Companies

Start-up that adds thrill to holiday plans

Amrita Nair Ghaswalla Mumbai | Updated on September 23, 2013

Experiential and activity-based travelling is on the rise in India. — PTI

THE OFFBEAT PATH

Abhishek Daga, the 29-year-old co-founder of Thrillophilia.com, an online experiential travel marketplace, is thrilled to bits. His start-up has bagged angel funding to the tune of $2,00,000 (Rs 1.2 crore) in a funding round led by Hyderabad Angels iLabs Venture Capital Fund, the Navlok Ventures, and IIM Ahmedabad’s Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship.

Experiential tours

Thrillophilia is a travel curator, a marketplace for operators of experiential tours in India. The firm provides short duration experiences and things to do across different destinations in a segment that is gaining immense popularity within the travel and tourism space. It received $60,000 in its first round of seed funding last year from investors in the US. The new funding is expected to boost development in experiential tourism.

Daga said, “We are not into adventure travel as such, but are more into experiences of India. We provide offbeat Indian experiences. We realised this has a huge potential, given that it is a $2-billion market in India.”

Experiential and activity-based travelling is on the rise in India, with several Indian start-ups offering tourists a host of options. Founded in 2009, Thrillophilia offers tours such as an eco-voyage around Kerala, sea kayaking expeditions in Goa, snorkelling with elephants, a night camp in a forest, a royal dinner at a palace, or a micro-light flight tour. It is present across 72 cities and has served more than 50,000 travellers.

“As of now, we cover 38-40 cities. We want to scale up. Over the next three years, we plan to bring in more than 6,000 experiences. We don’t do hotel bookings and flight bookings on the site. The tours are meant for weekend experiences or things to do at a particular spot,” said Daga, who added that in 2011, “when we were not fully immersed in the business yet, we managed to make around Rs 40 lakh. This helped us fortify the idea that we needed to get into the business completely.”

A back-bencher in college, he said it was his wife Chitra and the couple’s love for travelling that got him involved in business.

“We realised that it was difficult to find the right tour or guide on many of our personal trips,” said the travel aficionado. “In 2009, we decided to share information on how to conduct adventure travel in India. In that one year, we did about 400 destinations and curated all this information on a blog. It was only then we realised we could build this as a business,” said Daga.

Having a tech background helped, for Daga holds a B. Tech degree from IIT Varanasi and worked at Cisco for four years, while his wife is from ISB – Hyderabad and was employed at SAP in Bangalore.

Revenue model

About their revenue model, he said, “Around 24 per cent of our revenue comes in from international travellers. We get around 1.7 lakh unique visitors on the site, though a lot of people come in just for information. We typically serve 22,000 customers a month.”

The company relies on an outdoors team that does a lot of research on the different tours. “As of now, we have a strong outdoor team consisting of 30 members since our trips include a lot of physical verification. They conduct detailed on-the-ground research on local vendors and travel across destinations to curate and verify experiences. These are diverse people from all walks of society and we even have some from the Army and the Navy on the team. They test the vendor and do quality checks. Most of the investment will go into building a travel team which will curate the trips for us,” said Daga.

The Bangalore-headquartered start-up has over 400 activity-based tours and more than 1,000 offbeat travel experiences listed on the portal. As for pricing, the cheapest deal on the site is river rafting for Rs 500, at more than 18 locations, while a 22-day long cave tour in Meghalaya, in the North-East, is priced at Rs 1.5 lakh for each adventurer.

> amritanair.ghaswalla@thehindu.co.in

Published on September 23, 2013

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