AyurUniverse is a Bangalore based startup founded by Vijay Kumar Karai.
AyurUniverse is India’s largest, most-trusted wellness discovery platform that allows customers to discover, consult, compare and book all-inclusive Indian wellness programs for Ayurveda, Yoga and Meditation, under one roof.
We got an opportunity to connect with the founder and know his startup story. Read his story, I am sure you will get inspired with their ideas.
Give a brief info about your startup?
AyurUniverse is India’s largest, most-trusted wellness discovery platform that allows customers to discover, consult, compare and book all-inclusive Indian wellness programs for Ayurveda, Yoga and Meditation, under one roof. AyurUniverse is a disruptive business model that uses technology to revolutionize the traditional Indian Wellness Tourism segment by bridging the gap between customer requirements and the wellness centers’ offerings.
What made you start your startup and what problem does it solve?
AyurUniverse was founded in 2016 after my time consulting for a wellness center in Mysore. It was here that I discovered the scope of this industry and realized how together with technology, we could change the way people booked their wellness holidays. This market has been traditionally managed by international FTAs who rely heavily on the peak US/Europe travel seasons. But Ayurveda and Yoga is not bound by season and this together with its gaining popularity within India opened new doors for us.
As a home grown company, we also want to spread awareness on how Ayurveda and Yoga can be beneficial for ailment management.
Today, the website offers the growing global Indian wellness community a simple-to-use platform where they can search and compare various programs, consult with our Ayurvedic expert and easily book authentic and curated wellness programs in India and Sri Lanka.
Tell us about yourself, your previous jobs/ventures? What were you doing before this startup?
I previously worked for Thums Up, Coke, Pepsi. My first stint with a start-up was setting up a Food company in Sri Lanka. Following this, I took a sabbatical to do an International MBA Course at University of Southern California, USA.
Over the course of my career, I have worked and turned around several sick companies. I quit my corporate career in 2007 to run an Ayurvedic Retreat in Mysore, where I was the consultant/ coach for a few years before I took the plunge to launch AyurUniverse.
Where is your startup based out of? Why do you think that is the best place for you?
AyurUniverse is based in Bangalore. Globally the city is known as a technology hub and a great city to find the best talent for any startup company.
As a startup founder, what are you paranoid about? What keeps you awake at night?
Several things but mostly about the speed of implementation, how to constantly tweak the business model to be smarter and up-to-date with the market and customer needs and demands etc.
Who are your competitions and how are you better than them?
There are some international aggregators who are using technology to boost Yoga programs – teacher training courses and retreats but no one else who is using technology to drive all Indian traditional wellness systems like Ayurveda, Yoga, Meditation, Marma, Kalari – together on one platform.
Today through AyurUniverse, several small or mid-sized Ayurvedic centers which are operated by expert doctors but with limited or no marketing budgets are reaching out to a global audience and to grow their revenues.
Ayurveda and Yoga has also become a way of life for many. Besides rejuvenative wellness programs we want to educate and spread the word about Ayurveda for ailment management.
How hard is it to have a work life balance as a startup founder and how do you manage it?
It is definitely very hard. I am very blessed to have an understanding family who stand by my aspirations.
Have you raised funding? If yes, then we would like to know the details. If no then please tell us if you are looking to raise.
Yes. Together between our angel investor and the first round of funding, we have raised $1million. We plan to begin our second round of funding soon.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about you? Why do they have that? What’s the reality?
People often take my friendly nature for granted. I am open to new ideas and will listen to opinions on how one would like to operate. In reality, I am just being flexible and offering them more flexibility to function as they feel best. But I do not suffer non performers.
What gets you excited about this company?
The scope for growth in the company and this industry is incredible. The wellness tourism is a $500 billion industry and India’s wellness travel industry is estimated to be a $2.54 billion industry and will double in size by 2020.
With the help of technology we can automate engagement and showcase the wellness centers to a global audience. This in turn will help drives better profitability for the wellness centers and tourism in India.
Tell us how a day in your life looks like? Your schedule for a day right from the time you get up till you hit the bed at night.
I am an early riser, usually around 5am and almost always sit to work for an hour. After that it’s coffee with my wife and then some workout. I like to shuffle between Yoga, the gym or even go for a jog. I am at work and/or in meetings will 7pm at least. My evenings are my time with my sons, when we discuss their studies/plans etc. An early dinner and I try to go to bed by 10pm. I am travelling quite often and am away from home at least 10 days a month.
Tell us about your team and how did you meet each other?
Venkat Rao: Venkat was recommended by my wife’s cousin and we met 2-3 times over coffee. He came across as a very honest person and one who knows technology.
Srikant Kumarasamy: Srikant is my neighbor and a very intelligent & competent person (IIT Kharagpur, Microsoft,etc). He took over 18 months to decide and finally join as Head of Operations.
Shyam Sunder : Shyam is our Head of Sales and Marketing. Very sharp and communicates very well. Met him on Linkedin.
Shalu Pillai: Actually, I interviewed her sister and was referred to her. Very impressed.
Sales Team: From MBA Tourism students from KITTS , Trivandrum and Christ College, Bangalore
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