“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
– Confucius –
You hate Monday’s. Isn’t it? Because over the weekend, you do something you really enjoy and then the week ahead doesn’t allow you the same. If you are passionate about what you are doing, be it your current job or your own venture, then you will always wake up in the morning looking forward to your day, even if it is a Monday. When you love what you do, you will do it with greater passion. You will do it better, and longer too. And there is nothing more painful than being stuck in a wrong job.
Sarbojit Mallick, Tarun Biswas and Vignesh Prabhu. Meet these three 29 years young boys, the co-founders of TripHippie, having cumulatively more than 14 years of professional work experience in Steel Production and Business consulting in organizations like Jindal, Mahindra, L&T, Intel etc. No doubt they were doing good in their professions, but their heart used to beat for a different passion. A passion to travel, explore the new, and live like the locals of these unseen places. Sarbojit is an alumnus of NIT Durgapur and NITIE, Mumbai. Tarun is an alumnus of Jadavpur University and NITIE, Mumbai. Vignesh completed his computer science engineering from NIT Durgapur and M.Tech from UVCE.
TripHippie is a unique platform where global adventure seeker is put in touch with the remote local organizer for a more awesome and deeper adventure travel experience.
In a candid conversation, Sarbojit shared the exciting journey of TripHippie.
TripHippie – The Eureka Moment And The Journey
“We struck on the idea over a mug of beer when we were thinking of planning a trek. We were a team of two then, Tarun and myself. We used to go on weekend treks and adventure with all the information through various blogs and websites to plan them.We thought how can we provide all such information with people who wanted to go for such weekend getaways.“, says Sarbojit.
He continues, “Once we went to a place named Bhandardara near Mumbai and saw how community farming and camping is done. We found a lot of interest in people who wanted to explore rather than spend their time in hotels and standard tour packages. We conducted a pilot with camping near the Lake Arthur and we started a small marketing campaign. A team of 40 people signed up for the event. They camped in the wild, pure farm harvested food and indulged in hikes with the locals. The idea gave shape to a portal for local vendors to showcase their unique tours and treks which were otherwise lost in numerous facebook groups and blogs. We brought the real local experience and now Bhandardara camping is one of the bestselling tours. We iterated this idea to different treks and adventure activities and thus TripHippie was born.”
The TripHippie team travels with the local service providers and gauge their services. Onboarding is done on the basis of previous experiences which they collect from their alumni and friend circle. They have interns who travel with the service providers. The process is focussed on the quality and audit of the services promised by the provider. All the service providers associated with TripHippie are government certified and skilled. They all have immense knowledge of the local climate, terrain, remote sightseeing locations, dialect, cuisines and people.
“We went live in October 2015 and the response has been very good so far. We sold around 1000+ trips in the last quarter and it is growing by 100% per quarter. We cater to Indian tourists, companies and also to foreign tourists. We have served tourists from South Africa, United Kingdom, USA, Bahrain and from other countries. In India, we have corporate tie-ups for outings and team building exercises. We have international destinations and we are planning to expand to 5 countries in the next year.“, added Sarbojit.
Honey, Let’s Talk About The Money
With an initial investment of Rs.50,000 by the founders, TripHippie has been a bootstrapped venture since day One. And they have been profitable since the 2nd quarter of their launch. This initial investment of Rs.50K was used to start the business development efforts and marketing of their experiences. The website was developed internally and all other efforts were handled by the team, reducing the operational costs to a minimum.
The revenue model for TripHippie is commission per transaction. But they also have a preferred partner program where they generate revenue on a profit sharing model. Almost 40% of TripHippie’s service providers are preferred partners.
“Our turnover till date is INR 1 crore plus until this quarter. We are looking to double the quarter earnings in Q4 of 2016. We are growing by 110% QoQ.“, says Sarbojit with a broad smile.
TripHippie’s target is to reach more than 150 destinations expanding their partner base to 500+ so to grow 5X to 10X by 2017.
The team is now planning to go for some external funding to keep pace with their ramp-up plans.
The major challenges for TripHippie have been the following:
1. Finding the right person to conduct the tour: They have come across a lot of service providers who could not deliver the quality and TripHippie have discontinued them from their platform. Providing safety and security along with other amenities is their highest priority.
2. Customer expectations: India is ripe for experiential travel but there are some misconceptions regarding aspects of an adventure tour. Many of their customers expect luxury in their tours which is difficult to provide as areas are remote and reachable only at certain periods of the year. TripHippie has overcome this problem by providing authentic experiences like Spiti Valley home stays where participants stay with a local Himachali family in their homes, eat the local cuisine and engage in their day to day activities.
The Journey Ahead
“The expansion plans are from a product development side which includes making customized itineraries by the user. We are focussing on the adventure and experiential travel with local experiences. We are expanding in international markets with our local partners in the respective countries. The expansion will be in terms of the vendor base and also the destinations covered with an easy to use product where users can develop their own experiences.” Sarbojit is always enthusiastic to talk about the future plans.
“We have some fun moments listening to some of the weirdest customer demands. We always try to fulfill them until they are outrageous or illegal. TripHippie, the name came from a lot of brainstorming as we wanted a hippie in the title. After a lot of sessions over beer and coffee, we came up with this name and then we thought it might be a tongue twister. But surprisingly, our customers have remembered this name well and keep coming back.“, Sarbojit says with lots of hope as we take our last sip of coffee.
Go. Plan your next adventure travel with them here and experience it just like a local.