inTRANSIT – FLY LIKE NEVER BEFORE
Say “Hello” to a whole new world of airport experience.
Startup Name: InTRANSIT
Founder: Vig Kannan
Investment: Angel Fund (Rs. 90 lakh)
Domain: Micro social network / Travel
If you are a frequent air traveler, you can understand the pain of spending 2-3 hours after you check in and wait for your flight. There is no useful way to spend apart from reading books or walking around the airport. InTRANSIT is world’s first social network for air travelers. Every day there are millions of travelers traveling around the world and according to a report, people spend over 73 million hours every year in the airport. Whenever you fly, you spend at least couple of hours in the airport sitting idle, and if there is a delay in the schedule it’s a different story altogether. InTRANSIT has built a micro-social network for air travelers so they can make use of the time they spend in airport much more productively.
How does InTRANSIT work?
InTRANSIT for users
The users can download the android app and set up their itinerary in the app. Example: From which airport you are flying, where are you flying to and what’s the purpose of your travel.
The users can log-in to the InTRANSIT Lounge and see profiles of people who are flying from the same airport. InTRANSIT uses a patented algorithm to identify the similar like-minded people based on details like user demographics, user preferences and travel details.
Once you find someone you can send them a request to meet, and if that person accepts your invite, the app will allow you to plan your meet up.
The app opens a new window for the travelers to make the business connection, find a travel buddy, plan their trip with fellow travelers that was not possible before. In future, the app plans to make use to big data analytics to identify and rank the best possible connections you can make during your travel. They are also working on other aspects like listing the facilities in the airport such as nearest toilets, smoking room, prayer room etc.
InTRANSIT for Retailer
InTRANSIT has tied up with retailers across the airports and have listed their stores in the app.
They have mapped out the complete list of retailers i.e., you can locate the store via map, know how far it is from your gate and plan your travel based on it.
Push notifications for retailers – in today’s world, the retailers are left with only billboards in the airport to advertise/promote their offerings. The major problem with that is, it’s not targeted and it’s way too costly. InTRANSIT allow retailers to push offers/promote sales by a target specific audience.
They are planning to bring in Groupon kind off coupon code system and payment gateway integration within the app in near future.
InTRANSIT’s journey began when Vig Kannan, the founder got struck at Dubai International Airport for about 6 hours because of the flight delay. He spent around an hour walking in the airport and left with pretty much nothing to do, he then ran into 4 German backpackers and managed to strike a conversation. They ended up speaking about places to visit in New Zealand, as Vig was living in New Zealand. He then got the idea on an app to socialize the air travelers.
When he got back to New Zealand, he researched for the idea and found out that there wasn’t any app which was solving this problem. He along with his friend took this idea to an incubator in New Zealand and did an initial research for about 9 months and by September 2014, they started building the app. It was at that time they realized that they can’t follow this idea as a hobby and they had to quit their regular job and dedicate themselves full time to it. But since his friend dropped out of race, it was only Vig left; he then partnered with a company in Chennai and started building the app. Initially, it was through the late-night calls but he was not happy with the pace of development. Finally, he left New Zealand and moved to Chennai to take the idea forward.
He incorporated the company in February 2015 and launched the web portal for partner merchants to create campaigns by August 2015. The Android app for users was launched in February 2016. From there on to till now, they have 9000+ retailers listed in the app and there are about 30-40 retailers who are using InTRANSIT to create campaigns and promote their offerings. They have around 10,000+ users who are using InTRANSIT app and have listed around 100 airports across the world, ranging from San Francisco to Sydney, with six of them in India. They are expecting to launch their iOS app by end of this year.
Currently, they have about 7 members who are working with InTRANSIT, out of which 3 are for operations, sales, and marketing and 4 are into technology.
While discussing about the difference between startup ecosystem in New Zealand and India, Vig says
“Startup ecosystem in India is completely different than of Western countries. Based on my discussion with people in Indian startup ecosystem I understood that they give a lot of value to the implementation of an idea, irrespective of whether the idea is original, innovative or not. When I took the idea of InTRANSIT to an incubator in NZ, they just said wow, never heard of such idea, let’s work on it. But in India, I had more detailed conversations like, the idea is good but how many users you have, what’s your revenue model, who are your business partners etc.
I think if Steve Jobs was from India, Apple wouldn’t have been this successful, or if Uber was started in India, it wouldn’t have reached this height. There are a lot of successful Indian companies but they have fantastically implemented and Indianized startups which were a reflection of startup ideas in other countries. For an early startup, these detailed conversations are not really necessary, you need to back the entrepreneurs and their idea and help them implement first.”
The biggest challenge faced by Vig in his journey was, as he says,
“It was challenging to start things off without knowing anything about Sales, Operations, Finance etc. there was a lot to learn in short span of time. Being an entrepreneur you should have the resilience to say that at least I will spend few hours every week in learning. And when you are the founder, you are expected to know everything. Everyone in the organization seek you for help, you have much steeper learning curve than the average employee at MNC. It was challenging but extremely exciting.”
InTRANSIT has raised Angel Funding of 90 lakhs in July 2015 and Vig says,
“We are looking forward to raising next round of investment of about 3 crores. It has been quite challenging, it’s important when you tell the story the investor puts the shoe of the troubles a typical user faces. We were lucky that we raised angel round from an investor who used to fly frequently. He flies between Los Angles and Huston every week and he knew the troubles of air traveler, so it helped to sell the idea to him and have him on board from Day 1.”
As of now, InTRANSIT doesn’t have any direct competitors, there are few players who do part of services offered by InTRANSIT.
MentApp – They offer the exact same solution of InTRANSIT for users, but there is no retailer aspect in the app. They are in prelaunch stage and are not yet live in the market.
Foursquare – Foursquare is a predominant player in the US , but doesn’t have much presence in India/Asia. And they focus more on locals and tourists to connect with retailers and they don’t offer anything exclusive for air travelers.
TripAdvisor – They offer so much information about shops at airports but they lack interaction between passengers and retailers
Finally, Vig’s tip for any budding entrepreneur is,
You need have thick skin, you will come across a lot of people who says it’s not going to work out, or it’s dumb idea, but as long as you have the conviction that’s was it really matters. Remember when two Stanford students created a search engine and when they approached investors, they said they have AltaVista and there is no need for Google. But see where Google is now, if you believe in your product, then just go for it. There will be 10 people who don’t support you, but you will find that one person who backs you up, hold on that person.
And do not scale up recruitment as soon as you get funding, be very picky. Do not necessarily hire for skill, for that can be taught but hire for attitude. In our organization, if the person has not traveled before, we don’t hire him because the person whom you hire should be sold the idea, he/she should wake up in the morning and work on something they believe and not just work for salary.
“The article was first published in The Cofounder. The Cofounder is India’s first print magazine which writes about early stage startups and entrepreneurship.