This is an inspirational story from the travel startup founder and entrepreneur, Karthikeyan who is a versatile genius. He is the founder of “My Happy Journey,” currently located in Bangalore. My happy journey organizes tours and holiday destinations across India and abroad.
Karthikeyan was earlier working with the top notch travel portals of India but always had a feeling that there is a huge gap in the travel industry. He was always passionate about entrepreneurship. What’s more, Curiosity led to a new business idea. With a lot of enthusiasm, excitement and a drive to make it big, he turned his passion into a career. He quit his 9-5 desk job and started up his own travel portal My Happy Journey in 2007.
His dream is to provide the customers with the best of resources to make their money worthwhile they travel. He wants to give the best of the services at very reasonable prices, bringing about a change in the travel industry as well as a smile on his customers’ faces.
He talks about tourism in India and about his business, shares his experience, plans, views and message with us in this interview.
1. Tell us something about yourself?
I am an MBA topper from MK University, and I have a good expertise in SEO and Google AdWords. I live with a passion for driving the industry with fresh and new ideas and thoughts, with a perfect funda on how to run a show in a much profitable manner! I believe I have the perfect skills of marketing and management from a very young age. I can get along with people very easily, and I possess good interpersonal skills. I am always ready to face challenges and learn from my mistakes. I believe in having a vision and action in achieving it.
2. Why did you leave your last job? What ignited you to start this business venture?
Earlier I have worked with the top travel MNCs in their holiday planning section. I feel there is a big gap in the industry and customer handling was not really great. Travel agencies do not make an attempt at reaching out to customers at a personal level. They just have an objective of making money and pay the least attention to give out 100% information to the customers about the destinations and how they can best explore the place and make the most of their travel time! This factor ignited the passion in me. I believe in valuing the customers by educating them with ideas on how they can explore, dig in, have total information about various places and then plan their holidays at much lower price and get more comfort. As I mentioned earlier, I like to take up challenges in life and work on them. Hence, I decided to go further in this industry and make my career in it.
3. What do you want to achieve out of this Experience? Where do you see yourself and your business in 5 years? 10 years?
I want to see myself in a position where people respect me for my work, sincerity, and dedication towards my customers. I believe there is a big scope in this industry to automate the sales process and after sales services by giving continuous support to the customers throughout their trip. We hope that in the next 5 years we will be able to capture at least 30% of sales from Bangalore alone. And hopefully, in the next 10 years, we will capture 50% of the market share in domestic and international sales from all major metro cities of India. We further want to expand our business all over India in the coming years. We are running ads in Radio media, advertising all around Bangalore city and creating a good awareness in public about our ’Myhappyjourney.com’.
4. How do you generate new ideas? What motivates you? Who has been your greatest inspiration?
I was always interested in the field of travel from the very beginning. I like to explore and research new ideas and find out facts related to travel. I like to research about how to explore various places, how to move around the world, how to make the most of your travel time etc., My previous work experience with big and famous travel portals of India have also helped me grow a lot within the industry and made me think innovatively. I keep researching about new techniques to make travel more comfortable and satisfying the customers at a greater level, a level beyond the customers’ expectations. Moreover, I am a travel freak. I love to travel and explore new places. I feel a sense of satisfaction and get motivated when I see that my customers are satisfied with the services we provide. This makes me feel very happy and keeps me going. My inspiration and support system are my parents who have always helped and supported me throughout my journey of life. Secondly, my friends are my other support system, who have always encouraged me and helped me come up with new and innovative ideas for my business.
5. What would say are the five key elements for starting and running a successful business? When you started out in business, what specific idea, purpose or vision was your key driving force?
• People – those who make up the organization.
• Purpose – a reason for organizing and working together.
• Process – activities that people undertake to fulfill their purpose.
• Physical Resources – a place to work, the right equipment, money to help the business grow and the people who work there.
• Customers – people outside the organization who are willing to take services from our organization and constitute the main part of it.
I just want to represent myself as an odd man out when compared in the travel industry. A man with the innovative thought process and fresh ideas. I want to create a strong platform for customers and provide them with the best price in the industry! We always tend to sell more and provide more services to the customers with less profit margin. Our main goal is to win hearts and gain satisfied long term customers.
6. What are the problems you had to face? What would you describe as your major setbacks and what lessons did you pick from them?
The market of this industry was already captured by all the big players and it is very difficult to make a place for yourself and survive in such a scenario. Especially when we did not have sufficient working capital to run the show in the beginning. Moreover, Google AdWords prices have also raised a lot compared to previous years. Thus, we had to invest a bigger capital in the industry to pre-purchase inventory from hotels for the upcoming seasons. One thing I learned from the top players is that to get a market share in the industry; we need to invest bigger. We managed to get investment capital from various investors who are not less than any savior to me. We somehow managed to raise a total capital fund of $2,00,000 last year. This I consider being the biggest drawback I had to face until now. But it has helped me in learning a lot and has eventually made our brand name bigger and popular, and we have succeeded in capturing some market share, which for me a big accomplishment in a short time.
Myhappyjourney is a leading travel booking company that is committed to its customers. They wish to connect with the customers at a personal level, providing them with the best of services. They have also been awarded twice as the “Best Domestic Tour Operator” by Garden City college of Bangalore.
Karthikeyan is sure that in the next few years, he will succeed in expanding his business all over India and conquer 30% of Indian audiences. His story is all about stringing out your own passion and living your dreams.