“Investment in travel is an investment in yourself” — Matthew Karsten
Well, well, well … I agree! You’ve seen nothing in life if you’ve not travelled.
It has always been my dream to own a cottage on top of a hill, overlooking the river, with a herd of sheep, cows and goats grazing in the pasture. Every time I travel to the hills, I would bore my husband saying the same old thing: “Let’s keep this dream as our retirement plan.”
I fell in love with nature ever since I learnt to walk. At my home in Nagaon, we have a garden adorned with beautiful flowers such as marigold, dahlia, hibiscus, night jasmine, rose, pansy, and more. Deuta (father) said, I used to spend most of my time chasing butterflies and talking to flowers. Sounds weird, but I’ve realised with time that the relationship I share with nature is very spiritual. Nature rejuvenates me, keeps me sane, and most importantly reminds me that there is harmony in simplicity.
Even today, I get exhausted and cranky if I do not travel to the hills. Being born and brought up in the picturesque landscape of Assam, I find Delhi to be no less than a concrete jungle. Now, that doesn’t mean I dislike this city. If you’ve read my previous blogs, you would know how much I love Delhi’s heritage and culture. But I fail to find peace here. I crave to see and feel every now and then the beauty of green trees, blue clouds, wild flowers, and crystal clear streams. And to satiate this thirst, I head to the hills.
These days, I have started exploring the travel websites to discover new places, and read other travellers’ experiences. Of all the travel service providers, Holidify is one platform, I find extremely useful. You will find blogs on travel experiences, an extensive list of places as per the taste of traveller — from beaches to hills and valleys, and suggestion of eateries in each destination.
Curious to know how the creators came up with such an interesting concept to help avid travellers like us, I approached co-founder Rohit Shroff for a detailed understanding. Here is the excerpt from the interview.
- How did you come upon your business idea? Did you and Kovid Kapoor (co-founder) plan it during your engineering days in IIT Bombay?
Kovid and I were avid travellers since our IIT days. While on the phase of finding a place to go, we could never find sufficient information on the web. Different blogs and websites would have some information, as would search engines, but it was never enough. After graduation we both moved to Delhi-NCR and were working with our respective jobs. We started travelling more frequently and identified the problem of discovery of holiday ideas. We researched more on this and eventually conceptualised Holidify.
- You left a high-paying job at Indus Insights to start Holidify. What kind of challenges you had to face and how did you overcome them?
Well, frankly it wasn’t a very tough decision to quit my job. When I was working there, it was also a startup with less than 10 people. I had seen and learnt how a small team works together. Quitting my job was financially not very strenuous because I had some savings, plus I had full support of my family. I come from a business family background, so that mentality really helped.
- Your product has received amazing responses in a short time. How did you manage to do that? What are your marketing and branding strategies?
Yes, we’ve seen visitors to our website increase every single month. And I would say, so far, it is the word of mouth that has been our most useful method for marketing.
Also, content marketing in the form of creative campaigns and blog posts has been done. Many of them have seen extensive sharing on social media, some reaching 100,000 shares.
Being a content intensive platform, we also do some Search Engine Optimization for our content. We generally see close to five lakhs (and growing) visitors to Holidify on monthly basis.
- How do end-consumers benefit by your offering?
Presently, Holidify offers roughly 800 holiday ideas to users, with all the information about: How to Reach, Top Attractions to Visit, Restaurants and Food, City Maps, etc. By using the Holidify app, a user will be able to get relevant travel information, even on the go. Consumers can get information of offbeat, less traveled places, which is usually not available on other websites. Travel plans could be designed in a more informed manner with the necessary chunk of travel information that can be obtained from Holidify.
- You’ve also launched an app In June this year. What is approximate number of downloads you see on daily/monthly basis?
Our app has now garnered more than 15,000 downloads so far in just about three months. All of these downloads are organic, and coming from word of mouth and other non-paid channels.
Holidify app is the highest rated travel app currently at a global level and we have got various mentions by popular tech, app and travel reviewers. The app is now only available on Android. We’ve a full-fledged website, which one can also access on mobile and desktop.
- Companies such as Tripadvisor, Ixigo and Traverik also operate on similar grounds. How does Holidify differ from them?
The discovery of holiday ideas is scant on any other website. While other platforms will tell a traveller about the top destinations or the top attractions in a popular destination, the bigger picture goes missing. Holidify helps users discover destinations based on their travel preferences and location, using powerful filters.
- You’ve recently collaborated with Yatra and Expedia, and have started offering transportation guidance. Could you tell us more about it?
We are collaborating with OTAs (Online travel agencies) to provide hotel suggestions to our users. It helps users plan their trip in a better way and also acts as a revenue channel for Holidify.
- Holidify is in news for raising an angel funding of $100K. How do you plan to utilise the funds?
The Promoter Family of Aarti Group, Naman Sarawagi (founder of Findyogi) and Himanshu Sarawagi have participated in this round. We are planning content and tech expansion using the funds. You will soon see lots of changes on the website and the app.
We are also in talks with other VC firms to raise a bigger round, soon.
- What more can we expect from Holidify? Share with us your upcoming plans.
We plan to solve the problem of holiday discovery in India. We’ll also be offering customised packages for trips and hotel bookings, soon. Once we do fairly well in India, we will start doing it for other countries as well.
Sounds great? Well then, time to get those legs moving. No, no, not to the gym, but to the exotic places and shake off the work-related worries with Holidify. Share your journeys with pictures, social updates, blogs and videos. Make new travel memories with your loved ones and revisit them in your travel blogs. Find secret destinations recommended by other travellers or recommend that amazing travel spot that travel guides forget to mention. Download the app here.
Cover image source: Otrams