Gone are the days when Indian families would plan their trip six months in advance after spending long, restless hours standing in the queues of ticket booths. Now, it’s just a matter of few clicks to plan your travel in no time and this change is induced by Makemytrip.com, the pioneer of Indian OTA industry with about 50% market share, making its founder chairman, Mr Deep Kalra “the poster boy” of Indian OTA industry.
After doing his master’s in business administration from one of the best B-Schools in the country (IIM-A), Deep Kalra took the seemingly conventional route and started his career with ABN Amro Bank and GE Money between 1991 and 1999. He reached the senior levels, but gave it all up to follow a different track. It was in 2000,with some money saved from bank, he began to get that entrepreneurial itch and that itch created a landmark in OTA industry.
Like in the case of most entrepreneurs, Deep was troubled by the lack of a sense of personal achievement in corporate jobs. In 2000, he was bitten by the internet bug like a million others. The dotcom bubble burst the next year. So, Deep had two options: start a stockbroking firm that he rejected because of lack of funding, or pursue something in travel, his real passion. Hence, makemytrip.com was born with a business plan jotted down on a paper napkin to raise funding from his VC friend. Kalra denies it and says, ”In fact, my business plan for MakeMyTrip was well-written and in Excel and Word file, spreading into several pages, which was proofread by my wife. What my friend Neeraj Bhargava of eVentures and I agreed to on a napkin was financial terms of investments.” But travel too was not a happening sector at that time, especially using the internet as a medium to woo clients. So he focused on NRIs.
Initially in a small office in Okhla, New Delhi, MakeMyTrip started its journey in the US-India travel market in 2000.He mainly focussed on NRIs because at that time internet was not a trustworthy source for spending your money. In his own words, “I always trust data. I found that the number of non-resident Indians browsing the Internet was increasing, but in India, they were browsing but not buying. So I made targeted advertisements for NRIs. It paid off. We broke even in 2003 after three years.”
Once the break-even was achieved, there was no turning back. It was high time to focus on the Indian market and the success of IRCTC strengthened his strategy. This was enough proof that an online travel portal can attract enough eyeballs, as well as become profitable. He switched to the Indian market in 2005, when the entry of low-cost airlines got people to book tickets on the net. The rest, as is said, is history. In July 2010, the parent firm of MakeMyTrip (India) Pvt. Ltd and MakeMyTrip.com Inc. filed a registration statement with the US Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offer. Kalra successfully listed his firm on NASDAQ in August 2010, and its stock soared to two times its initial public offering (IPO) price of $14 (around Rs. 630) each—it stood at $30.76 as of 5 January. Just about a decade since its inception, the online travel agency has captured an enviable chunk of 48 percent in the online travel market. Today it is one of the most preferred names in the industry with one out of every twelve domestic flights in India booked via it. Currently, it has offices in 20 cities across India and two international offices in New York and San Francisco, in addition to several franchise locations.
Mr. Deep Kalra changed the definition of Holidays in India which once used to meant visiting relatives’ place but now holidays stand for a new adventure. Indians have started thinking what they will do rather than where they will go. So, What is your holiday destination this vacation?
Contributed by Akash Gupta
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