Deep Kalra Curated
Founder and Chairman, MakeMyTrip
CURATED BY :
What according to you is “innovation” as an entrepreneur?
What did you study and where did you work before launching “MakeMyTrip”?
How did you take a plunge into Entrepreneurship?
What were your early business plans for MakeMyTrip when you started?
How did you get your first round of funding when you started?
Did you ever feel like giving up during tough times?
What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs?
What should one keep in mind while scaling up a business?
What are the primary marketing efforts that one should focus on?
How do you go about making strategies or informed decisions?
What is your ideology about business?
How does it feel to be listed on International Stock Exchanges?
As an Angel Investor, what are the few things you consider while investing?
Do you think India is tough place to start a business?
How do you manage competition in such a contested market like travel booking with Google and others entering the space?
When did you think of extending your product line and why?
How should one go about fund-raising and choosing the right investor for the business?
Who is your favourite internet entrepreneur today?
It’s been 16 years for MakeMyTrip. What would you call yourself today, a disruptor or an incumbent?
Being an entrepreneur, how does it feel to “let go” control and authority?
How valuable is the bus ticketing business now to MakeMyTrip?
Very valuable. RedBus is a market leader in a category that is highly fragmented, which places it in a very sweet spot. With redBus, we have a service that has innovated and solved many of the challenges faced by passengers and bus operators in the intercity segment of bus travel in India. Along the way, we have developed strong technological capabilities and a full suite of products - right from industry-leading mobile apps, desktop and mobile web sites to cloud-based SaaS platforms for bus operators to digitize and distribute their inventory, vehicle tracking application, a GDS and a booking platform for traditional travel agents - spanning the entire bus travel ecosystem. We get a lot of inquiries from companies around the world asking to partner with us or to license our technology, and recently we have identified the global markets as an opportunity for business growth. We have also made an investment in Bitla Software, a technology provider with SaaS-, cloud- and mobile-based solutions, with an aim at providing an extensive suite of technology products for the bus and hotel supplier ecosystem that will further strengthen our strong market position.
It took nearly a decade for Indians to be comfortable to book travel online, a couple of years on mobile. What are your thoughts about emerging options such as voice-enabled booking, chatbots and artificial intelligence?
Change is happening at a pace not known before, and all things touched by tech and travel is no different. A major driver of this change is going to be voice or conversational commerce. It’s still early days in conversational commerce, but we are seeing very encouraging results already as we drive deeper into the Indian market beyond big cities by bringing down barriers through voice commerce and a vernacular approach. We are making sustained investment in AI and natural language processing to understand user intent in a better way to leverage this technology and increasingly personalize service to every customer. Our chatbots (Gia for Goibibo and Myra for MakeMyTrip) have reduced the number of conversations which require human intervention by over 10%. In fact, all our customers booking train tickets are now fully served through Gia for any post-transaction queries. Our investment in technology behind chatbots is also helping us reach out to our users through WhatsApp – the most popular messaging app in India. By being one of a handful of companies to partner with WhatsApp in the rollout of their enterprise products in India, we’re now able to reach a vast majority of customers in India who are coming online for the first time. This has also helped us launch some customer delight features like Web CheckIn, Seat Selection, Reviews & Ratings etc. through WhatsApp. We’ve also rolled out Goibibo Xpress, a conversation-based app targeting the next 100 million internet users who are fairly new to the web and primarily use budget smartphones. The app is only 1.5 megabytes in total size supporting voice-based and chat-based inputs from users in both Hindi and English. This app currently allows hotel bookings, train status updates and status check of wait-listed train bookings. Soon, the app will also offer bus and train bookings and be positioned as the go-to app for the next generation of internet users across India.
Tell me something about your early days.
How did you make your way to success?
How did you start your corporate career?
When did you realize that you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
How did you acquire funding for your startup?
What is your opinion about people going abroad for holiday instead of exploring the beauty of India?
How do you find it difficult to find a proper infrastructure for your company?
How do you find the external factors disrupt the setting up process and running of the company?
Can you first tell us about Arraga Setu App & how it is going to be the big game-changer that the prime minister talks about?
Explain to us how this app works & how it is going to protect us?
Suppose during self test in the app i lie about the symptoms so how does that work?
How you are going to deal with the privacy issue of the people who dont want to give their personal data to the government?
As the app is running by first week of April so do you find it very responsive or how you find the reaction to the crisis?
When do you see travelling starting again?
Do you have a plan in mind how can we start lifting the lock down keeping in mind some sectors in terms of aviation?
What do you think precaution should begin from the airport?
What about the business travelers who are flying to Bombay for some meeting & coming back do you see that coming to an end ?
What are the sectors that are going to pick up after this or the sectors you want to invest & what are the sectors that are going to hit?
How do you see picking up as a private sector expecting government to to help you in terms of more grants, how you will expect to take up things again?
What is your advice to people who are individual travel agents, should their pack up their business & look for something new or hold on till the sector improve?
A quick demonstration of arga setu app to the people who haven't downloaded till now, How would you do it, is it very simple?
Other than giving information, what does Arogya Setu App really do?
How has digitization changed the travel industry?
What were the challenges that you faced while setting up make my trip?
This app works by using Bluetooth pinging and location monitoring which helps in arriving at the results. If I have the App, it can tell me whether I have been to a Hotspot and the Bluetooth pinging part should be able to inform me that if anybody in the room within 10 metres or 5 metres radius that I have interacted with, if at some point of time they get Covid positive then I get a notification. Is that correct?
What is your advice for travel startups?
This only works for the people who have downloaded the app. So, this is the understanding why everyone in the Country needs to download the app to stay safe.
There are many unexplored areas in the country, What are steps that should be taken to boost the domestic tourism?
In terms of helping the caregivers and a simple example would be, imagine one person takes a train and is found three days later to be Covid positive, the contact tracing is a difficult job. Now, with this app if a lot of people have this app, how does contact tracing is becoming easier?
So, basically if you are a caregiver right now or in the medical fraternity, if most of us have this app literally within seconds if one person tests positive and we know his/her unique id, over the past fifteen days, whichever other unique ids they have come up with potentially their mobile numbers we can have in seconds to reach out to them and exercise right now which is taking days per case?
Let us address the privacy part of this. The data which is generated, both the Bluetooth pinging and the location tracking data, it only gets uploaded to the server if you test positive. Is that correct?
Let us address the data wipe-out. Anybody who has a concern that somebody is tracking everybody I have met and wherever I have been. What if they can access the data, how are you preventing that from happening?
You have now taken over as executive chairman, Rajesh is the group CEO, why this needs to separate the two roads and what exactly are you going to be doing?
You said thet you want to work on future proofing the company , give me the levers that you want to deploy in order for you to be able to do so. Prioritize for me what the road map looks like?
Coming to your aspiration to be local player for global market, What is the timeline , what are the imminent geographies that we are looking at, what is aspiration there?
Your plan to go local in global market , what will the root be ,is it to pick up the existing businesses in those markets and then integrate them and then set up a local business there or you are going to go in there as make my trip, what is the strategy likely to be?
As part of the future proofing strategy, how much of fiscal prudence plays a role, What's the picture looking like in terms of being able to curb losses and move to black?
How do you respond to what is going on with the competition and specifically on this issue of predatory pricing because this has become an issue thst the govt. forget the CCI, that the govt. is up in arms against ..
What about the regulatory headwinds and regulatory challenges as far as the future strategy is concerned?
Rajesh has spoken about make my trip becoming a super app for travel now, in the next 12 months what should we epect on that front?