Travel on your mind? This Mumbai-based startup lets you apply for a visa online
Thousands of people flock to Hyderabad’s Chilkur Balaji Temple, better known as “Visa Balaji Temple”, keen to pay obeisance to the deity and get their visa. But divine intervention isn’t necessary, thanks to Mumbai-based startup GetMyVisa.
Launched in 2015 by friends and colleagues Apurva Mody, Ritesh Ved, Janak Mehta, Hemang Maniar, and Madhu Salainkar, the online platform aims to provide the Indian traveller an easy, assisted, timely, and economical visa facilitation and submission solution.
The co-founders, all seasoned travellers, realised that the country lacked a one-stop visa facility that could simplify the process.
Apurva, the Co-founder, says, “You depend on travel agents to process your visa. This also includes the cumbersome task of understanding the process, procedure, and documentation. We wanted to make this a stress-free and enjoyable experience for travellers. After a lot of deliberation, we came up with a name and identity that is easy to remember and has a fantastic recall: ‘GetMyVisa’.”
Soon after, the five co-founders bootstrapped the startup and started operations in January 2019.
Currently, visas for 90+ countries can be processed seamlessly on GetMyVisa. The process covers e-visa, third party, and in-person submission with interview and biometrics collection.
“We aim to be the leader in online travel visas and smart travel essentials facilitation and processing in India, South Asia, South East Asia, GCC, and China,” Apurva says.
Dealing with the challenges
During their research, the founding team realised that umpteen information related to visas (or various countries) was scattered across the internet, but there was no online platform that could process visas seamlessly, including pickup and drop of passports.
Apurva says their first challenge was building the model.
“There were a lot of knowledge gaps leading to delay, visa rejection, and penalties. Also, travel essentials like insurance, Eurail pass, sightseeing tickets, airport pickup, and curated information aren't addressed as a priority by most travel agents. The millennium traveller, a ‘self-traveller’, is hungry for an online service and finds none available,” Apurva says.
Building the platform
The next challenge was a technological one, and involved using the right technology and CRM solutions, integrating with potential partners, and giving the user a WOW experience.
Ensuring that the website had the correct and up-to-date information on each country’s visa process was vital. The team had to build a complete repository of country-wise data and processes, and ensure the “hygiene factor”.
“We needed to have a trial and see if this worked and was accepted. We had a closed group usage of the portal and used the feedback to further work on giving every user a delightful experience. Currently, visas for more than 90 countries can be processed on GetMyVisa,” Apurva says.
The process is simple. All you need to do is select the country of travel on the platform. You can buy insurance if you want or simply upload requisite documents and wait for the soft copies to be verified by the ops team. After that, you can schedule pickup of documents. The ops team submits the application to the embassy, and the passport is sent back to you through courier with the visa.
Getting the right talent also wasn’t easy.
The team at present comprises 20 staff members, including customer support and engagement, quality check, logistics, development, and technology teams.
“We also work with various partners, including Blue Dart (for logistics), Adwebtech (for an adtech country), Viator (for attraction pre-bookings), BookMyForex (for foreign exchange), Car Trawler (for car rentals), and Bajaj Allianz (for travel insurance),” Apurva adds.
Apart from helping secure visas, GetMyVisa also provides a destination country profile, customs and duty-free information, driving licence information, health, travel tips, and VAT refund information. Emergency handling information such as Indian embassy and consulate contacts overseas are also available.
Revenue and the future
After starting operations in January this year, the team claims to have already processed close to 2,000 visas along with travel insurance, Eurail passes, and forex.
GetMyVisa makes revenue from visa service fees, advertising and tourism promotion, and by selling travel essentials like insurance, forex, rail and travel passes, and tickets for local attractions. They also generate revenue from the white label GetMyVisa online platform via OTA, travel agents, partners, and corporates. This
GetMyVisa at present charges the VFS and embassy fees as actuals. The service fee depends on the jurisdiction and the country of travel. The fee ranges from Rs 299 for an e-visa to Rs 1,999 for a sticker visa.
“GetMyVisa charges a visa processing service fee that depends on the country. The revenue per visa can be between Rs 500 and Rs 1,500 per application. Additional revenue from travel insurance can add Rs 400–1,500, in terms of commissions. For other services, we receive commission from the respective agencies,” Apurva says.
The team, bootstrapped with close to Rs 1 crore, claims to have made revenue of Rs 35 lakh in the last nine months.
“We then received additional funding of Rs 90 lakh from family and friends and have grown to a Rs 12 crore valuation,” Apurva says.
Currently, GetMyVisa competes directly with government visa websites and portals.
Speaking of their future plans, Apurva says, “We intend to launch a mobile app and a B2B portal for travel agents and Application Programme Interface (API) and White Label for airlines and OTAs.”
With 50 million Indians travelling abroad every year, there’s never going to be any shortage of demand for visas. That is what GetMyVisa is banking on.
(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)