ScoutMyTrip is a Mumbai based startup founded by Deepak Ananth and Vineet Rajan. ScoutMyTrip is a platform that allows you to plan a trip from anywhere to anywhere in India.
Why ‘Scout’? We make road tripping a personalized experience by hiring travel experts we call Scouts who interact with travelers on their journey, says Vineet.
We at Bangalore Insider had an opportunity to have an interview with Vineet. Here are the excerpts.
Give a brief info about your startup?
ScoutMyTrip is a road trip itinerary planner for the Indian Subcontinent. The platform allows one to plan a trip from anywhere to anywhere in India. Why ‘Scout’? We make road tripping a personalized experience by hiring travel experts we call Scouts who interact with travelers on their journey.
Our planner allows travelers to create an itinerary that has routes to their destinations, gas stations, toilets, restaurants, hotels to stay and points of interests before starting the road trip. One marks their points of interests and then embarks on a road trip, hence #MarkandEmbark.
We picked this idea because both of us love road trips. Having road tripped on the iconic Royal Enfield bikes in India with over a 600,000 Miles between us; we decided to build a solution that will help people road trip better. Our knowledge of the roads helps a great deal in what we have built together.
We started by talking to members of various travel communities in India. Understanding the need of the hour in the travel niche, we brought on board Scouts or travel experts who are helping fellow travellers. Our product features have been created by talking to more than 500 fellow travelers and Scouts.
What made you start your startup and what problem does it solve?
Our research tells us that over 900 million hours were spent in planning road trips. For a single road trip, 17 websites and services need to be explored. After having been on the road for kilometers together, we decided to build ScoutMyTrip
More often than never, road trippers find it a challenge to look around for places to eat, to stay, restrooms, petrol pumps etc. They’re usually on the road for hours and seldom have the energy to do some looking around. To make life simpler, our plan aims at making road trips fun and we call this – ‘Mark and Embark’. Mark your requirements on our planner and embark on a journey of a lifetime!
Most of the vacations planned these days are in the form of road trips. If not the entire trip, at least part of the trip is a road trip. We want more people to enjoy road trips especially since planning it is our forte.
Tell us about yourself, your previous jobs/ventures? What were you doing before this startup?
Over 20 years of experience as a payments professional in large corporates, Deepak has 20 years of travel experience as well. He is responsible to setup INDIA’s first ever private ATM network for Tata communication. Handling a huge budget of over $1.5B, he setup the entire network smoothly to ensure maximum profitability. He was also responsible for a team of over 150 members in both on ground operations and technology to launch the product in India.
This is Vineet’s second venture after IndiBlogger (co-founded in 2007), the world’s largest Indian blogging network. He managed strategic business and grew it to million dollars in revenue. He exited IndiBlogger in 2016. A full stack marketer with a rich content marketing background and an avid traveler is the CMO at ScoutMyTrip.
Where is your startup based out of? Why do you think that is the best place for you?
We are based out of Mumbai, but we also have remote offices in Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi and Jaipur. We hope to expand to other cities as well but we hope to start an office in one of the two favourite places – either Goa or the Himalayas!
As a startup founder, what are you paranoid about? What keeps you awake at night?
Stress within limits is good. We won’t say we are paranoid as we are quite confident that a large community out there requires what we have to offer in the travel niche. Of course, not all days do the graphs rise up. On such days we take it with a pinch of salt and only aspire to move forward.
We hear a lot of founders complain about too much work. How is that ever a problem? If I ever feel there is no work, is when I am sure to be awake all night!
Who are your competitions and how are you better than them?
Our biggest competitors are the airlines and railways which make up over 80% of all travel spends in India. A close second in competition is Google Maps; which is most suited for routing and not road trip planning.
If we look at organizations, globally we compete with roadtrippers and furkot which are slowly increasing their footprint in India. In India, other players in the space include easy roads & highway delite.
How hard is it to have a work-life balance as a startup founder and how do you manage it?
Luckily, we are blessed with friends and family who have only shown immense support throughout our journey. Having them watch our backs, helps a great deal to balance our professional life and personal.
Our wives, who are also good friends, have their own responsibilities on the work front. This kind of reduces the burden of giving time or managing a social life etc.
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.
ScoutMyTrip raised its first external investment from their accelerator Z Nation Labs in April 2017. After showing consistent growth in business since then; they are now in talks to raise their pre-Series A round of $500K
What’s the biggest misconception people have about you? Why do they have that? What’s the reality?
A misconception, rather confusion that people have about ScoutMyTrip is that we are an induvial. This is again, a compliment in disguise. As a brand, we have aimed to be very conversational; and unlike our competitors or even industry leaders like MMT – we talk as humans which makes us very relatable with customers.
So, to all our followers, customers and members of the community; ScoutMyTrip is a team of 12 members who are engaged in various aspects of running the business. And if at anytime you feel, you are talking to one person – you should talk directly to the team member Sunaina Aiyappa who manages content marketing for us.
What gets you excited about this company?
Meeting more travelers, taking more detours, expanding our community to change the meaning of travel for one and all. For this reason, Deepak and I got involved with building a road tripping community called ‘The RoadTrips Co’ which is a PAN India group of like-minded travelers.
Meeting and talking to a community gives various insights which helps us improve our services, offer new products and we get to travel a lot too!
Running your own venture has also given us the opportunity to pivot and evolve; which opens up interesting possibilities to learning and following the ‘lean startup’ methodology.
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.
We both are early risers; and hit the bed early too. This followed by a brisk walk or a jog keeps us energetic through the day; helping us focus more on work.
We hit the office early too, while work starts in the car. We usually take turns in driving; allowing each other to optimize the time depending upon priorities. Working lunches are the order of the day, and we avoid all distractions like tea – coffee breaks which are more unproductive that they seem.
We avoid screen time after 9PM which is where a lot of apps like Digital Wellness by Google play an important role. Vineet uses productivity techniques like the Pomodoro to optimize the limited time in a day.
Tell us about your team and how did you meet each other?
We met each other while our individual road tripping; and when we were part of some of the active biking clubs. We hit it off and came together to hold office positions in one of the most sought after Royal Enfield groups too. This gave us a chance to work together, albeit in a non-professional capacity. In 2015, we had started talking about putting our collective experience of road tripping so many kilometers into a tech product which can help other travelers.
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