At 90di travel search comes naturally
Second in our Outfoscions series is a travel search product which is easy and humane to use. Yes, you don't have to fill to and from places, date, time textboxes. All you have is one single search box and ask it the way you ask your friend. For example Jammu to Knyakumari next monday gives my favorite Himsagar Express as first option and then the rest. 90di is found by three outfoscions Kiran, Abhinit and Naqvi. They surely have an interesting search engine in crowded market. As of now their concentration is on finding the best traveling option and guiding the traveller to the respective site. Which I think is very interesting considering most of the other travel portals allow you to book the tickets on their own site.
Here is an interview of them and thanks to Abhinit for taking time out to answer my questions.
[Thej]. How and when did you think about becoming entrepreneurs, was giving up a decent job difficult?
[Abhinit]While each one of us, would have a slightly different personal story here, but broadly we wanted to try doing something different and something of our own and so in May 2007 we took the plunge. Leaving the job certainly not easy but once we made up our mind it was not that difficult.
[Thej] Why travel planning site instead of complete travel portal?
[Abhinit] In some sense what we have is a full-fledged travel portal from our point of view. We think that business model wise, a travel search engine is better suited one in the long run, compared to that of OTAs. As the latter duplicates the functionality which is offered by Airlines themselves for e.g. and so on an average makes the cost of travel higher for the end-user.
So our approach to Travel Portal as a Travel Search Engine is mainly by design. Also we considered technology as our strength and so decided to leverage it.
[Thej] I know now you are planning to do consultation to raise money, How did you fund initially?
[Abhinit] Initially we funded with our savings. But we realized along the way that it takes longer then what you earlier thought to get established. So we do some consulting as you are already aware, to cover our operational costs.
However we keep ourselves open to Angel Investment offers from like-minded people.
[Thej] I guess you use GWT for UI. What other technologies do you use? BTW I like the way your single search box understands natural search queries. Do you like to give some insight into it?
[Abhinit] Yes GWT is great! We use a lot of Java and FOSS (Free and Open Source) technologies for our development whether it's for hosting our service, our service components or for our dev environment. To give some specific examples it's a lot of Java code and Eclipse as a dev environment and Linux as a hosting environment. And just like so many other proud users of FOSS, we are very thankful to these wonderful people who create so much of a good solid software for free, for others to build on.
[Thej] I see you guys interact a lot with twitter community. You even run Indian tweople stats script. How much useful is social media for self startups?
[Abhinit] It is very useful. A startup does not have funds to run a costly advertisement campaign and must embrace on mediums which do not cost lot of money. Also startup needs lots of collaboration, feedback and idea proofing which is available in abundance in places like twitter and Facebook.
And lastly the feeling of 'connectedness' with a larger community of friends/well-wishers/admirers is what makes it worthwhile in itself.
[Thej] Future plans?
[Abhinit] Well apart from continuing to focus on data quality, user experience and making back-end technologies more robust we intend to venture into more aspects of travel in future like hotels.
[Thej] Anything you suggest for to-be entrepreneurs, books, blogs or anything else?
[Abhinit] Aah this is a difficult one, so we would like to first up say that we are in no position to tell others what to do.
But not letting the question unanswered, and hoping that some thoughts are useful for your readers in some way here are some thoughts, in no particular order:
- You should have a burning desire to start something on your own. Of a kind where you really don't care about the outcome, but be prepared to go into it, just because that's the life choice you want to have work wise. And thinking ahead, you are okay with the outcome of 'tried and failed' rather than 'entertained the desire and not tried'. So at a very basic level, if you are mentally geared up with these kind of thoughts and preparedness, then you will automatically know and jump into it.
- Reading up a lot on lot of Entrepreneur/Tech blogs helps a lot to attain a level of mental preparedness. The main thing it helps you with is, by contributing towards keeping you motivated and energized. Also it helps you especially on your downs. As so many others have said, entrepreneurship indeed is a roller coaster journey. So if you really absorb the experience shared by the 'have been there and done that' kinds, you can really do a lot of things in the right way.
Since this point is about reading, its best to leave you with some good pointers to some people whom we like to read. To name a few: Paul Graham, Joel Spolsky, Marc Andreessen, Derek Sivers and last but not the least in any way, Dharmesh Shah. All of these guys have three things in common:
- They can code (emphasis on can)
- have all started companies and succeeded and
- also have decided to share their experiences.
- We can write a lot of other points if we try to. But since the earlier point led us to point you to these wonderful people who have really captured a lot, which we will end up repeating, so we suggest you do read up what these gentlemen have written.
- But finally, remember to also limit (and adapt) the extent to you want to follow these great guys. Because somethings you should do which you really believe in, irrespective of what anyone says for that matter. Remember you have decided to be an Entrepreneur! :)
I hope you are getting something out of this series. Let me know what do you think. Next two in the series will be outside IT and technology. I am already exited about them.
Note: This series is in no way related to my work at Infosys