Sunil GuptaFounder & CEO of PlanMyTour Published On: Thursday, February 18, 2016 Views 1599
"Success is just another chance away, give it a go."
Sunil is known to think outside the box, which has been one of the biggest reasons behind his success. He sees a solution everywhere and has all the qualities of a troubleshooter, executor, and visionary. With more than a decade of experience in IT as well as management arena, he has worked proficiently and given stellar performances.
He has an MCA in computer sciences and started his career as software engineers at TCS. His first stint at entrepreneurship came in the form of Myandaman.com. He later went on to launch another startup called planmytour.in. His aim is to create a very informative, easy, friendly and accessible platform for the whole tourism industry. It is a cloud-based platform, which connects a traveler with a local travel agent.
Please provide a brief overview of your product/ service.
PlanMyTour for customers:
A platform for the traveler, to design a tour itinerary of his interest, theme, and budget. We validate the itinerary instantly and show the dynamic cost from local agents with their USP. A traveler can book with best-suited travel agent based on their reviews & cost. A local travel agent would arrange & execute the tour.
PlanMyTour for businesses:
We have a SAAS platform that empowers the local travel agents. Travelers’ book tour packages from the big brands but they forget to realize that their tours get executed by the local travel agents. And if those local travel agents are not empowered their service is going to be same. So PlanMyTour has taken that initiative to empower and connect the local travel agents through IT. Currently, PlanMyTour is connected with more than 350 travel agents across India.
How is PlanMyTour different?
Validation, Cost comparison & Local connect are the 3 pillars of PlanMyTour that make us unique from others. PlanMyTour validates itinerary instantly and prevents travelers from making mistakes. Our platform maintains all the required information about each tourist destination that is required to design any itinerary. Data in our platform is maintained by the local agents under a closely monitored network. That’s the power of local connect. We facilitate the traveler as well as empower the local agent. We neither own any packages nor execute them.
What inspired you to build the above product/ service?
During my first startup, a travel agency (MyAndaman), I realized that most of our employees’ time were spent on non-productive work. However, this work (like designing packages, customization, cost calculations, follow-ups with customers, hotels, and partners, communicating through emails, SMS etc.) were also equally important. Our employees could not devote time to sales or talking to customers as they should have. This resulted in low conversion rate. I started talking to more people in travel space. In addition, yes, the problem existed.
Many startups were there in travel space but most of them were focusing in B2C. I could not find a single platform that could provide a solution to my problem.
There are more than1 lakh local travel agents in India with a projected market value of $150 billion by 2024. These figures gave me a strong indication of the sea of opportunity that lies ahead and motivated me to start the product.
I had the instinct to be an entrepreneur since childhood as I always wanted to something different but was looking for a right opportunity to start the journey.
Being brought up in the Andaman Islands, I used to receive calls from my friends turned travel agents for helping them improve their processes. I started with one of their bottleneck “problem with costing” and my small macro excel sheet solved their problem and changed their lives drastically.
Being software professional, I started to think of a solution.
What is your life mantra?
“To offer yourself to someone for smiles, to share someone’s grief, to have love in your heart for someone, this is what life is all about”
What was the most challenging part of your journey till now?
The most challenging part of my entrepreneurial journey was to start, yes it was a challenge to myself to leave my luxurious, peaceful life at HCL and take this new road filled with uncertainty. Startup life is all about making instant decisions, following heart, measuring steps and learning from your success or failures. As the founder of a startup, every day is filled with new challenges starting from handling clients, getting right technology, recruiting and what not. However, the challenge is to keep thinking different and finding instant solutions to keep your vehicle moving on the track of constant growth.
How did you overcome those challenges?
The approach was simple, diamond cuts diamond. I started my first startup (part-time), a travel agency with no investment. A website (www.myandaman.com) was designed by one of my friends on loan. Within one week I got my first customer and the startup started generating revenue. Within next 2 months, my first startup was profitable. Slowly I started learning how to build an enterprise; I learned marketing, sales, building a team and most importantly how to make a team operate independently. In a short period, turnover of MyAndaman was Rs 1 Cr with the profitability of 50% higher than our competitors.
Share some details about the investments that you have been able to fetch for the business till now.
We are bootstrapped but supported by two angel investors. One is from India and other is from Germany. We pool the money as and when required from these investors.
How do you protect yourself from the problem of Brain Drain?
I believe that in a startup, there can only be either entrepreneurs or intrapreneurs. Each employee of PlanMyTour was filtered carefully and now is an asset to the team. My motive always has been to inject the feeling within the employees to think PlanMyTour as their own child and work with the same passion as mine and so far, it has been good. We also have all facilities like Gym, Swimming Pool, Tennis Court, Basket Ball court in one of the best clubhouses in Bangalore. We have a policy of work hard and party harder. We also provide free food, accommodation, and bikes for our employees. We offer bonus whenever we hit the ball and we keep hitting the ball very often. Not the least we offer equity to our long-term employees.
According to you, what are the three qualities an individual must have to achieve success?
Believe in yourself. Acceptance for failure. Never give up attitude.
Which online tools/ services/ apps do you use the most and would like to recommend as well?
Slack: It is a cool app for internal communication and it has the power of web hook that reports any exception in applications or server immediately to team on their mobile.
Share any one habit which you think makes you more productive.
I think the regular communication with my team makes me and my team more productive. Communication brings new ideas on board and keeps tasks crystal clear among the team.
Share any one habit which you wish to change in yourself.
Working continuously for long hours is one habit that I definitely need to work upon. At this point, I do not think I can afford to have that change but definitely, will need to stop myself from working non-stop and spend quality time with family regularly.
Answer in less than 50 words
- One tip to success:
Kill the fear of failure. Everyone fails but successful are those who try to overcome the failures. Instead of cribbing about failure one should start working on new road maps for doing the things better.
- One mistake you believe every individual must avoid:
Never think success is served on a plate, you have to earn it.
- One most important lesson that you have learned until now:
Relationships with people pay you when you need them the most. In addition, in the journey of entrepreneurship, you would definitely need them repeatedly.
What are your plans for next 3 years?
- In next 3 years, my plan is to provide employment to at least 200 youth with PlanMyTour.
- To make the PlanMyTour as the first unicorn in online tour package platform.
- To Make PlanMyTour reach a profitability of Rs100 Cr.
If you get a chance to start your career again what would you do differently this time?
If I get a chance to restart my career then, this time, I would start my entrepreneurial journey very early.
What are your top three getaway destinations?
Maldives, New Zealand and Sikkim, India
Share a quote that inspires you the most.
Success is just another chance away, give it a go.