But how often does it come true? More often than not, he comes back from such a holiday disappointed either with the climate, accommodation, tour operator or the holiday spot itself. Is then there no thing as a ‘perfect holiday’? Looks like there is. Coming to the rescue of such a traveler is a travel portal that boasts of not only an exhaustive database of all tourist-able holidays/getaways in India but also a complete guide on factors like altitude, temperature per month, terrain, points of interest, cuisines, etc. Oddroad.com is a first such travel portal that concentrates on tourists’ preferences in order to make their holiday a memorable one. Let’s learn more about this wonderful venture from the man “with the “Eureka” moment” himself, Joydeep Chakraborty. We know that putting your actual thoughts into real action would not have been an easy job. Still, what have been your major challenges so far? As you mentioned, assimilating a database of 2000 tourist-friendly destinations from over 7000 registered Indian cities, town and villages and then collecting relevant information like altitude, good accommodation, cuisines, and temperature all the year round was a huge task. Now we are in the process of doing the same for other countries. The other challenge has been to find partners and team members who share the same passion as you. One good thing we learnt along the course was that it’s important to have an in-house development team for product development.
What is your Mantra for Customer Satisfaction? The catch-phrase says it all “The Way I Like”. But on a serious note, we believe in providing holiday destinations based on the user’s preferences, which are based on factual data and not biased by others’ preferences or vested interests. We even have site enhancements based on user communities’ inputs and acknowledgement through rewards and loyalty drives. What is your strategy to increase the customer base? For that, we are relying on Social-Media Marketing through blogs/tweets/cross-linking using Facebook, Blogspot, Twitter, Flickr, LinkedIn and Pinterest. We have online engagements like competitions, freebees and loyalty programmes through social networks and other digital media. We even offer offline events like Photography workshops (refer example http://oddroad.com/current_event.php ), biking trips, merchandise, etc. With so many travel portals abounding in the travel landscape in India, what are your plans to reach out to your target audience? At the risk of sounding clichéd, I have to admit that Oddroad.com is the first travel portal which moves away from the usual travel ticketing, packages, review and information sites. It instead focuses on the user’s preferences in finding destinations. The broad list of mediums to reach out to them would be: • Primarily social networks & other digital media • Targeted print media (like travel & in-flight magazines) • Offline events (like photography events, biking trips, road shows, etc) • Co-branding with essential travel/outdoors related brands, etc. How do you perceive the competition in this arena in the days ahead? Being a ‘first-time’ concept and primarily being focused on the informed traveler, it will obviously have competition from existing players in the travel market. But the user’s experience with the product will be the key differentiator. How important was your mentor to you when you made the plunge and now especially in your daily course of business? Now that’s easy; Very important! Nandini Vaidyanathan (just type Nandini V in google.co.in) has been a major source of motivation, focus and wisdom during the entire journey so far. Her guidance (based on experience from her own career mentoring thousands of other entrepreneurs) and most essentially, her general no-nonsense attitude blended with an uncanny sense of humor, has helped in sorting out loads of roadblocks, self-doubts and challenges. How have you managed the funding? Well, I have self-funded the entire project and company. What do you consider as the top 3 skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur? I believe that any entrepreneur should: • Be Passionate about the Vision… to drive it to reality. • Have Belief in Self & Team… that ‘we can’ do it, that it will work and most importantly that ‘we are’ on the right track, is a must, even if others don’t or if we fail at times. • Focus on the User… to listen and understand his/her needs and be proactive in addressing it to his/her satisfaction. Since you have turned your passion into a business venture, tell us how you overcame your fears of leaving a well-cushioned life in order to leap into the wilderness of entrepreneurship? If I had to actually start with the thought that I want to be an entrepreneur, it probably would have been quite difficult, short-lived and probably wouldn’t have taken-off. Honestly, my innate urge to discover the world we live in and the simplicity of the idea when it hit me became the primary driving forces. This coupled with the continuous belief and support from my family, friends and my mentor, has and is sailing me through the trials and tribulations of entrepreneurship! Website: www.oddroad.com