The Travenues Story …

Moving this from my twitter pinned thread to here. It is time that I move on, and this is a logical intentional move to ‘get over it’.

On July 21, 2020, we announced that Spicejet acq-hired Team @travenues. What a fantastic 2 years that has culminated in this outcome today. Brief history thread with some experiences thrown in.

https://www.livemint.com/companies/start-ups/spicejet-acqui-hires-ixigo-subsidiary-travenues-11595312803601.html

Aloke Bajpai (@alokebajpai) and me have known each other since around 2015-ish. And yes – for those curious, the relationship did start with breakfast-and-dosa. I have been doing the #DosaWithMouli ever since I got into the startup ecosystem. No-agenda conversations over breakfast. Just get to know each other and the awesome stuff folks are building. I have met a significant percentage of my network through #DosaWithMouli.

Most of #DosaWithMouli has been in Sukh Sagar, Koramangala.

Back in March of 2018, the idea to start travenues was born. @alokebajpai and @rajnishkumar had always wanted to do a b2b travel play, and we felt that this was the opportunity. I was hired as VP – Special Projects for ixigo. Was still exploratory at that time. I looked around for a co-working space in Bangalore. A cupboard at home was the IT stock cup-board for the macs procured. Printed biz cards, stickers from Printo. You get the drift 😉

First cabin at 91SpringBoard and the laptop stickers we printed

Met and befriended so many folks at 91Springboard – folks like Sanket and his merry band at digio.in ; lalit and his gang at groww. Fun time.

With tons of help from ixigo’s HR/Talent team, we were lucky to onboard a rockstar team (with experience from the likes of swiggy, grofers, amazon, matchmove). HR, Admin, Finance were all remote from Gurgaon (for those wondering, yes, this is definitely possible).

We started off with a small 6 seater at a co-working space. The early days were heady and fun. It is amazing when you are part of the team where the team starts to build from zero (literally create gitlab account and do the first commit).

Fun fun fun ! (Did I mention the amazing Paratha that the 91sb in house check in their terrace cafeteria

We worked hard and partied hard. By partied hard, I mean, we visited every restaurant in Koramangala ….

Yes. Almost every restaurant in the vicinity …
We did an amazing offsite to Saklespura, won TT tournaments, celebrated birthdays, had a most awesome-max potluck. Phew

Meanwhile, I was out at CAPA and aviation festival conferences, getting our next few airline prospects. We won a couple of accolades – the Innovation Award from CAPA and the runner-up at the Amadeus Startup Pitch at WIT.

We won the Innovation Award at CAPA and snagged an exhibition slot.
We came a close runner-up at the Startup Pitch at WIT.

Learnt a bunch of sales, persuasion, partner management and a whole lot of other stuff on the go (did I mention thats the best ever way of learning stuff!).

With my bi-monthly red-eye trips to SG in Delhi, our relationship with our first paying customer (SpiceJet) forged deeply. Travenues engineers worked super closely with the SG counterparts and built this amazing next-gen e-commerce platform, that we were so proud of.

What we had built was something that did not exist, a beautiful B2B E-commerce SaaS platform for the aviation industry – call it a ‘Shopify’ for airlines, if you will. Configurable and extensible to the hilt, and deployable on any airline within months.

And I was out there pitching to new airlines in the South East Asia Region. There was definitely interest and we were moving forward (albeit slowly, but that is normal for the aviation industry, as I was told by Industry veterans).

That is when CoVid-19 struck. Quite understandably, the climate was not right for several of these airlines to invest in new tech. (in fact one of the airlines even liquidated).

SG was bullish about this, and very aligned with the future of the platform, and the wide opportunities that it presented. And culminated in the acqui-hire announcement.

Phew. What a journey. 0->1 at its best. And it would not have been possible without my fantastic team, Aloke Bajpai, Rajnish, and all of the support teams of ixigo. Y’all know who you are.

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