Founders – Vineet Rajan & Deepak Ananth
Website – ScoutMyTrip
Every startup has been through a journey to get where it is today. This startup is a “journey of journeys” as they’re the ultimate road trip planning community. ScoutMyTrip is that platform which believes in making more memories per kilometer, giving you a road trip experience of a lifetime!
Scout my Trip is what I would like to say “Raw”. More than anything, It’s about having a Raw experience. An experience made specifically for Trippers, wanderers, and vagabonds of the world. An experience made especially for those who want to see “True India”.
Let’s have a look at the “Journey” of Scout my Trip.
Scout My Trip:
Formally incorporated in April of 2016, Scout my trip is a community-driven road trip planner which allows the creation of itineraries with tourist attractions, hotel bookings, gas stations, restrooms, diners, etc.
Started off by two enthusiastic travelers – Deepak Ananth & Vineet Rajan – Scout my trip is an excellent example of passion turned into a business.
Deepak & Vineet both have collectively traveled more than half a million kilometers by roads on the iconic Royal Enfield.
When we read “Because the greatest part of a road trip isn’t arriving at your destination. It’s all the wild stuff that happens along the way”, we just read, and these are the guys who have experienced the feeling.
Both of them, during their looooong road trips, have had certain unawareness of places-to-visit because Google Maps and other sites can only show us so much. Moreover, they have faced a few difficulties as well — difficulties that can be easily solved by someone local but not so much by someone completely unfamiliar.
From Tyre punctures to bad diners, they have faced it all, and from these difficulties came the idea of Scout My Trip.
They decided to build a platform which was better than Google in terms of locations, better than tourism sites in terms of tourist attractions, and equal to locals in terms of knowledge. And to achieve so, they have highly relied upon three things — things that they consider as the pillars of Scout My Trip.
- Travel: Their belief in road trips and the platform’s dependency on ‘travel through cultures, rivers, and mountains’ is the first pillar Scoutmytrip relies on.
- Technology: Technology is the be-all and end-all solution to the difficulties for their users. Technology lays the best route for their users- a route that is tried and tested.
- Community: These are the people without whom the platform is no different than a Google Map or Tourism site. These are the people who have tried and tested the things for the users of Scout My Trip.
With these three pillars, Scout My Trip has made a huge success out of itself.
From being selected by Z Nation Lab for incubation to being a Top 20 travel startup by FICCI, ScoutMyTrip has had some great milestones.
They were named as one of the top 10 best travel startups in 2017 by Silicon India. Entrepreneur India named it as one of the 50 startups to look out for in 2019. And recently, a month back, it was selected as one of the top 10,000 startups in India by NASSCOM.
Achieving those titles alongside serving tens of thousands of road trip enthusiasts is certainly a great achievement.
Road trips are peace to mind. Traveling at least once a year to someplace we have never been to is an amazing adventure to heart. And thanks to startups like Scout My Trip, there are less literal, as well as figurative, potholes in the adventures to come.
What made you strike this business idea? What inspired you to start this company?
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. Because not everyone will have the knowledge of roads like we would do.
We started our work by talking to members of various travel communities in India. Our deep involvement with them has been pivotal in bringing on board Scouts or travel experts who are helping others. Our product features have been created by talking to more than 500 fellow travelers and Scouts. Our professional know how of the product management and community dynamics also helps us design the product better.
The use of mapping has traditionally been for navigational use. With ScoutMyTrip, we’re building a new category with road trip planning. Our survey with over 1000 travelers (mostly from a non-road trip background) showed that there is a huge need for advice and support before and during a road trip because of various factors and elements in the decision-making process.
When did you start your business?
We incorporate the startup in April 2016. The idea however dates to 2015. We had in fact social media far before the actual launch of the product in December 2016.
What does success mean to your company?
Our vision is to make road trips the preferred mode of leisure traveling. Towards this vision, we define success as:
- Happy Customers
- More memories per kilometer
- Creating employment
- Building a startup in old school business fundamentals
We’ve had our fair share of recognition coming our way including the recent incubation by NASSCOM’s 10,000 startups initiative. Some of the major highlights in the course of 3 years have been the following:
Apr 2019: Part of NASSCOM’s 10,000 startups incubation cohort
Mar 2019: Recognized by Startup India / DIPP
Feb 2019: Winners of the Maharashtra Startup Week by the Govt. of Maharashtra
Jan 2019: Entreprenuer India listed us as the top 50 startups to watch out for in 2019.
Earlier milestones include being chosen as top 20 travel tech startups by FICCI in 2017, Top 10 startups in India (Silicon India) and many more…
How are you performing currently?
ScoutMyTrip is a freemium service. A traveler can plan a road trip – anywhere to anywhere in India, and any number of times with a free lifetime account with us.
But if customers choose to hire a Scout to do the same; they typically pay a subscription fee listed here: https://scoutmytrip.com/road-trip-planning
Along with hiring a Scout, customers can also book hotels, hire cars, guides and anything else that may possibly go into a road trip!
We have been generating steady revenues and are operationally profitable.
We have tie ups with various hotel aggregators and car hire options to help our users plan their trips even more efficiently. Currently our hotel lists boast of over 12,000 hotels pan India and we have tie ups with chains like OYO, Treebo, MyChoizeself drive cars and a few more apart from aggregators like Agoda and booking.com.
Our new generation planner – ScoutMyTrip NXT has been getting very good reviews and feedback; which brings in a lot of intelligence to planning road trips.Over 35,000 travelers are using our platform and more than 5000 trips have been planned on the platform.
What is the biggest risk to your company?
For any startup today the risks are usually the big fellows like Google, Amazon or the incumbents in the space. For us, the risk would be if Google were to enter the road trip space more and beyond the routing and navigation that they offer now.
For this reason, we have been constantly innovating to provide personalization and curation which is possible only with human interface – in our case with Scouts or travel experts.
What are your plans on funding?
We’ve raised our first round of funding in April 2017 from Z Nation Labs. We’re now in talks with various investors to raise the pre-Series A round.
What is the biggest challenge you faced during your start-up setup?
Both of us belong to middle class Indian families. Deepak had been working in corporate roles for over 20 years before ScoutMyTrip and at senior roles in reputed companies. Vineet has been a startup guy all through but was a part of an established startup. Therefore, challenges were almost the same.
Our families were very supportive. Parents who heard us out, asked the right questions and then whole heartedly supported us, spouses who stood by us, ready to fight the same battles along with us, helped making our minds up, much easier.
But the doubts of whether such a platform would be accepted, and if we were going about this in the right manner plagued us in the initial phase.
On the incorporation front, we feel it can be made simpler. It is hard to navigate through the maze and there is a long way before we as a country make it simpler for startups. And advise is not easy to come by,we had a to learn a lot of it ourselves.
What does growth mean to you and your business?
Growth for us would be more than revenue – how many people road trip in India. We look at ourselves as industry leaders and just when it comes to our presence; but also, the depth of the founding team. Deepak and Vineet together bring together an experience of over 600,000 km riding and road tripping in India.
For us, a bigger objective to get travelers to prefer roads over rail and air. That would be growth – from an $8B market in India (2017-2018) to $80B!
How does your product stand different from others in the market?
ScoutMyTrip from the beginning has followed a very community centric approach. Be it a community of travelers or that of Scouts. It’s always about the people with technology which revolves around it.
Secondly, ScoutMyTrip has reach all over India, and we also service Indian travelers to Nepal and Bhutan.
Thirdly, and most importantly – we’re a market place of travel experts who curate the best on the road experiences.
Where are your start-up services spread?
We’re an anywhere to anywhere planner for India. Scouts offer curated plans for Nepal and Bhutan as well. On our road trip planner, a user can input any start location and end locations. The road trip planning engine will give results and plans for the route – be it toilets, restaurants, hotels, routes and places of interest.
One unique differentiator is the tourist attractions – one which we can claim that is far better than Google Maps. On any chosen route within India, the system shows all the places of interest which are in a small detour. One can also set this radius and tweak it. So if one is road tripping from Bangalore to Delhi, they can set options to see all temples in a distance of 25 kilometers from the main highway – on the entire route! Awesome, ain’t it?
What does it feel to be the founder of your start-up? How does it feel getting up every morning and getting on to work?
As founders, we’ve tried our best to always put the team first. In fact, their involvement with the venture is so high; it really is an amazing sight. Seeing them toil through the weekends, night and day to make this work from technology, sales and marketing has humbled us at every step.
Deepak and I are doing this for our team as much as we are for the travelers at large. To be able to make a positive impact in people’s lives – that is what keeps us going.
Mondays are exciting days for us – because we get to meet! A string of review calls sets the tone for the week; and we plow through – making something great. Building ScoutMyTrip – brick by brick.
It’s an exciting time to be part of the team, and if you are looking to be part of a team that puts you first, gives you a place to grow, experiment, learn from mistakes; please reach out to us founders personally. We want to build the best startup team there is!
Where do you see your business standing in the next 5 years?
Our team is hard at work in building great tech; and striving for customer delight each time. In terms of innovation, one thing we aspire to do and see it coming true is being present in every aspect of a road trip.
We internally call this – ‘Dashboard to Dhabha’; where the idea is to integrate ScoutMyTrip into cars which does all the work for the car owner by making a road trip great. What goes into doing this is showing recommendations of road trippers; real and live assistance from Scouts all over the country, detours to explore the country side and make the most of the journey amongst many other things. This will allow give us upto date and real time information which will then further help other road travelers.