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Presented By:
Bhawna Singh
Launched in 2007, IXIGO.com is India's leading travel search app, connecting over 100 million travellers
with content & deals from over 25,000 online & offline travel & hospitality businesses. It aggregates and
compares real-time travel information, prices & availability for flights, trains, buses, cabs, hotels,
packages & destinations.
ixigo's mission is to simplify the lives of travelers by building apps that make their travel search and
planning hassle-free and it has won several awards in its journey, including the TiE-Lumis
Entrepreneurial Excellence Award and the NASSCOM Top-10 Emerge Award.
The company has raised nearly $25.5 Mn funding from its investors, which include Sequoia Capital India,
Fosun Kinzon Capital, SAIF Partners, MakeMyTrip & Micromax.
In its over 11 years of existence, the company has become a quick reference platform for millennials
who love to travel. Of course, it’s taken the founders a lot of hard work and grit to get where they are
today. And of course, they’ve had their good and bad days in the 11-year-long journey.
Founded in June 2006
Headquarters at Gurugram, Haryana, India
Website www.ixigo.com
Captains Of This Flight
Aloke graduated from IIT Kanpur in 2001 and
started his career at Amadeus in Europe where he
held key product and technology roles, building and
managing large scale web-based products and
networks for the first four years of his career. He
then went to INSEAD for his MBA, and returned to
India to launch ixigo.com in 2007.
Rajnish would better be known as a Code Ninja (Kiai!),
considering his history of technology lifecycle
management and several J2EE applications to his credit
(used by Amadeus even to this date). Sticking close to his
love for both technology and travel, he co-founded
ixigo.com with Aloke in June 2006. He is the mean-lean-
and-codes-clean kinda guy, heading the Technology
process at ixigo.
Ixigo.com is an online travel search engine that was founded in 2006 and being true to the sector it is in, iXiGO
has had quite a journey itself.
The initial days
Co-founded by IIT Kanpur batchmates of 2001, Aloke Bajpai (CEO) and Rajnish Kumar (CTO), iXiGO set foot into
the travel space with flights in 2006 as those were the days when many new airlines were coming up. “We had
been in travel space in our previous companies as well and starting up was always on the cards. Combining the
two, we launched iXiGO,” says Aloke.
The traction was good and they reached 100k users in the first 6 months. “We were looking to raise money for
the first whole year of operations from investors in India but no one was willing to put in money in spite of the
traction,” says Aloke. They persevered but things didn’t really work out and the situation was looking murky
financially. Aloke started to look at other avenues and got in touch with William Klippgen (BAF Spectrum) via
the INSEAD network. William had sold his company to Yahoo! for half billion dollars and had shifted base to
Singapore to invest in startups.
“The vision aligned and the whole deal was closed within a week!” says Aloke. Surely a lesson in how a broader
vision helps and one should not restrict when looking out for something. You never know where the money
would come from.
iXiGO now had decent cash and expanded the team size from about 6 people to 20 people. Traffic had grown to
200k unique visitors a month and they had enough money to last a year and a half. “We decided to spend the
money slowly over 18 months in development and marketing but we saw a lot of inbound investment offerings,”
says Alok. A well reputed fund offered a $5 million series A round and the temptation was hard to resist. iXiGO
accepted the offer and modulated its plans aiming for a rocket growth instead of a steady one.
We upped the ante and spent more on marketing. The traffic was surging and things were going good but the
investment took time in coming. After more than 4 months of confirming the offer and the everlasting ‘due
diligence’, the firm withdrew the offer. “We were in a shock. Everything was fine in terms of the product but this
was a huge setback in term of our planning,” says Aloke. Things needed to be rethought and iXiGO learnt that the
money hasn’t been raised till it is sitting in the bank.
In iXiGO’s case, the angels stood true to their name and agreed to put in a bridge round. “They knew we hadn’t
blown away the money and trusted us with another round which gave us the much needed support but along with
this, another phenomenal thing happened,” says Aloke.
And then…
The Startup Spirit
Times were tough and layoffs were necessary. They downsized the team to an extent but then all the employees
came to a unanimous decision-
All the employees decided to work for half their pays till the times improved
“The founders came down to zero and all employees took a 50% cut and this continued for 9 months!” says Aloke.
This act of unity brought iXiGO together and is a moment what binds them till date. Aloke believes that act to be
the turning point in iXiGO’s journey.
Improving times
The time was 2011 by now and the ship had steadied. iXiGO was now skeptical of talking to investors in India but
they had to move on. “Our traffic had gone over a million users a month and we were again seeing rising investor
interest. We treaded carefully and finally decided to go ahead with SAIF partners and MakeMyTrip,” says Aloke.
The deal-
SAIF Partners and MakeMyTrip invested $18.5 million into iXiGO in 2011 with SAIF Partners taking 56.7% stake and
MakeMyTrip taking 20% stake in the company.
iXiGO has grown to 1.3 million unique visitors a month now and has expanded the horizon to becoming a travel
knowledge engine helping people right from the time they’re seeking inspiration to travel to the point they decide
to transact.
Lessons Learnt:
•Don’t spend more than 20% of your time in raising funds: Everyone tells you that
focus only on the product and investment will run after you but when you’re in the
dump, you know how hard it is. You need optimize time and make sure that you’re not
spending more than 20% of your time on raising funds. That much should be
sufficient.
•Monitor marketing spends: If you have a consumer product and if the traffic is
growing organizally at a rate of 5-6%, then only market. Otherwise, you can be pretty
much sure that the product is not being accepted.
•Team comes first: Customer is the king but even before it comes the team. If the team
is not happy, customers can never be happy. Looking at it from a fundings perspective
or any other area, a founder should always think about the team first.
The 3 Major Turning Points In Ixigo’s Journey
The first, he says, was the fact that the company was started with just one motive in mind — building a product
that could help Indian travellers search and compare hotel information at one place, online.
“It was purely that passion that got us started. During those days, we did not even think about funding. Our focus
was on developing a product that the world actually needs,” Aloke Bajpai shares.
Even though at the time they launched, there were already a couple of companies built around similar models and
even though theirs was an unproven model in those days, the ixigo founders kept the faith in their vision. They
genuinely believed that ixigo would offer a more user-friendly way of searching for travel information. Once they
had the product, they talked to clients and received a lot of turndowns.
So, here comes the first lesson: As an entrepreneur, you will hear a lot of ‘no’.
“That does not mean that you are on the wrong path. Rather, it means that you are on a difficult path and if you are
able to build that path for yourself, you will have created a new market. One thing we did successfully was that we
created a blue ocean (strategy) in this red ocean of online travel aggregators (OTAs),” Aloke says.
Ixigo was the fifth OTA company to launch in India, with the other four being well-funded. Aloke believes that it is
important to believe in your vision and not get dissuaded by all the ‘nos’ coming your way.
The second lesson for ixigo was that fundraising is not a cakewalk.
Aloke shares that fundraising was very difficult at the time as there were very few funds and they
were not focused on tech products. Therefore, ixigo couldn’t attract investors and ended up raising
seed fund from Singapore.
“The whole process made us realise that we have to learn to survive without money and we actually
did that for several years. We actually raised our Series A more than four-and-a-half years after we
started the company,” shares Aloke.
The third learning was related to this experience — forced to bootstrap, the ixigo founders figured
that one doesn’t need a lot of money to build a product or a tech company.
Aloke contradicts those who believe that you can’t build a large-enough business without spending
hundreds of millions of dollars on marketing, especially if you are building a B2C brand.
He says, “Here, we have 12 Mn monthly active users. In the cumulative decade, we have not spent
more than $4 Mn-$5 Mn on marketing. That’s because we have consistently focused on the product-
user experience, making sure we deliver what we promise. That has to be the DNA of any good
product company.”
A Google India-BCG report expects that India’s travel market (both offline and online) will become a
$48 Bn industry within the next three years. Looks like ixigo has found another milestone to achieve.
Strengths One of the earliest market entrants
Presence in the international business scenario
Secure and trusted channels for facilitating payments
Attractive brand name and convenient website navigation
Weaknesses General reluctance in consumers to use internet for financial transactions like booking ticket online
Opportunities Customers currently using traditional methods of bookings
Offer better travel packages in line with customer expectations
Untapped sections of international tourism market
Threats Possible lack of coordination with tourism entities
Present competitors having substantial market shares
Newly emerging online booking portals with better offerings
SWOT Analysis

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Ixigo startup

  • 2. Launched in 2007, IXIGO.com is India's leading travel search app, connecting over 100 million travellers with content & deals from over 25,000 online & offline travel & hospitality businesses. It aggregates and compares real-time travel information, prices & availability for flights, trains, buses, cabs, hotels, packages & destinations. ixigo's mission is to simplify the lives of travelers by building apps that make their travel search and planning hassle-free and it has won several awards in its journey, including the TiE-Lumis Entrepreneurial Excellence Award and the NASSCOM Top-10 Emerge Award. The company has raised nearly $25.5 Mn funding from its investors, which include Sequoia Capital India, Fosun Kinzon Capital, SAIF Partners, MakeMyTrip & Micromax. In its over 11 years of existence, the company has become a quick reference platform for millennials who love to travel. Of course, it’s taken the founders a lot of hard work and grit to get where they are today. And of course, they’ve had their good and bad days in the 11-year-long journey. Founded in June 2006 Headquarters at Gurugram, Haryana, India Website www.ixigo.com
  • 3. Captains Of This Flight Aloke graduated from IIT Kanpur in 2001 and started his career at Amadeus in Europe where he held key product and technology roles, building and managing large scale web-based products and networks for the first four years of his career. He then went to INSEAD for his MBA, and returned to India to launch ixigo.com in 2007. Rajnish would better be known as a Code Ninja (Kiai!), considering his history of technology lifecycle management and several J2EE applications to his credit (used by Amadeus even to this date). Sticking close to his love for both technology and travel, he co-founded ixigo.com with Aloke in June 2006. He is the mean-lean- and-codes-clean kinda guy, heading the Technology process at ixigo.
  • 4. Ixigo.com is an online travel search engine that was founded in 2006 and being true to the sector it is in, iXiGO has had quite a journey itself. The initial days Co-founded by IIT Kanpur batchmates of 2001, Aloke Bajpai (CEO) and Rajnish Kumar (CTO), iXiGO set foot into the travel space with flights in 2006 as those were the days when many new airlines were coming up. “We had been in travel space in our previous companies as well and starting up was always on the cards. Combining the two, we launched iXiGO,” says Aloke. The traction was good and they reached 100k users in the first 6 months. “We were looking to raise money for the first whole year of operations from investors in India but no one was willing to put in money in spite of the traction,” says Aloke. They persevered but things didn’t really work out and the situation was looking murky financially. Aloke started to look at other avenues and got in touch with William Klippgen (BAF Spectrum) via the INSEAD network. William had sold his company to Yahoo! for half billion dollars and had shifted base to Singapore to invest in startups. “The vision aligned and the whole deal was closed within a week!” says Aloke. Surely a lesson in how a broader vision helps and one should not restrict when looking out for something. You never know where the money would come from.
  • 5. iXiGO now had decent cash and expanded the team size from about 6 people to 20 people. Traffic had grown to 200k unique visitors a month and they had enough money to last a year and a half. “We decided to spend the money slowly over 18 months in development and marketing but we saw a lot of inbound investment offerings,” says Alok. A well reputed fund offered a $5 million series A round and the temptation was hard to resist. iXiGO accepted the offer and modulated its plans aiming for a rocket growth instead of a steady one. We upped the ante and spent more on marketing. The traffic was surging and things were going good but the investment took time in coming. After more than 4 months of confirming the offer and the everlasting ‘due diligence’, the firm withdrew the offer. “We were in a shock. Everything was fine in terms of the product but this was a huge setback in term of our planning,” says Aloke. Things needed to be rethought and iXiGO learnt that the money hasn’t been raised till it is sitting in the bank. In iXiGO’s case, the angels stood true to their name and agreed to put in a bridge round. “They knew we hadn’t blown away the money and trusted us with another round which gave us the much needed support but along with this, another phenomenal thing happened,” says Aloke. And then…
  • 6. The Startup Spirit Times were tough and layoffs were necessary. They downsized the team to an extent but then all the employees came to a unanimous decision- All the employees decided to work for half their pays till the times improved “The founders came down to zero and all employees took a 50% cut and this continued for 9 months!” says Aloke. This act of unity brought iXiGO together and is a moment what binds them till date. Aloke believes that act to be the turning point in iXiGO’s journey. Improving times The time was 2011 by now and the ship had steadied. iXiGO was now skeptical of talking to investors in India but they had to move on. “Our traffic had gone over a million users a month and we were again seeing rising investor interest. We treaded carefully and finally decided to go ahead with SAIF partners and MakeMyTrip,” says Aloke. The deal- SAIF Partners and MakeMyTrip invested $18.5 million into iXiGO in 2011 with SAIF Partners taking 56.7% stake and MakeMyTrip taking 20% stake in the company. iXiGO has grown to 1.3 million unique visitors a month now and has expanded the horizon to becoming a travel knowledge engine helping people right from the time they’re seeking inspiration to travel to the point they decide to transact.
  • 7. Lessons Learnt: •Don’t spend more than 20% of your time in raising funds: Everyone tells you that focus only on the product and investment will run after you but when you’re in the dump, you know how hard it is. You need optimize time and make sure that you’re not spending more than 20% of your time on raising funds. That much should be sufficient. •Monitor marketing spends: If you have a consumer product and if the traffic is growing organizally at a rate of 5-6%, then only market. Otherwise, you can be pretty much sure that the product is not being accepted. •Team comes first: Customer is the king but even before it comes the team. If the team is not happy, customers can never be happy. Looking at it from a fundings perspective or any other area, a founder should always think about the team first.
  • 8. The 3 Major Turning Points In Ixigo’s Journey The first, he says, was the fact that the company was started with just one motive in mind — building a product that could help Indian travellers search and compare hotel information at one place, online. “It was purely that passion that got us started. During those days, we did not even think about funding. Our focus was on developing a product that the world actually needs,” Aloke Bajpai shares. Even though at the time they launched, there were already a couple of companies built around similar models and even though theirs was an unproven model in those days, the ixigo founders kept the faith in their vision. They genuinely believed that ixigo would offer a more user-friendly way of searching for travel information. Once they had the product, they talked to clients and received a lot of turndowns. So, here comes the first lesson: As an entrepreneur, you will hear a lot of ‘no’. “That does not mean that you are on the wrong path. Rather, it means that you are on a difficult path and if you are able to build that path for yourself, you will have created a new market. One thing we did successfully was that we created a blue ocean (strategy) in this red ocean of online travel aggregators (OTAs),” Aloke says. Ixigo was the fifth OTA company to launch in India, with the other four being well-funded. Aloke believes that it is important to believe in your vision and not get dissuaded by all the ‘nos’ coming your way.
  • 9. The second lesson for ixigo was that fundraising is not a cakewalk. Aloke shares that fundraising was very difficult at the time as there were very few funds and they were not focused on tech products. Therefore, ixigo couldn’t attract investors and ended up raising seed fund from Singapore. “The whole process made us realise that we have to learn to survive without money and we actually did that for several years. We actually raised our Series A more than four-and-a-half years after we started the company,” shares Aloke. The third learning was related to this experience — forced to bootstrap, the ixigo founders figured that one doesn’t need a lot of money to build a product or a tech company. Aloke contradicts those who believe that you can’t build a large-enough business without spending hundreds of millions of dollars on marketing, especially if you are building a B2C brand. He says, “Here, we have 12 Mn monthly active users. In the cumulative decade, we have not spent more than $4 Mn-$5 Mn on marketing. That’s because we have consistently focused on the product- user experience, making sure we deliver what we promise. That has to be the DNA of any good product company.” A Google India-BCG report expects that India’s travel market (both offline and online) will become a $48 Bn industry within the next three years. Looks like ixigo has found another milestone to achieve.
  • 10. Strengths One of the earliest market entrants Presence in the international business scenario Secure and trusted channels for facilitating payments Attractive brand name and convenient website navigation Weaknesses General reluctance in consumers to use internet for financial transactions like booking ticket online Opportunities Customers currently using traditional methods of bookings Offer better travel packages in line with customer expectations Untapped sections of international tourism market Threats Possible lack of coordination with tourism entities Present competitors having substantial market shares Newly emerging online booking portals with better offerings SWOT Analysis