year to $17.09 billion.
In the burgeoning travel industry, a number of women-led startups continue to flourish due to the ingenuity of their ideas, exemplary service and the niche segments they cater to.
Here is a list of six startups run by women that are making a mark on the map.
The Wander Girls – Hetal Doshi
Hetal Joshi started The Wander Girls in 2013 in Mumbai to offer well-researched, ‘experiential’ trips for women travellers to Indian and international destinations. She has a list of marquee clients who are well-educated, urban women who are keen to explore the world on their own terms and earn the income to support their aspirations.
In an earlier interview to YourStory, she said. “The travel industry has undergone massive shifts and it’s an exciting time for consumers as they have a plethora of options from various travel startups. From buying flight, train and bus tickets, to stay options, to travel packages everything is being done in newer ways. It’s going to be a challenge for travel startups to keep innovating at the same breakneck speed and offer products that will ‘keep’ a consumer for life.”
Appooppanthaadi – Sajna Ali
Appooppanthaadi is a women’s only travel group from Kerala started by Sajna Ali. A software engineer, her interest in travel was kindled in childhood itself. The aim of Appooppanthaadi is to create memorable experiences and memories. Sajna speaks in awe of seagulls circling the group during sunrise on a boat on the Ganga at Varanasi, the first snow of the season in Tawang, the sun rising over the red hills of Gandikot, and the excitement and surprise on everyone’s faces at every place. A new startup, it has organised more than 100 trips for women across India.
Sajna says, “I don’t offer any luxuries. I arrange comfortable trips and take those who love to travel. I keep an open group for those who travel frequently; it’s an open forum for them to discuss anything under the sun. For the same reason it’s more like a family. Those who have met during the trips as strangers are now friends for a lifetime.”
Wovoyage - Rashmi Chadha
Rashmi is the Founder and CEO of Wovoyage, a travel startup based in New Delhi, which is particularly clued in on making women travellers’ time and money worth their while. Rashmi’s startup organises tours across the country and she has a loyal brand of travellers whose word of mouth has helped her sustain her bootstrapped venture. Her startup provides girl guides to solo women travellers. These girls are recruited through an internship programme that she runs through language schools. Wovoyage works with embassies and solo travellers.
Manjari Verma and Avani Patel – Broken Compass
Two friends, Manjari Verma and Avani Patel, started Broken Compass in 2014 when they got bored of their jobs and thought of venturing into travel as they had always been excited about travelling and planning for others. Broken Compass specialises in planning and executing custom travel plans for individuals and groups. It organises thematic trips for different occasions and takes pride in letting its clients see a new place as a traveller and not a tourist. It has a whole section dedicated to completing the bucket list. What makes this startup special is the fact that each travel solution is customised and tailor-made for people.
In an interview with YourStory, Avani said, “Although no independent data is available on the size of the customised holidays market, it’s a growing business. In the last four to five years we have seen families, who earlier picked group or packaged tours, now come to us for a customised holiday. So as the market is growing, travellers are also becoming open minded and are looking for something that suits their personality.”
Frontier Holidays - Bharathi Shetty
Bharathi Shetty is the CEO and Managing Director of Bengaluru-based Frontier Holidays. The company incorporates the latest technology in formulating travel plans for customers to ensure a comfortable travel experience. Its cloud-based corporate travel solutions platform powered by a fare-pricing engine claims to ensure the lowest and most accurate fares at all times. Of her venture, Bharathi says, “When we started out, the travel and tourism market was highly disorganised and haphazard. There were small pockets in lanes where travel agents used to help travellers to book tickets for commute. When families and corporate wanted a vacation, they had to undergo multiple hassles of figuring out minute details of the itinerary all by themselves. For them travel became less of a vacation and more of a task. We wanted to address these important pain points for travellers by creating a business model that would help them experience a hassle-free, happy time with their family and friends rather than worrying about unnecessary details required to make the travel plans.”
Ease India Travel – Ritu Goyal Harish
Ritu Goyal Harish is the Founder of Ease India Travel, a startup that specialises in curated holidays to Bhutan, paragliding trips in Himachal Pradesh’s Kangra Valley, birding and hiking trips in Coorg, Karnataka, and temple tours across nine famous religious landmarks in Kerala.
The holidays Ease India Travel offers are minutely customised for each traveller, even if they are part of a group. From the kind of room a person wants to have a bike available outside the airport to special requests for a favourite beverage to throwing surprises like an anniversary dinner at a five-star property or a blessing by a Lama for newlyweds, it take care of varied requests.
Ritu warns: “Don’t expect the usual route or routine! We are lovers of exploration by foot, of scaling peaks with the vigour that the mighty mountains demand, of discovering a monastery or temple hidden behind a range, of paragliding thousands of feet up in the sky, or soaking up the mysteries of the valleys and the healing touch of the mountain winds.”
Have feet? Then, these women are all set to take you places!