RailYatri Continues To Invest in Leveraging Crowd-Sourced, AI & Personalized Content

The focus was on long distance travel because it involves time & cost commitment and travelers are keen to optimize on that.

RailYatri was conceived in 2014, as an “intelligent” travel platform, which was capable of using data driven deep-analytics to help travelers take smarter decisions during their long distance travel. We believed that travel platforms need to go beyond simple aggregation, our idea was to leverage actual travel data to influence & simplify the decision making of travelers.

Some of these questions, for example - Will my waitlist ticket be confirmed? Which is the best train to take? How can I get medical assistance during my travel? The urge to solve the humongous problem statement of 40 million longdistance travellers is what attracted the three founders of RailYatri. The focus was on long distance travel because it involves time & cost commitment and travelers are keen to optimize on that.

BWDisrupt spoke to the core team of RailYatri, consisting of three co-founders Kapil Raizada, Manish Rathi, Sachin Saxena.

Edited Excerpts from the Interview: 

How did the idea came to start?

RailYatri has successfully established itself as a marketplace offering complete information & essential services like train, bus and long distance taxi booking and hotels. Our algorithms can accurately predict the arrival of a train based on the user’s GPS location & train profile, and our seat availability predictions have achieved over 97% accuracy. RailYatri is also the only travel app which can automatically select the nearest medical emergency centre closest to your station en-route with contact details of hospitals and ambulance services, and you can also check the quality of mobile network connectivity on your route.

What kind of dIfferentiator is your startup platform?

Existing travel platforms have to go beyond aggregation to survive. Our biggest differentiator is the ability of the intelligent platform to “learn” the domain and help travellers during their travel. The more you use it, the better the experience. For example, it is possible that the platform could recommend a travel mode other than what you originally searched for. These recommendations can not only save your money, but also time and anxiety which are integral to long distance travels.

What is the Funding Status of RailYatri?

RailYatri is backed by some of the top investors including Nandan Nilekani, Omidyar Networks, Helion Ventures & Blume Ventures. Our investors strongly believe in the impact we are making on the travel experience of millions of travellers across the country. Intelligent transaction platforms are the way of the future and we are confident of continuing to build smarter products for our travelers.

What kind of Monetization model are you looking at?

RailYatri’s monetization model is based on the transactions from its traveller base. RailYatri is the logical starting point for long distance travel and defines the usage and buying behavior of travelers, throughout their travel lifecycle. We are a marketplace and enable travel companies to sell their products to our traveler base.

What is the traction details of your startup?

RailYatri’s strongest story has been the response from travelers around the country and we are the youngest travel app to break the 10M+ install category on the PlayStore. We are also the highest rated travel app in India amongst players in our scale, and would like to thank our users for their appreciation.

What are your future plans?

We continue to invest in leveraging crowd-sourced content, analytics based intelligence, user personalization and integrated commerce for a seamless travel experience for our travelers. We believe that intelligence will define the next generation of travel platforms, and having made significant progress so far we believe we are best positioned to deliver value both to the travelers and our marketplace partners alike.

Wat kind of marketing efforts are you putting in?

RailYatri’s growth has essentially been organically driven. In a survey conducted recently, we found that nearly 40% of our users came on-board through references from friends & family. We do not spend on popular marketing mediums like TV or radio. We do have an in-house marketing team that focuses on content-based marketing, affiliate marketing and digital marketing activities. We also do limited print-based marketing in select geographies.

Tell us briefly about the challenges faced initially?

Data science is a niche area and the number of variabilities in a country like India is huge. The first year was the biggest challenge to be able to build and continuously refine algorithms that travelers can rely on and see the benefit. We believe that we have been able to bring together some of the best minds in the industry to architect a completely “Made-in-India” and “Made-for-India” product that has no parallel elsewhere, and is able to deliver value to millions of travelers on a daily basis.

What kind of Market Size & Opportunity is there in this space?

Travelers drive a large part of the economy, and tickets are a small part of the total spend of an estimated 40M daily travels in India with nearly $90B of annual spend. Our country is one of the fastest growing economies with rapidly increasing traveller base who have a smartphone, are data-connected and can pay online. We believe that the real growth in travel is happening now.

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