A new place is more interesting if you can explore and know more about the people living there, languages they speak, different things they do and lot more. They make you rich in terms of experience and knowledge apart from the basic new things you have seen there. And if you are one of those who loves to pack up your bags to travel to a new place at every possible opportunity, you are not alone. Almost all of us love to break away to an unseen place to unwind, to create more memories and start planning the next trip before the current one finishes. However, there is a thin line that differentiates us when it comes to traveling to a new place. And Gilbert K. Chesterton describes this thin line more precisely as:
“The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.“
GuideTrip, a community marketplace for people to list, explore, and book unique travel experiences directly with knowledgeable and reliable local guides, helps you to explore and discover a new place just like a local.
Over a candid conversation with LifeBeyondNumbers, Arjun Sachdeva, co-founder of GuideTrip, shares more about his venture and how it is helping people with a better travel experience globally.
Arjun Sachdeva – The Person
I used to be a banker and briefly tried my hand at management consulting. I also played Squash for Delhi and am a trained Western Classical Pianist. A lot has changed over the years but two things remained constant however – the first being that I continued to travel within and outside the country and the second was acting in the capacity of a tour guide in India. In both capacities, I was able to understand the nuances of the travel guiding industry from either perspective and the thought of starting up in travel was nothing more than a natural progression. One by one, all the pieces started falling into place – I have been good friends with my co-founder Rohan whom I have known since 2011, and the both of us created what we believe is the next game changer in the travel industry.
GuideTrip – The Beginning
What began as a passion soon turned into a reality and a way to make a living – when I launched my first startup – Let’s Get Packing in 2012 which offered theme based guided tours across North India. As a first time entrepreneur in travel, I began connecting with lots of like minded people who had certain areas of expertise such as acting as tour guides, specializing in photography and cooking, adventure sports and even out-of-the-ordinary haunted tours. Everyone faced the same problem – we are doing something awesome but there is no way for travellers to get in touch with us directly. At the other end of the spectrum, travellers had no way to validate the quality of the guide, to top it all, pricing and safety concerns were always remained the primary concerns of most travellers. This led to the next phase of my entrepreneurial career – I launched GuideTrip in April 2014 – a platform which connects travellers with licensed local tour guides, globally.
Our value addition is the validation of each and every tour guide on our platform as well as the curation of their published travel experiences. This has worked well for us, and something that makes us stand out in the 60 odd countries we are already present in. Our second value addition is the social integration of travellers and local guides – something that has never happened before. Our platform is like a community – it is driven by both travellers and guides and we make it easy by helping them to directly interact with each other in real time. A traveller sitting in the San Francisco can today book a Balloon Ride in Bagan with just a few clicks using GuideTrip.
Our Five Top Selling Experiences
GuideTrip – The Current Scenario
I might have already mentioned this but GuideTrip has local tour guides available in over 60 countries globally. They offer more than 2000 guided tours and activities in over 300 global destinations. The signs are positive – with over 13000 unique visitors in just 8 months since Beta, we are confident that we can only get bigger and better. By April 2015, we plan to be present in over a 100 countries and with at least 5000 travel experiences. We raised an angel round quickly – via GSF India back in June 2014 and we are in talks with a few well known VCs to raise our next round.
In terms of competition, every competitor is unique in their own way – either via a product differentiation, a service provision or the markets they cater to. The industry is too nascent and there is no one stand out company as of date. GuideTrip has global operations and at the moment we are specializing in private and small group tours conducted by local tour guides across 5 continents.
GuideTrip – The Challenges And The Road Map Ahead
Hiring and retaining the right people is the biggest challenge for me as a Startup Cofounder. This is very clichéd but I also believe that a growing team with the right skills is key to the success of a startup in its formative years. The trick is to hire specialists and not generalists, even in an early stage of one’s startup. It wasn’t easy and we learnt the hard way but have been fortunate to find the perfect team (if I can go as far as to say that!) and are poised to double our team size in the next 6 months.
A few years down the line, we see GuideTrip as a market leader in the tours and activities space in multiple markets including South Asia, South East Asia and North Africa. More importantly, we have aspirations to be the largest provider of tours and activities (with a local tour guide) in the world in the same span of time.
Learning As An Entrepreneur
For me entrepreneurship boils down to a few simple things – ideas (your dreams and aspirations that we see as entrepreneurs), values (clarity about what can and cannot be done and most importantly learning to evolve from your original idea), resources (people and capital – everything else such as technology, patents brand names etc can be acquired if you have the first two), payoffs (what have I achieved so far as a startup individual and not just monetarily) and a little bit of luck (for me my lucky factors have been my co-founders unwavering ability to keep going on irrespective of the odds and my wife’s immense support and encouragement).
So, if you are planning now to travel to a new place, don’t forget to check out some of the unique experiences on our website and travel more like a local.
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