Vision, Grit, and Customer Focus: The Secret Ingredients Behind EaseMyTrip's Billion-Dollar Empire

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In the first six months of its beginning, one of the travel agents duped EaseMyTrip by booking air tickets using fake credit cards. The bootstrapped company encountered a loss of Rs 26 lakh overnight and was on the brink of a shutdown. But Rikant, Nishant, and Prashant Pitti – Founders of EaseMyTrip – didn’t lose hope. They borrowed some money. Their father also supported them. The only thing they made sure of since then was that it would be their first and last mistake. 

But how did a home-grown company become India’s second-largest online travel agency with a market cap in excess of one billion USD?

This is their fascinating story. 

It started in the bustling streets of East Delhi where three brothers dreamt of bigger things. Nishant, Prashant, and Rikant Pittie weren’t your average kids. While others played hopscotch, they were busy brewing entrepreneurial ideas. Before smartphones even existed, they were already seasoned hustlers, downloading movies and selling CDs to their classmates. While their methods might not have been textbook perfect, the entrepreneurial spirit was undeniable.

Their family life wasn’t the most affluent, but it instilled in them a resourcefulness and determination that would later prove invaluable. Nishant and Rikant, the natural-born hustlers, started their journey by booking their father’s flight tickets to save on agent fees. What began as a small-time operation called “Duke Travels” soon gained traction, spreading like wildfire through word-of-mouth.

Meanwhile, Prashant, the intellectual of the trio, was carving his own path, studying electrical engineering at the prestigious IIT-Madras. But even with their separate pursuits, the brothers remained united by their shared vision. They saw the struggles travel agents faced with technology and knew they could build a solution.

In 2008, their shared vision took form. 

With a mere Rs 15 lakh and a burning desire to disrupt the travel industry, they launched EaseMyTrip. This wasn’t just another travel platform; it was a game-changer. 

EaseMyTrip offered travel agents a streamlined way to book flights, eliminating the need for hefty advance payments to airlines. Instead of requiring Rs 150,000 for access to five airlines, EaseMyTrip offered it for a mere Rs 20,000, revolutionizing the way travel agents did business.

Basically, EaseMyTrip was passing on almost all the commissions they got from airlines to travel agents. And they were basically working for free, juggling server costs, staff salaries, and everything else with just 1.5% of the total commission.

So, this threadbare model worked for EaseMyTrip. The travel agents loved and trusted the company and more business came to them.  But the brothers’ ambition didn’t stop there. As EaseMyTrip flourished, they noticed a disturbing trend in the travel industry: a lack of transparency and frustrating customer service. They knew they could do better. 

In 2011, they took a bold step, opening up EaseMyTrip to customers directly. However, the road ahead was daunting. Giants like MakeMyTrip and Yatra dominated the market, leaving EaseMyTrip facing a formidable challenge.

Undeterred, the brothers knew they needed a unique selling point. So, what did they do? They pulled off a crazy move: they waived the convenience fees that everyone else was charging customers. This was unheard of in the industry.

But, why would they do that? 

After all, selling flight tickets directly to retail customers wasn’t their main business – it was the travel agent business. As Prashant, one of the founders, said, “I didn’t have to focus so much on the B2C side as my bread and butter was travel agent business.”

And guess what? 

This crazy move worked wonders! While others focused on extracting every penny possible, EaseMyTrip became known for its transparent pricing and customer-centric approach. Word-of-mouth spread like wildfire and customers flocked to EaseMyTrip. In fact, even today, EaseMyTrip has more than 85% repeat customers who come back for more. This bold move proved to be a turning point, catapulting EaseMyTrip into the ranks of the industry’s top players.

You can say that the competition’s greed for that last bit of money actually helped EaseMyTrip grow into the powerhouse it is today.

Today, EaseMyTrip stands tall as India’s second-largest online travel platform, with a market capitalization exceeding $1 billion. They achieved this remarkable feat without any external funding, a testament to the power of innovation, customer-centricity, and a whole lot of audacity. 

The story of EaseMyTrip is a powerful reminder that even the smallest spark of an idea, coupled with determination and a customer-first approach, can ignite a revolution. 

From their humble beginnings as schoolyard hustlers to their current position as India’s second-largest online travel aggregator, the Pitti brothers have shown that with the right mindset and a bold vision, even the seemingly insurmountable can be achieved.

Their story serves as an inspiration to aspiring entrepreneurs everywhere, demonstrating that success doesn’t come easy. Still, it can be attained through hard work, perseverance, and a willingness to challenge the status quo. EaseMyTrip’s unique approach to the travel industry has not only benefited customers by offering better deals and transparency, but it has also paved the way for a more competitive and customer-focused market.

As EaseMyTrip continues to grow and evolve, we can be sure to witness even more innovative solutions and customer-centric initiatives, further solidifying its position as a leader in the travel industry.

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