Chennai-based travel tech startup Pickyourtrail has raised about $3 Mn (INR 21 Cr) in Series A funding led by Kumar Vembu, CEO, GoFrugal and Shyam Sekhar, founder, iThought. Rajagopal Subramanian, CIO, Entrust and Girish Mathrubootham, founder and CEO of Freshworks also participated in the round.
This is the first external funding for the company and it looks to use the fresh funds to further innovate its product. Talking to Inc42, Srinath Shankar, cofounder, Pickyourtrail said that they will use the funds to scale up their proprietary technology platform and expand its technical team.
Pickyoutrail: Personalised Travel Plans
Founded in January 2014 by Hari Ganapathy and Srinath Shankar, Pickyourtrail enables users to customise their international travel plan by taking into account factors such as duration, travel time, and ratings.
Shankar said that with the fresh infusion of funds, they will also begin their first-ever paid marketing efforts as in the last five years, they have been growing mostly through word-of-mouth.
Girish Mathrubootham, founder and CEO, Freshworks, said “Pickyourtrail is redefining international vacations making holidays completely stress free, personalized and enjoyable – the way a perfect holiday should be. I saw many of our employees raving about PYT and that’s when I decided to back this great team”
How Does It Personalise?
The company uses machine learning and sophistical statical learning algorithms to simplify travel plans for its users. To enable travellers to plan their travel to the t, and their plan comprises two parts.
The first is logistics, where the users include the number of cities they want to travel, places they want to visit and the second part is customising it where they explain where they want to see what and when etc.
Here, Pickyourtrail seeks some metadata details from its users in terms of their likes and preferences in the travel. The algorithms help the company set up their itinerary based on these preferences, optimised on the basis of time and cost.
Hari Ganapathy told Inc42 that the company has also set its eyes on exploring other new age technologies to amplify its personalisation capabilities. To start with, it has begun using artificial intelligence (AI) in its CRM for sales people to enable ease of support to customers for example by advising when the person should call the customer etc.
No Domestic Travel Plans?
Shyam Sekhar, founder, iThought, said “Rarely does a business meet three criteria- creating customer delight, fulfilling tangible aspirations and a huge runway to achieving scale. The brand conveys experience, excitement and individuality. It connects with the millennial aspiration to be unique in how we want to see the world.”
However, inspite of the majority focus on customer experience, the company has stayed away from domestic travel planning and continues to see a larger market in the outbound market from India.
The founders emphasised that the company continues to double down on its focus on international travel as it finds the opportunity to change customer behaviour with higher-end travel plans exciting.
“In the domestic market, there is a lot of non-tech activity happening which makes it a very human capital intensive business, unlike our focus. The overall infrastructure also needs work as there are lots of issues with hotel and travel availability,” they added.
Travel And Tourism Market
Pickyourtrail claims to breakeven in every sale and has till date enabled over 10K travellers to plan trips to more than 200 cities across 14 countries via its self-service platform. The company has achieved profitability and aims to close FY19 with 70% Y-o-Y growth.
As an online travel aggregator, Pickyourtrail competes with the likes of MakeMyTrip, Yatra, ixigo. These companies have been in the business, fulfilling large domestic and international travel demands with huge marketing expenditures and customer acquisition costs.
India is now one of the fastest growing outbound tourism markets in the world, second only to China. The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) estimates that India will account for 50 Mn outbound tourists by 2020.
The Indian Outbound Tourism Market is expected to surpass $42 Bn by the end of the year 2024.
For Pickyourtrail growth has been mostly through the word of mouth support, without expending money on paid online or offline marketing. With a larger team in place and fresh funding, a stronger vision to focus on its niche on international travel will help Pickyourtrail grow deeper into the market.