We treat our business as a commodity business: Prashant Pitti, EaseMyTrip
While speaking at the e4m Digital 40 under 40 conference, Pitti shared some lessons from the 13-year journey of EaseMyTrip
At the e4m Digital 40 under 40 conference hosted by the exchange4media group on Friday, Prashant Pitti, CEO & Co-Founder, EaseMyTrip delivered the keynote address. Pitti spoke on How to build a unicorn, listed and a bootstrapped startup? Pitti shared some lessons from the 13-year journey of EaseMyTrip without having to witness a single loss-making year. He said “Lesson one is to always start with a ‘why?’. We started from a very humble background and we understood the pain points as we were the customers ourselves.
For the first three years, we remained primarily B2 and by taking this route we avoided competing with the giants and got the time to build technology, relationships and operations. It is important to find a surrogate in an industry that is super crowded. Another lesson is that it’s okay to not be able to raise. We faced rejection from VCs as they thought that B2B is a dying business but they didn’t consider that business can change. We stopped chasing them and started doing sales calls, meeting agents, and growing business. The third lesson is to pivot on the basis of the future and not on the basis of the present.”
Further sharing insights behind operations and marketing, Pitti added “Our operations have been built in such a way that we do not need to charge consumers convenience fees for profitability. This is a reason why we are able to provide cheaper prices to customers. Our marketing budget has therefore been way less than our competitors because we got endorsement through word of mouth of initial users and evangelists. The lesson learnt here was that we need to make harsh decisions for a brighter future. We treat our business as a commodity business where our balance sheets are profitable and we strive to consistently provide value to our consumers. We stick to unit economics and frugality in our business. It is important to have discipline and stick to the harsh decisions.”
It’s not news that the pandemic was initially hard for the travel industry. Pitti concluded his address with learnings from the pandemic and shared that the profits that EaseMyTrip had been keeping surplus came in handy in this crisis. He added “With lockdown being implemented, our call volumes went up to 3X due to concerns about refunds. As a company, we depleted our cash reserves by about 90 crores to provide refunds. We did it before we got money from airlines hoping that these airlines would survive and not go bankrupt and that turned out to be a game-changer for us. It turned out to be a great social media moment for us as well.”
According to Pitti, while the entire industry has come back to 70% of the pre-pandemic level, EaseMyTrip is at 110%. After being listed in March this year, the company looking forward to expanding to various parts of the world.
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